Frequently Asked Questions
Organic Soap FAQs
What does Botanie Soap mean by "all natural soap"?
Natural soap means a true soap made by saponifiying plant-based whole oils (not isolated fatty acids). At Botanie, we use only certified organic oils for our bar soap and liquid soap base recipes. Our soaps do not contain surfactants. We oppose the body care industry's use of the word "natural" to include synthetic fragrances, colorants, and preservatives. We believe the use of the phrase "natural fragrance" to describe scents that are not direct plant extracts is deceiving to consumers that want to trust the labels they read. We add no artificial substances to our soaps, such as synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives, and where possible, we use organically grown products.
All our soaps are scented with essential oils only, and we do not even allow fragrance oils in our building. We color our soap with a variety of organic herbs and plant derived products. For custom production, we will also use mineral pigments. Our products contain no parabens. Read through our ingredient list to see what we mean by "natural soap." Then, to really see what we mean, take a copy of our ingredients with you next time you go to the store and compare them to the ingredients of soaps on the shelves. Your skin will know the difference.
How organic is your soap?
We use only certified organic oils for the base recipe in all our soap. We make every bar with a minimum of 85% organic ingredients. Our foaming soap and castile soap have a minimum of 81% organic ingredients. Due to the chemistry of soap, it is almost impossible to go much higher than these numbers. Within the natural products industry, there is a conversation taking place about whether soap can be technically defined as "organic" (since soap is the result of a chemical reaction and most of the original organic materials have been transformed). For our part, we commit to making soap using ONLY organic base oils and keeping our soap's ingredients above 85% organic. A soap's raw ingredients are either organic or they're not, regardless of the definitions, and Botanie commits to using certified organic oils. For more information about the discussion underlying organic soap, see our company president's memo on organic soap as well as how the USDA defines organic.
Does Botanie Soap have organic certification?
Yes. Botanie Soap has organic certification under the USDA's National Organic Program. Our certifying agency is the Montana Department of Agriculture. Organic certification is a rigorous professional standard that must be validated and re-issued annually. Many skin care companies claim to sell organic products but are not officially certified. Without certification, they are actually in breach of national policy, and, technically, they are not allowed to make the organic claim. At Botanie, official organic certification assures our customers that our ingredients, our facility, and our procedures truly support our organic status. Explanation of organic.
What makes a good bar soap?
A good bar soap balances bar hardness (durability), lather quality (both fluffiness and stability), and moisturizing ability. These different properties come from the different fatty acids that make up molecules of the organic vegetable oils we use as the base of our herbal soap. Unfortunately, the fatty acids that are moisturizing are not those that contribute much to lather quality, and the ones that make great lather are drying to our skin. A perfect bar soap is the result of carefully balancing the fatty acids to maximize the bar's hardness, lather quality, and moisturizing ability. Still confused? Try our herbal soap. Trust us.
Does Botanie Soap use olive oil in their soaps?
No, we do not use olive oil in our base recipe. Instead, we use high-oleic versions of organic sunflower and organic safflower oil. For soap making there is no functional difference. Olive oil produces good quality soap because it contains 80-82% oleic fatty acid, which contributes moisturizing ability to the lather. The organic sunflower oil and organic safflower oil we use contain 81-85% oleic fatty acid, and their other fatty acids line up similarly to those of olive oil. Because of this remarkable similarity, we can substitute these two other oils for olive oil without changing the final soap product (If you are a soap maker, you should do this too). However, although substituting high-oleic sunflower and safflower oil for olive oil does not change the functionality or quality of the soap bar, there is one other significant difference. Olive oil costs much more than the sunflower and safflower oils we source, allowing us to keep our prices down for you while still providing a high quality soap made from organic oils. Also, the safflower oil we use is grown specifically for us right here in MT by an organic farmer we know, keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible on one of our main ingredients.
Do your organic soaps contain glycerin?
Yes. Our soaps qualify as "glycerin soaps," because glycerin accounts for 9-10% of the final product. When whole oils are made into soap via saponification, the resultant products of this reaction are soap and glycerin. This is the case whether we're talking about bar soap saponification or liquid soap saponification. Commercial soap makers remove this glycerin for sale or retain trace amounts so they can include it on their labels, but this is very different from keeping it all. We show this by using the phrase "with retained glycerin" on the common language version of our ingredient labels.
Many people think of "glycerin soap" bars as being transparent. But a good glycerin-rich bar soap does not need to be clear. Although transparent bar soap contains added glycerin, this is not what makes them clear. To produce their transparency, these "glycerin soaps" contain a sugar-alcohol compound that can dry your skin.
How does Botanie Soap get all its soap colors?
Almost all the Botanie Soap colors come from a variety of natural herbs,, though some essential oils also contribute color. Because the herbs we use may vary from batch to batch based on our suppliers, our soap bars often exhibit slight variations in color. This is completely normal. This slight variation is one of the reasons many people choose to use synthetic pigments.
What are essential oils and fragrance oils?
This is one of the most common misrepresentations among natural products, especially for natural soap. Essential oils are pure plant extracts used for scenting or aromatherapy. Fragrance oils are synthetically made substitutes for essential oils. Many soaps, even those labeled "natural" contain fragrance oils. Often, a soap label will say "contains essential oils." However, such a label can be deceiving -- it is always important to check if it ALSO contains fragrance oils. Who cares if a soap contains essential oils when it also contains fragrance oil? Fragrance oils are problematic because, as synthetic compounds, they dry out your skin and irritate sensitive skin. Not to mention that they smell bad. All Botanie Soaps contain only true, plant-extract essential oils. Never fragrance. As always, read a product's label. If the ingredients includes the word "fragrance," "perfume," or "parfum," then it's synthetic and not-natural, even though its packaging may say it is a natural soap. Worse, manufacturers have begun using the phrase "natural fragrance." Don't be fooled, these are synthetic.
Can I use Botanie Soaps organic soap on my sensitive skin?
Although we cannot guarantee it, chances are, yes. Most skin sensitivities are aggravated by the synthetic ingredients in lotions, creams, make-up, and soaps. Without these ingredients, however, there is nothing left to irritate your skin. Many people who have had trouble with dermatologist recommended soap or "sensitive skin" soap have found success with Botanie's organic bar soap and organic liquid soap. This is because even doctor recommended sensitive skin soaps contain many unnecessary chemicals that can, and do, irritate your skin. Again, we can't emphasize enough how important it is to always read the list of ingredients in your soap. Although many people with sensitive skin enjoy using our scented herbal soap varieties, we recommend our Unscented Bar Soap, Unscented Bar Soap, Unscented Foaming Liquid Soap, or Unscented Castile Liquid Soap,for people with extreme sensitivities.
Can customers with eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea use Botanie's soap?
Yes. Our customers with eczema report that they can use our organic bar soap and organic liquid soap with success. Again, remove the synthetic ingredients from soaps and there is nothing left to bother your skin. Of course, there are always exceptions. However, we have many soap users with eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, and they all write to say the same thing: "Thank you!" If you're brand caters to people with sensitive skin, reselling our bar and liquid soap would be a great fit.
What is superfatting?
Superfatting is a process by which soapmakers calculate soap recipes to have an excess of skin-nourishing oils in their soaps. All Botanie soaps have superfatted recipes, including our foaming soap and castile soap (not just the bars). Superfatting soaps does not make your skin oily. Rather, it allows your skin to maintain natural moisture levels.
Do Botanie Soaps organic soaps contain lye?
All soap, including Botanie's, is made using lye. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is used to make bars, and potassium hydroxide (KOH) is used for liquid soap. Even transparent "glycerin" soap and "melt and pour" soaps are made using lye. (Transparent glycerin soaps are made from oil and lye, like opaque soaps, except that a sugar-alcohol compound is added to maintain transparency. "Making soap" by melting them and pouring into molds is actually just reshaping the soap. The original block purchased was made using lye.) In a properly produced soap, lye is a raw ingredient, but there is no lye that remains in the final product. All lye is consumed in the saponification process and presents no danger to you. Superfatting further assures that all lye is consumed. Any company that claims their soap is not made with lye is either promoting false information or doesn't understand the chemistry behind soap.
Do Botanie Soaps herbal soaps contain SLS?
No. SLS (sodium laurel sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate) and other surfactants are often added to soaps to increase lather quality or cut costs. They are commonly found in soaps, including many marketed as natural soaps, as well as glycerin soaps, liquid soaps, and shampoos. As synthetic compounds, SLS and other surfactants dry out your skin and, for many people, cause irritation. At Botanie, we use neither SLS nor any other surfactants. We don't believe in cost-cutting short cuts. Instead, we prefer to focus on making a high quality soap from organic oils that doesn't depend on surfactants for its lather. We carefully balance the oils in our base recipe to provide the proper fatty acid mix for a wonderful, rich - and most importantly - completely natural lather.
Fatty acids sound like chemicals; are they natural?
All oils (and fats) have a molecular form called a triglyceride, which means they are made up of three fatty acids, (just chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms), and a glycerin-like base. In saponification, the fatty acids participate in a chemical reaction that results in molecules of soap while leaving the glycerin behind. We make all our herbal soaps from organic vegetable oils and the natural fatty acids they contain.
What are your organic wholesale soap minimums?
We have some of the lowest wholesale soap minimums. You can learn all about our online purchase minimums of "ready to ship" soap and custom production soap here: Wholesale Organic Soap
Private Label FAQs
What is "Soap for Private Label Use"?
We also call this "custom label soap." As a company, we provide professional quality, certified organic soap bars for you to use with your own private label. Our customers brand the soap as their own and use it in a number of different ways, including reselling it as their own, giving it away as trade show promotionals or other. Some customize labels and use the soap for wedding favors or other event giveaways. The options are unlimited: it's YOUR CUSTOM LABEL. Once you buy from us, it's yours. We also provide packaging options to help you get started. In other words "Soap for private label use" means we provide you with the tools you need for your own custom/private label, and we do not sell these same wholesale soaps under our own label. If you order our custom production, we can provide full private label services, including label printing.
How do I get started?
It's easy, and you can now custom soap, and a member of our team will follow up right away.
Do you print labels?
We provide high-quality custom label printing for custom soap orders. We do not offer this service for orders placed online. For online soap orders, your most cost effective option is to purchase our sheet labels and print them with your printer. You should also use our pre-printed ingredient labels to make sure all your ingredients lists are correct.
What are my packaging options?
Our soap is for your custom private label use. When you order, you will be able to choose the packaging that best suits your needs:
If you need custom soap production, additional packaging options will be available to you.
Can I get printed boxes?
The short answer is Yes. The reality is that printed boxes vary greatly in price depending on quantity. You generally need to order 5,000 of only one design/variety to get the cost below $0.50/box. For most custom box manufacturers, the minimum is about 1,500 per design/variety, and the cost for 1,500 is about $1/box. For a print run of mixed designs/varieties, you will need to order 10,000 boxes to get the cost below $0.50/box... This is why we stock soap boxes and labels for you. It is much more cost effective to use the boxes we provide and print your own labels unless you need large volumes. If you order custom soap production, we can print labels for you.
NOTE: Importantly, when you search for soap boxes online, use the term "folded cartons." Specifically, the type of soap box needed is called an "end tuck folded carton."
Can you help me get printed labels?
Can you help with special packaging needs?
Again, we can usually help with special packaging for customers that order custom soap production. Please note, though, that getting (and applying) custom packaging in small quantities is very expensive.
Do you package my soaps into boxes for me?
Yes. If you purchase our boxes online with your soap order, there is no charge for this service. IMPORTANT: If you order multiple colors of boxes with your soap order, we will not package the bars. If you are ordering custom soap, we price our production and packaging per your custom order.
What are the size of your boxes?
The outer dimensions of our soap boxes are 3.5 x 2.25 x 1.25 inches.
Will you apply my labels if I ship them to you?
We will apply stickers for custom soap production.
Do you offer graphic design services?
We have a graphic designer that can assist with your needs. Our website is an example of our level of work. The rate is $75/hour with a minimum charge of 1 hour.
Custom Soap Production FAQs
What is custom production?
Custom production (also known as "Made-To-Order Production" or "Contract Manufacturing") is an order process where we make your product according to your specifications (scent, color, packaging, bottle/container size, label, etc.) Botanie specializes in short-run, custom production.
What is short-run production?
Conventional Soap Production
Conventional soap manufacturing has large minimums: 25,000-30,000 bars per blend or 700-1000 gallons (12+ drums) of liquid soap per blend. Under this model, if you needed 4 soap blends, you would have to purchase 100,000 bars or about 3,000 gallons. Most soap products you see on store shelves are made in these quantities.
Botanie Soap Short-Run Soap Production
Short-run production refers to any production quantity less than this. Botanie Soap specializes in short-run production. This means bars in the 360-10,000 range and liquid soap in the 25-1,000 gallon range. Of course, we often produce larger quantities, but the key point is that, as a short-run producer, we are the right-sized partner for your business.
What does private label really mean?
In summary, Private Label Soap from Botanie means that we provide products for you to sell with your own brand. Sincle "private label soap" has a more specific meaning, we prefer to call it custom label soap. At Botanie, custom label soap is yours to brand and sell or give away in any way you chose.
No Branding Requirements
- We do not require that you use, display, or even mention our company name.
- Once you buy from us, the soap becomes yours.
- The FDA does not have labeling requirements for skin soap whose purpose is cleaning (the main purpose of soap). You do not need to include ingredients, although we recommend it for customer confidence.
- If you make functionality claims about what the bar or liquid soap does beyond cleaning, such as calling the product "moisturizing soap," then you have ventured into the realm of cosmetics and need to follow additional FDA regulations. Since we’re a soap company, we can no longer help you with label advice if you go in this direction.
- You don’t even need a label and may sell bar or liquid soap in a bulk, unlabeled fashion if that is best suited to your business strategy.
- For organic claims, qualifying soap falls into the USDA National Organic Program's category called "made with organic…" This means a product’s organic content is between 70% and 94%. Specific labeling rules related to "made with organic…" products can be found on the USDA’s website, and they can feel tedious if you’re not familiar with them. If you choose to take your product in this direction, we will assist you with understanding the policies. After all, organic and helping customers is what we do.
Label & packaging design
Ultimately, your packaging options come down to quantity (more soap = more options). That doesn’t mean smaller orders can’t be awesome; it’s just that the packaging industry works from a volume perspective. Please call, and we’ll help clarify all your packaging options.
- We offer six colors of recycled soap boxes that perfectly fit our 4 oz bar soap (Kraft brown boxes are available for 1oz bars).
- We can help with sourcing custom printed boxes for orders over 5,000 bars.
- We offer shrink wrap with or without boxes.
- We can custom print high-quality bar soap labels
- We supply blank stickers that fit our soap boxes. They come on 8.5 x 11 sheets, and you can print on them from your own computer.
- We stock a few standard sizes: 8 oz foam pumps, 16 oz foam/castile bottles, 32 oz foam/castile bottles, gallons for refills, etc.
- We will work with our suppliers to help you find the bottles you need for your brand.
- We can custom print high-quality liquid soap labels, including waterproof options.
- We supply blank stickers that fit many bottle sizes. They come on 8.5 x 11 sheets, and include waterproof options.
Working with Botanie
Customization of the Product Itself
We will work with you to create the scents, textures, and colors you need for your bar or liquid soap using our vast access to botanical ingredient and suppliers. You may bring your existing ideas/blends to us, or we can help you formulate new ones. Bar soaps can include logo stamping.
Minimum custom order is one batch per blend. Approximate batch sizes are:
Bar Soap Batch Sizes (must be ordered in multiples of these batch sizes)
- 6 oz. - 240bars
- 4 oz. - 360 bars (standard bar size)
- 2 oz. - 660 bars
- 1.75 oz. - 810 bars
- 1 oz. - 1,540 bars
- 0.75 oz. - 1,800 bars
Liquid Soap (can be ordered in any quantity beyond the 25 gallon per blend minimum)
- Foaming - 25 gallons/blend
- Castile - 25 gallons/blend
- We can provide liquid soap as bulk (pails/drums), or we can fill individual bottles and containers.
Your final cost per unit depends on several variables:
- Bar soap size / liquid soap volume
- Essential oils for scent (some can be very pricey – we will help you determine this)
- Soap quantity (soap prices drop with volume; shipping costs/bar also drop with volume)
- Packaging options and/or stamping
Once your project details are finalized, typical turn-around time is:
- Bars - 6 weeks to ship
- Liquid - 4 weeks to ship
* * * It is important to note that these lead times are averages. Actual production times vary based on ingredients, packaging, and other variables. * * *
Custom Production Process Overview
1. Concept development
2. Custom soap test batches
NOTE: The above steps apply to first-time orders only. Repeat orders take place more quickly.
4. (1.) Deposit
5. (2.) Production
6. (3.) Shipping
7. (4.) Reordering because your product is so successful!
Custom production is truly a partnership activity. Be sure to contact us to learn about custom soap production options and how we work with you to get you the exact product you need.
Botanie Soap maintains an organic certificate issued in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program. As our customer, you have access to this powerful marketing tool and can piggy-back on our organic certificate. Please note: even though you are using our certificate, this process still requires a lot of work and compliance with policy from you as well as an additional cost per item sold. We will help you through each step of the process.
Clarification About Organic
The term "organic" is often misunderstood as it applies to soap. Soap (all soap, even transparent glycerin soap) is the product of a full chemical reaction that limits its organic content percentage. As such, it falls into the USDA’s organic category called "Made with Organic…" for products with organic content between 70% and 94%. It is chemically impossible to reach levels higher than about 90% in a true soap, and any company claiming to do so does not understand the organic certification process. All Botanie’s bar soaps come in at approximately 85% organic content by weight, and our liquid soaps are 81-82%. Both fully qualify in the USDA National Organic Program.
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