If you’ve been making Biodiesel for a while, or even if you haven’t, you may have heard that some people are making soap out of their Biodiesel glycerin.
When people first discovered that you could make soap from Biodiesel glycerin, the soap that was made was usually really brown looking, kind of looked like….well, let’s just say it didn’t look all that great, and it didn’t smell all that good either. If you made bar soap, the bars were usually squishy and slimy looking. In other words, yeah, it was soap, but most people, and especially women (my wife included), wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole! “Ew! Is that supposed to be soap? Get that out of my house this instant!”
Some people could get used to the look, feel, and smell of the stuff while others just completely abandoned it all together. But still others out there being ingenious and curious, decided there had to be a better way to turn the glycerin into soap that rivaled commercially produced soap.
One of these individuals is Rick Knicely from Michigan. Over the last few years Rick has been working on making better soap out of his Biodiesel glycerin that don’t turn out to be the “gooey, brown, nasty soap bars”. Through lots of research into traditional and commercial soap making, Rick discovered that it’s possible to make bar soap from Biodiesel glycerin that resembled the stuff you could get in the store. You know, nice, hard bars that didn’t feel all gooey & nasty that lasted a long time under heavy use.
He also discovered that he could color the soap too! From pink to green to tan to red, he discovered that with a little work, virtually any color was possible. He found that he could do the same with liquid soaps made from Biodiesel glycerin as well. As he did his research he took meticulous notes on all his findings and has recently published a book called Making Biodiesel Soaps.
A few months ago I started visiting with Rick and was amazed by how well his soaps turned out. They were of extremely high quality, felt much like high quality soaps you’d buy in the store (nice & hard), didn’t “sweat”, lathered extremely well, and lasted much longer than any previous Biodiesel glycerin soap bars I had ever tried. Needless to say, I was hooked and still am.
So what’s the “More Than Just For Cleaning…” part? Well, the other day I had someone stop by to talk about making Biodiesel and I showed him a bar of soap that I’d made using Ricks newly released Basic Biodiesel Glycerin Soaps kit (I’ve been one of the beta testers for the kit). The guy was amazed at the soap and the conversation that ensued went something like this…. “Do you realize what you have here?” “Yeah, soap!” “No, you have a green product that you could easily market in boutique’s and craft stores for about $3-$5 a bar!” “Yeah?” “Yeah! People LOVE this kind of stuff!” “Well, I know it works really good too…” and I went on to tell him some of my success stories of how well it removes stains, cleans clothes, pulled baby butt cream out of my daughters hair, etc….
By that time I could see the numbers going through his head…”How much glycerin did you use to make these bars?” “Well, about a gallon of glycerin made all 40 bars”….”Let’s see…40 x $3 is $120. How much glycerin does a 50 gallon batch make?” “About 10-12 gallons” “OK, 10 gallons times $120 is $1200. How much does the soap cost to make?” “Well, roughly about .10-.20 cents a bar, depending on how you make it”. “Even if you sold these for $3.00 a bar and assumed $0.20/bar for cost, that’s over 90% profit!” And that’s when the light went on inside my head and I’ve been excited ever since that day about the prospect of soap from Biodiesel glycerin.
I’d then remembered that there were several people I’d heard of that were making and selling their soap they’d made on a regular basis and doing quite well. In other words folks, we’re all sitting on a gold mine! That big old drum of glycerin you have sitting in the back yard is possibly worth up to $120/gallon in the form of potential soap sales! Our biggest problem with it is that most people haven’t liked the kind of soap it produces, but now with the new methods that Rick has been pumping out, it can gain a much wider appeal! In other words, we now have the knowledge to make soap that rivals the best out there. In color, texture, effectiveness, longevity, and smell!
In the case of Tim from Utah (the guy I’ve been experimenting making soap with), once people get their hands on a couple bars of his soap, they just have to have more! They love the stuff! Even if you didn’t sell the bars for $3.00/bar, you’d still come out on top! It’s a built in revenue generator….and we used to throw this stuff away! Tim now keeps every drop of glycerin we make and turns it into soap. He’s made well over 800 bars of the stuff and people just can’t seem to get enough of it!
To help people get started making soap, we now carry a Basic Soap Making Kit that comes with everything you’ll need to make 40-50 bars of soap. You just heat up the demethylated glycerin in a pot, mix the included Lye with some distilled water, pour in the included fatty acids, mix it all together and pour it into a soap mold that you can make using the box that comes with the kit.
I think it’s a great way to introduce yourself or others to making soap from Biodiesel glycerin. Once you’ve made a few bars and tried it, I’m sure you’ll want to make more (I know I did!). From there you can learn the basics of soap making from Glycerin by picking up a copy of one of our two soap making publications. We’ve already told you about Rick’s great book. Now with Rick’s book on how to take it to the next level, we believe that making soap from Biodiesel glycerin has finally come of age.
We now have the ability to make really high quality soap that appeals to nearly everyone, color and fragrance the soap, and then package and market the soap in a way that’s bound to catch on! We can’t think of a better way to get rid of the glycerin that used to be considered a nuisance!
Because I’m so excited about the prospect of making & selling soap from Biodiesel glycerin, I’ve started work on sourcing supplies and equipment to make the soap with. Things like molds, bar cutters, pH meters, and a whole host of products will soon be making their way to our site to help support you as you begin to make soap. We’re in the middle of testing a wide range of products to make sure they live up to the Utah Biodiesel Supply standard before releasing them, but be sure to stop by as we’ll start releasing them soon. If any soap makers out there have idea’s for things we should look at, be sure to send them in. Our best products always have come from customer suggestions and I’m sure soap making will be the same. Happy Soaping!!!