Frequently Asked Questions
*Why is handmade soap different than commercially made soap?
Many commercial soaps aren't soaps at all. They are made with ingredients that would qualify them as detergents or "cleansers". Soap is made with fats that have been saponified, that is, combined with sodium hydroxide. That's it. You can add other ingredients to enhance the soap but it is a pretty simple product. And if it's done well, it is pretty great. If it is done on a mass scale using substandard, super cheap filler ingredients to maximize profits, it can be pretty awful. Another huge difference in commercially produced soaps is glycerin. Soap contains glycerin. It occurs naturally in the saponifcation process. Glycerin is a natural emollient, meaning that it draws moisture to itself. This is great for your skin but not so great for the shelf life and economical packaging of mass produced soaps. So all that wonderful glycerin is removed from the soap to extend its shelf life and then it is sold to us as an added luxury ingredient in their other cosmetic products and we pay dearly for it because that cheap soap keeps our skin thirsty and dry.
*Is there lye in this soap?
No. HOWEVER, let me clarify. All soap is made with lye but no soap contains lye. Soap is made by combining oils/fats with sodium hydroxide (lye) that has been dissolved in liquid (water, milk, beer, wine, etc). Each fat has what is called a SAP value which tells the soap maker exactly how much lye is required to turn that fat into soap. Once the fats and lye are combined in the proper ratio a chemical reaction called saponification begins. Saponification is a fancy word that means, in very simplified terms, that fat and lye combine turn into a salt.
That melt and pour soap kit from the craft store? That was made with lye. That stuff called glycerin soap? Also made with lye. That person who said they don't use lye in their soap? Because someone else made the base for them...with lye. The bottom line is, if it is labeled "soap" and everyone is being truthful, at some point in the production of that product, lye was involved. Don't be scared to use "lye soap". You already do. That stuff from the big famous store in the mall with the scented liquid soaps is totally made with lye. Baby soap is made with lye.
So...soap is just the alkali salt of fatty acid and there is NO LYE left in it. And that's no lie.
*How long will a bar of handmade soap last?
If you take proper care of it, it will last longer than you might expect. As mentioned in a previous section, handmade soap retains its naturally occurring glycerin which means that it can draw moisture to itself if you let it. Just make sure to use a draining soap dish or even remove it from the shower between uses if you must. Just be sure it isn't left sitting in a puddle or it could melt away to mush pretty quickly. If you take care of it, we find that a full size bar will last about a month with average daily use (assuming one adult per bar of soap taking an average of one shower per day). Facial bars tend to last longer if they are used only for the face.
*Are your products hypoallergenic?
Please read the ingredient list if you have any allergies. We use a wide variety of ingredients in our products and we can not guarantee that you won't be allergic to them. Please understand that we are a very small company producing small batch handmade products. They are not one size fits all. If you have an allergy to one of our ingredients but would still like to special order a product that would suit your needs, please contact us. We love special orders, and would be honored to make a product tailor made to suit your needs.
*When will my order be shipped?
Most in stock orders are packed and shipped within 3 business days. Sometimes, it takes a little longer. Why? This is a very small, family owned business and we have very small staff. The day to day operations are usually handled by a single person. If a delay in shipping time is expected, we will let you know as soon as possible.
Special orders will be shipped as soon as they are ready and the time needed for production, packaging, and shipping is discussed with each customer at the time the order is placed.
*I placed an order and I got a notification that it is out of stock. What happened?
Sometimes that happens right after we do a live event like a craft show or a farmers market because these events happen at a fast pace and rarely do they have WiFi available for us to be able to update our inventory in real time. While we try to update the inventory on the website as soon as the event is over or during the event, sometimes someone will place an order before an item is updated. This is rare, but it does occasionally happen. If it does happen to your order, you will be immediately contacted and offered the chance to choose another product or to have your money refunded.
*Why are there imperfections on my soap?
Our soaps are all handmade. By a real live person. Her name is Elaine. That's me, I'm Elaine. I make each batch by hand, cut each bar individually, plane the surfaces smooth if needed, and bevel the edges by hand if my design calls for it. I do my best to keep everything straight and centered but I'm far from perfect. I'm also near-sighted and jazzed up on caffeine. But I do my best. For real, though, what you are getting is a hand made product. It is one of a kind and no two bars are the same. That is the nature and the beauty of handmade. Also, if the label is crooked or misspelled...the beauty of handmade.
*My soap/bath bomb/shower steamer looks different than the picture on the website. Why?
Everything here at Thistle & Olive Soapery is handmade in small batches.
Soap-The bar photographed may be from the left third of the batch and your bar may be from the very middle and the swirl looks different. You may have received a bar from a remake of the batch that was photographed and it looks a little different. Soap is a tricky and any variation in temperature, humidity, mix time (in milliseconds), even down to the bowl I mix it in will affect the final outcome. So every batch is a little different.
Bath Bombs and Shower Steamers- Each batch of these products are hand mixed and color variations are normal from one batch to the next. The presses I use will sometimes clog or break causing me to have to switch out the plates and use a different design. Sometimes the humidity makes the more intricate designs impossible so I have to switch to a simple press to avoid wasting an entire batch of product. So you may get two from the same batch that look completely different but still perform the same.
*Can I pick up my order if I don't want to pay shipping?
Yes. Choose local pick up as your shipping option during checkout. You will be contacted when your order is ready for pick up.
*Can I come tour your studio/workshop?
We do not allow tours or visitors to the production facility at this time.
*Is this soap good for/will this product cure my (insert condition here)?
We do not make any medical claims. We do not give any medical advice. Our soap will clean you. Please read the ingredients lists and make any decisions for your skin care based on your own judgement or discuss it with a licensed healthcare professional.