Vendor Review : Columbus/Soaper’s Choice

When you first get introduced to the addiction that is making soap, it’s easy to buy your materials at the grocery store. But as your addiction grows, or you find that people are throwing money at you to buy your creations, or you suddenly feel a burning desire to do an arts and crafts show, you quickly find that paying retail isn’t cost efficient when you’re making 30 pounds of soap.

Also, as you get braver with your recipes, and you realize what a huge difference raw materials makes in your final product, you may decide to go with organic materials, or fair trade or sustainable growth materials.

The oils that go in your soap are the most important ingredient as far as lather, skin conditioning, and quality go. Your oils make up more than 90% of your recipe, so sourcing oils is a really important part of growing your product line. I get asked by a lot of people where I get the organic materials I use for my products.

I’ve used a ton of vendors, and I still source locally when I’m buying small amounts of oils, or doing custom batches, but looking back over purchase orders in the last 5 years, I tend to source all of my organic and fair trade oils from Columbus Foods, via their Soaper’s Choice division.

Mike Lawson is the contact for soapmakers, and he’s probably forgotten more about oils than I’ll ever remember. He’s helped me refine recipes, as well as suggesting potential products. Also, he’s a sweetie.

A few tips if buying from Columbus:

  • You can fit six 1-gallon jugs in one shipping box. To save on shipping, try to buy gallons in multiples of six.
  • I avoid buying things like palm kernel flakes in the summer. The flakes will melt and you’ll have a big ol block o’ palm kernel. Palm kernel is difficult at best, and a 50 pound block of it is the stuff of messy nightmares.
  • Avoid buying butters in the summer for the same reason. (Keeping in mind that my summers are based on living in the center of the sun where it’s regularly triple digits. Your mileage may vary.)
  • If you’re buying considerably more oil than you expect to use right away, be sure to invest in some Vitamin E oil at the same time. Adding E will significantly improve your storage time, assuming the oils are kept cool and dry.
  • Remember that each gallon of oil weighs between 7 and 10 pounds, depending on the density of the oil. Shipping rates have gone through the roof with the rise is gas prices, and you’ll be shipping things that are freight-weight. Columbus doesn’t have a big shipping markup, but heavy stuff isn’t cheap to ship.

So there you have it; a fantastic resource for high quality, reasonably priced oils. Nothing stands between you and your plans for global soapy domination.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for this review, nor do I have a vested interest in Columbus Foods.

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