The challenge of crafting cold processed soap with alcoholic beverages, Pt 1

Not a new topic for anyone around and definitely not a new one for me.  It’s become increasingly a favorite for me and given the numerous successful microbreweries in my neck of the woods, there’s certainly plenty of brewed beverages around from which to choose.  I’ve named several in past posts so I won’t repeat them here for this post.  The beverage I want to talk about now was the one type I’d yet to make a soap with…until now……moonshine.

Moonshine has a long, storied past along the Appalachian mountains and when it comes to the methods, it’s a family tradition, one passed down from generation to generation, mostly by word of mouth and observation.

One moonshiner, in particular, has gone legal and is now being sold in area ABC stores. Tim Smith created one called Climax and this is the one I used in a cold processed batch recently.  The bottle I had was not full as it was gifted to me from my son who said he can no longer drink it, so I put it to good use making it into a batch of moonshine soap.  Only in North Carolina can we take corn liquor and turn it into a batch of soap! Well, maybe not, but I’ve so far not heard of anyone else trying it.

The main issue at hand about Moonshine is the proof/ percentage of alcohol by volume.  Climax Moonshine is not as high as one might think.  It’s certainly not as high as Everclear, which is typically used for creating a translucent soap, which is sold in North Carolina at 151 proof (75.5% abv).  Climax is 90 proof or about 45% abv. The higher the proof the greater the risk of having a volcano from your soap running over the top of your mixing bowl. That is the one thing none of us wants to happen!  In part two I’ll cover the way I’ve managed to bypass that particular gremlin.

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‘Shine On!

Moonshine with label & moon

Moonshine is here and I’m ready to try it out in a batch but want all those ducks in a row first, though, being a bit tipsy, they may wander off, stagger around, get lost or fall asleep somewhere before I can knock this one out.  I need just the right fragrance, just the right colours for this one.  I’ve waited about a year to get a moonshine soap made but if just the right fragrance and colours aren’t there, it isn’t good enough.  I already know the colours for it, though in what predominance is yet to be determined.  That may have to wait until the fragrance is chosen.  If it discolours, that will factor heavily into the colour choices and design.  I’d love to hear from you on this one.  What fragrance would be the perfect one for this potent brew in a bar soap?  Visit me at Neecy’s Facebook page to post your suggestion, in Twitter here or in Instagram here.

Stripe vs Square

Last summer I had to change out my online payment gateway from Stripe after they deemed it unacceptable to sell products made with what they felt were controversial ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid which is in many of those high-priced face creams found in Nordtroms and others of their ilk. Why Stripe felt they knew more than we do about ingredients we use or don’t use in our products is something I’ll never quite grasp fully yet there it was as a new reality for online sales and card reader purchases at face-to-face events.

As a bath & body products crafter, I’ve done my homework, determined the truths from the myths, weighed the benefits of use against the negatives and always err on the side of caution, yet that final decision was taken from me as the business owner by a financial gateway provider?  I. Don’t. Think. So.

I checked out others, tried one and it didn’t work well for me so I tested out Square, a very popular option for other crafters in our industry.  They did not try to tell me what I may or may not sell.  They simply do their job and allow me to do mine.  I respect that.  Immensely!

With Square I’ve gotten so much more than just a payment gateway.  I’ve gotten a financial advisor and informative guide to what’s working as opposed to what isn’t.  As of this morning’s report I now know so much more about my business since sales going through Square than I ever did in years prior to the switch.

The Year-End report for 2017 includes all of the following

  • Sales by month
  • Best day for sales in the week
  • Total net sales for the year
  • Total transactions for the year
  • Sales by the month
  • Best month, their average, the improvement on the average based on the best sales month
  • Average daily sales
  • Average transactions per day & time of day
  • Record sales with date and amount
  • Best selling Items
  • My top customer in visits & sales

That last one give you a clear reason to offer loyalty points or bonuses of some sort when they return often buying certain items repeatedly.  There’s always a good reason to apply those patterns to your business to make that customer come back and tell their friends about you, too.  Word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool that’s completely in the hands of the customer so make that customer happy and keep them there!

If you’re not already there, here’s the link to Square so you can get the informed payment gateway choice.