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Friendly Fumes is 'In-the-News'

The Latest on Friendly Fumes in the news...

at Bath and Body Find

See (Visit) for the review or read it below.


Review of Cold Processed Soaps and Matching Lotions from Friendly Fumes

by Avery, added 8/9/10

review_friendly fumes_soaps.pngBrand: Friendly Fumes

Soap 4.5 oz., $5.00

Matching lotions: 4 oz., $6.00 & 8 oz., $10.00

Pineapple Cilantro
Philly Nice
Blueberry Honeysuckle
Peach Gardenia
Lavender Coriander
Jasmine Grapefruit
Grapefruit Orange


1_b&b_Tiny-Avery.pngIf you are a fan of our sister site, Candlefind, you already know the "fragrant" folks at Friendly Fumes. Bob, the fourth generation soap maker, (and soy candle maker) has been hard at work mixing up new scents for the summer, and asked us to take them for a test drive along with a few standards. Seven "flavors" of soaps and lotions - this is a dream job!



I tried the soap as a hand soap and in the shower. Washing my hands with Friendly Fumes soaps was not drying. Usually, I head right for the lotion after hand-washing and I deliberately abstained and let my hands go naked1_b&b Bars of handmade soap.jpg for awhile, something that I Handmade soaps usually can not handle. While I would not always do this, this soap did not leave my skin so dry that it was uncomfortable.


The soaps come in natural brown soap-size boxes with a clear sticker with the Friendly Fumes logo (a colorful flame) on top, and their motto: "Everybody is always stickin' their nose in our business". The side panels of the box has the name of the fragrance on one side, the ingredients on the other. The soaps slices are sealed in little cellophane bags, keeping the scents confined and non-mingling.







Testing, I like the way Friendly Fume's lotions feel on my hands. They leave them feeling soft and moisturized, not at all greasy. I get annoyed when I have to hang out and wait for my lotion to absorb before I pick things up. Not the case here, it disappears as I rub it on. The lotion is a good consistency too - not runny, not sticky.

The lotions come in the cobalt blue bottles with the white "pop tops", and the label is tan with the fragrance name and the ingredients.

The lotions are dye-free.1_b&b Applying lotion.png

I am getting anxious! Let's go try all these scents!

- Friendly Fumes are all veggie lotions, they are advertised as "luxurious, fast absorbing, non-greasy" and are available in 160 fragrances. The ingredients contain blends of certified organic aloe vera, green tea, chamomile extracts, and natural plant emollients to "soothe and protect dry, sensitive, thirsty skin". We are about to see if that is true! (I should add that there are several moisturizers on the site besides these, such as Mango butter and Unrefined Nigerian Shea butter). - Using castor oil, olive oil and shea butter, Friendly Fumes creates soaps that have a rich, and luxurious foamy lather, the kind with the silky, tiny, abundant bubbles that feel like velvet! The soap itself has a luxurious feeling when moistened. It feels slippery - and that is good! I really don't like it when a wet soap drags across my hands. My hands washed clean, no leftover residue noted - no sticky palms! Bob uses pure essential oils for fragrancing and the cold process-reduced water method to make his soap. This means the soap needs to cure, (so order early if you have deadlines)! The soap comes in several sizes, including a cute little ½ ounce tester! Bob said they tried about 28 formulas before they found the "right" soap. This guy is dedicated to his craft!


Pineapple Cilantro

"An amazingly rich and fruity pineapple scent with just a hint of green. An exotic combination of lime slices, pineapple chunks and orange slices with a mild spicy twist"


Soap - (light yellow-orange, darker swirls) The soap has a mild scent that is noticeable when I use Pineapple Cilantro it, but like many soaps,1_b&b Pineapple1.png it is not a long-term scent. But, it sure smells good when I am washing!


Lotion - This one is marked "S" for strong - just the way I like my lotions! This is a great scent, good for layering after scrubbing with the matching scent. The Pineapple is the first scent to greet your nose then that herby/green and lime follows - a good combo for those hot humid days, this scent has summer written all over it! The scent lingered for at least a half an hour.


Philly Nice

"A fresh, clean ozone type with top-notes of bergamot, lemon, pomelo, fir and juniper berry, followed by a spicy ginger, lavender and sage middle-note and a mossy vetiver, sandalwood and white musk base-note". Loved by Men too!

Soap - (Natural swirled with brick red ) This is a pretty soap, it has the look of a pretty red agate rock. The scent is faint in this soap, it smells primarily clean. (Which, I suppose, is a good thing for soap!) While it is not strong to sniff, it is one of those soaps that you can smell drifting in the air Philly Nice bath and body review when it is sitting in the soap dish.

1_b&b Breezy girl.png

Lotion - This is where all those notes come together, and while it is clean smelling like the soap, the overall feeling of the scent is masculine to me. I like the blend, and it is hard to pick out the different scents, but I find the juniper, vetiver and bergamot to be the ones that my nose finds. Maybe some sage? Since those notes can be somewhat harsh, and this scent, while snappy, is not intense, my guess that is the musk is giving it the softness.




Grapefruit Orange

"A perfect combination of tart grapefruit and sweet orange"

Soap - (dark gold) Oh - here is a fun one! It gets Grapefruit Orange soap and lotion review from Friendly Fumes its color from paprika - and you can see the little rusty specks in the gold semi-transparent soap. So cool! The scent is very light, I get mainly grapefruit with a orange peel scent.1_b&b Grapefuit Orange.png

Lotion -This is marked as a medium scented lotion. First sniff is that grapefruit again, but then as it warms it takes a twist - it begins to smell like the orangey peels with spices like Constant Comment tea! I couldn't quit sniffing my hands - I am sure people that saw me thought I had some type of OCD disorder! This scent lasted quite awhile on my hands - at least an hour.


Blueberry Honeysuckle

"Juicy, tart, sweet, and slightly sulphuric scent of blueberries, tempered with the lilting sweetness of honeysuckle"

Soap - (medium blue) This is another nice textured soap, with a foamy lather. The scent is sweet and light.

Lotion - Yum! Just YUM! This is a pretty neat scent if you have not tried it. I took a sniff and thought Blueberry honeysuckle soap and lotion 1_b&b blueberries1.pngreview for bath and body find"blueberry! No... it's honeysuckle! Wait... no... its blue... honey... well, it is a really good, complementary blend, that's what it is!"

This one is marked Medium, and it is a good thing. This is a very sweet blend and I think that a stronger scent would be too much. For me this is good in smaller doses, and it lasted about a half hour once I applied it. If you are a sweet pea and raspberry fan, you might like the sweetness here.




1_b&b Half of Grapefruit.png

Grapefruit Jasmine

"A blend of feminine jasmine and tart grapefruit"


Soap - (peachy pink) I get mainly grapefruit in my sniffs once the wrapper is off. After it has been used, the scent is very mild - but again, I find that to be the case in many soaps unless I re wrap them when they dry.1_b&b Jasmine.jpg

Lotion - Just the opposite! I smell the Jasmine leading here, with the grapefruit preventing floral overload. It has a nice balance - it finishes somewhat spicy. This lotion is marked "strong", and over time the jasmine won out - this is the scent your little sister/niece/young daughter will steal and use when you are not looking!


Lavender Coriander

"A great fresh unisex fragrance. A very clear and clean lavender aspect, with a warm coriander base, clean and crisp"

Soap - (lavender-gray) This is the lavender that I think of when novels talk about the lavender sachets tucked in between the embroidered handkerchiefs. It is a quaint, 1_b&b Lavender Soap.pngold-fashioned smell, and I mean that in a good way. It is not a artificial soap scent, by any means. The scent is mild, but I can clearly smell it.

Lotion - The predominant scent is the lavender, although my nose says there is something else. It does not scream "Coriander!" however. Coriander is not common is bath and body products, (but pretty darn good in apple pie!) Some describe coriander as "lavender-like" or "pungent", and some as "sweetish and slightly bitter" in scent. It is doing a great job of mingling with its partner because this is a pleasant blend. I like the name, Lavender Coriander, as it sounds unique, and gets my curiosity up! I am a fan of lavender, so I liked this scent combination, a fresh and energizing blend. It was still mildly scenting after a half an hour.





Peach Gardenia

"Aspects of the lush, juicy fruit as well as the romantic white flower"

1_b&b peaches.png

Soap - (tan and orange ) I really did not smell much on this soap when I opened it - until I got it; Then there was a big burst of scent - hard to distinguish the exact notes, but my nose said "fruity"!

Lotion - Relax... this will not make you smell like the Senior Prom! This scent is so much fun - when I applied it, the ripe peachy scent was in the forefront, but on the next whiff the spicy gardenia was what I smelled. I am not sure how Bob pulled that off - but it was so much fun sniffing this chameleon scent that I passed it out to friends so they could smell the scent changing for themselves. Moderately strong - it didn't linger as long as some of the others.





Final thoughts...

Friendly Fumes has done an exceptional job of coming up with some scents that are summer-friendly. Most of the newest scents have a fruit n floral mix that feels fresh and simple when the sun is beating down and you are not in the mood for heavier scents. (We could just do a temporary hold on the fragranced items until the temperature drops, but as scent addicts... give up on scent completely? Never!)

It's been a long hot summer, so when you1_b&b Happy woman.jpg are comfortably situated in front of the A/C and feeling a little self-indulgent, pull up Friendly Fumes web site and check out all the scents and products.

For those that have trouble making up their mind, Bob has you covered with Sampler Boxes.

Happy scented summer!

~ Avery

Visit Friendly Fumes

More Friendly Fumes in the news at...

See (Visit) for the review or read it below.


sugar_cookie_19.pngSugar Cookie from Friendly Fumes

Even though they've been around since 2000, I had never heard of this company until I tested their Sugar Cookie candle. But believe me, this is one vendor that I definitely MUST go back to and try more. To begin with, Friendly Fumes' customer service and communication are marvelous! I love companies that treat you like a welcome friend or guest, rather than just another faceless order (or worse, an annoying distraction to their very busy lives). The owners, Bob and Sue, are really sweet and go out of their way to be helpful. They even threw in a delicious-smelling bar of their handmade soap along with the candle, which was of course right up my alley, since my bath and body product addiction rivals my candle addiction!


Located in Green Lane, Pennsylvania, Friendly Fumes has a ton of different candle types - jars, pillars, votive's, tealights, you name it - and a very lengthy and well-rounded scent list. They've also got a full line of bath and body products for women and men in addition to the handmade soaps and sell fragrance and essential oils to boot. I love their site and could spend hours drooling and deciding what to buy.


The Sugar Cookie candle that I tested was a 10 oz apothecary jar with black handled lid and bright white 100% soy wax. It had two wicks, burned perfectly, and the scent - OMG, as my daughter would say. It was absolutely scrumptious!! Of all the candles and melts I tested, this one was the most like a cookie without frosting - it was a true, rich cookie dough with a hint of spices that's been baked until it's just crisp. Yum! I really loved the bakery notes to this one; they were sweet and authentic without being cloying. Friendly Fumes has captured this scent perfectly. And to put icing on the cookie, so to speak, the candle threw like crazy - it filled my powder room as well as the hallway, the computer room and much of the living room as well. And after I blew it out it lingered for almost an hour - how great is that?!







Even More Friendly Fumes news from...

See (Visit) for the review or read it below.

Friendly Fumes Scented Candle Review in the following Scents - Snicker doodle, Apple Cinnamon, Lavender, Vanilla, Sweet Black Pepper & Lavender Shortbread

by Avery, added 2/15/10

review_friendly fumes_soaps.png

Brand: Friendly Fumes


Type: Clamshells - 3.99
24 oz - 21.95
16 oz/ 16.95 - 17.95
10 oz - 13.95


Snicker doodle
Apple Cinnamon
Lavender Vanilla
Sweet Black Pepper
Lavender Shortbread

Strength: Medium+


1_b&b_Tiny-Avery.pngIntroduction to Friendly fumes scented candle review:

Friendly Fumes was a new company to me. I get excited about trying anew company so one of the first things I do is head to the web site and start cyber shopping. (Hmm…is there a better term for computer window shopping?)

This web site is very easy to understand and navigate with little fussiness or nonessential pictures on the site to distract you. Friendly Fumes offers container candles, tins, pillars, votive's, hearts and melts along with bath products, (Bob is a fourth generation soap maker!) so there is a lot to choose from! There are several styles of candles, and the scent list is large - with several types of vanillas, gingers and also several lavenders as well as many unusual scents if you are looking to expand your fragrance horizons... like Steamy Sauna! How about trying White Maple and Clove? Chocolate Raspberry Roll?

The owner, Bob, is great to work with and sent a nice selection of candles with the newest style candle, the cascade jar, in the biggest size: 24 oz. FUN and uh oh… He did not know what a gamble that was… you may recall that I am not much of a bakery gal! Could I be convinced? It was time for a candle-burning smack down.


Snicker doodle:

What did my 24 oz Snicker doodle candle look like?

The soft soy wax was a creamy, toasty tan. The cascade jar was unique - an updated style that has apothecary the_cascade_collection.pngstyle clear glass with a double "bump" near the base. The clear, in obtrusive label includes their tag line: "Everybody is always stickin' their nose in our business". On the back is a small clear sticker with the scent name in black. I have glass lids, but you may choose other metal types."


How did my candle smell?
"A freshly baked, cinnamon sugar cookie type with a hot buttered, creamy vanilla top-note, a spicy clove, cinnamon and ginger middle-note, with a sugary sweet vanilla base-note."

I burned the candle in a medium size bedroom (about 9 x 12 ) and you could definitely smell it! OK, 'fess up… what are you expecting from the non-bakery gal? How about a polite discussion that does not really say much about the scent? If so, you are so wrong!


Here is the good part - I liked this scent! The candle really did remind me of a hot Snicker doodle, one that you have just scooped off the cookie sheet. The smell was of warm cookies with a sugary crisp shell, a hint of cinnamon. You know the smell of the crispy buttery-sugary outside that you bite through to the soft inner doodle? That's it!

I moved the candle to a smaller room where the scent was stronger and then melted 2 cubes in a tea light melter in the bedroom. The scenting was medium, no trouble melting and they lasted about 6 hours. The smell also lingered for quite awhile after the flames were out!


16_oz_apothecary_jar_soy_candle.png Lavender Vanilla:

What does my Lavender Vanilla candle look like?

This is a standard apothecary jar. The wax is dye-free. The Friendly Flumes' small rectangular label is on the front, (again, black writing on a clear sticker with a colorful flame graphic and the tag line). The back has a sticker with the scent name. Double wicked again!


How did my Lavender Vanilla candle smell? (no description on site)


Usually when you get Lavender Vanilla scented candles, it is the commercial scent, the one that we associate with fabric softener that comes to mind. This one is a little different. It is more of a botanical lavender with vanilla rounding out the scent. This was the strongest of the candles that I tried - the scent filled the room, and it felt crisp and clean, very soothing and spa-like.

I used 2 cubes from the matching clamshell in a tea light melter. The strength of the melts matched the strength of the candle - it was hard to tell which was burning. That is good news since candles usually have a much lighter scent throw than melts!

The Lavender Vanilla turned out to be my favorite scent in the group I tried.


Apple Cinnamon

"Baked apples with cinnamon, mmmm!"

This is their best seller. This candle is in a Mason jar, with one wick - that is all that is needed, believe me! The color intrigued me - it is not the typical red apple. I am not sure the color actually has a name - it is a reddish-pinkish-brown! Again the label is clear with black writing and does not detract from the appearance at all.

How did my Apple Cinnamon candle smell?


This candle was a very nice balance of the two scents. It really does have a yummy scent and I can see why it is a big seller! It would be the perfect scent to start off autumn if you are a seasonal melter like I am. This had the lightest throw of the scents tested. Don't let that stop you from choosing this one, though - it certainly was strong enough for a small bedroom, even stronger in my smaller front hall and it is a nice addition to any apple connoisseur's collection.

Two cubes from the clamshell in a tea light melter and once again, the scent was about equal in both the candle and melt.


Sweet Black Pepper  

I was not convinced that this was going to smell like pepper, so I was anxious to give this one a try.

The cold sniff was interesting - it started out more like a spicy cinnamon. After it was melted, the scent was a spicy, pungent blend. At first I thought that it was not pepper black_pepper.pngthat I smelled. So, I tried to define what that note was that was blended with the other spicy notes and actually, I had to admit that black pepper turned out to be the closest scent to what I was smelling! It will be the type of scent that your friends and family will look at you quizzically and say "what is that scent? I know it, but I can't seem to place it". It is not for everyone, but I enjoyed the change. There really is a note on the finish that is quite similar to sniffing your pepper grinder, but of course the sneeze is absent.

The throw was medium strong - both on the candle and the melts. (Using 2 cubes from the clamshell again in a tea light melter.) I opened the door and was met with the scent. It is not overpowering and believe me, that is good for this type of scent! Interestingly, the longer the melt was melting, the more it smelled like black pepper. So here is your Martha Stewart moment: The next time you roll back the rug and host a Salsa dancing party, try replacing the Margarita scent with this one - it will add a little zip to the evening!


Lavender Shortbread

Before you say "Huh? Those scents don't mix!" let me remind you about the Yankee scent, Shortbread Cookie, that flew off the shelf. There were lavender notes in that! Yes, seriously!

I just happened to have an old jar of that Shortbread to compare - and I can tell you, the cold sniff on FF was a lot stronger! There are differences in the balance of the unsure_woman.pngnotes - the Friendly accents the lavender with a nice cookie chaser. Yankee's is predominantly cookie with just a little tickle of something different in the finish.

This is also smells more like a botanical lavender, not a "cosmetic" lavender (the kind you find in many inexpensive bath products.) When you first smell the scent you breathe in the lavender and then suddenly you are aware the scent is not finished - the shortbread follows softly to make a very interesting and more complex scent.

This candle was also had a pretty good throw - not intense, but strong enough again to sent the bedroom nicely. The melts performed as the others had, easy to melt, lasting about 4 hours with a scent a little stronger than the candle.


candle_flame.pngHow did my candles from Friendly Fumes burn?

WOOHOO! Double wicks on the apothecary and cascade jars! These wicks made burning a very big candle much easier! It made the melt pool in the usual "8", but the pool was large. Only a little wax stuck to the jar right at the middle indent of the 8. I left the wicks a little longer on these candles, this could have helped. (The trade-off with a big melt pool can be drowning wicks.) Of course when you do keep them a wee bit longer, you have more carbon trimming to do, but the hassle is minimal. You will remember to clip before you relight! The burn was very clean, no soot noted.

The Mason jar? One word - Great! Only one wick but it makes a nice, full melt pool with the slightly longer wick, so I had to be sure I wasn't snip-happy when trimming.


Final thoughts on Friendly Fumes Candles:

I have to admit, I am itching to get more of these candles! I had slipped away from candle burning and mainly into melting because of strength of throw and wick and soot hassles. But these candles are so easy! They form a melt pool quickly so no more "4 hour minimum time commitments" once you light your candle. The candle scents almost matched the melts in strength, so if you enjoy candles, you can have thatthumbs_up_girl.png comforting flame while you scent your room. If you are still a melter at heart, you won't go wrong trying those either.

Another thing I like about this company - the scent lingers! I really enjoyed walking into the room a couple hours later and still having wisps of scent - noticeable with both lavenders and the Snicker doodle. (And who would have thought that I would have wanted the Snicker doodle to linger when we started out this review, LOL!)

I suggest that you check out their selection of 100% soy candles with Eco-friendly scents and since they offer 4 oz Variety Sample Packs, it makes choosing a cinch! (Didn't get that special gift you hinted about for Valentine's Day? Perhaps that special someone in your life could get back in your good graces with the "Cupid Collection" sample pack. What better way to win a scent addict's heart!)


Happy candle shopping!

~ Avery





Friendly Fumes in the news (Part I of III)...


See (Visit) for the review or read it below.





Lather up with local

artisan soap:

interview part 1



Burlington County Times


By: David Rauch

FRIENDLY Fumes makes the definition of hand-made products. Based out of his wooded, Montgomery County home, Bob Henninger crafts artisan soap for an international market. His all-natural approach and emphasis on community-support has made him desirable to the growing market of conscious consumers. I sat down with Bob to see how one can turn an interest into a lucrative business.


David Rauch: Could you tell me what your company does and how you got started?

Bob Henninger: What we make is handmade products. I started off wanting to make fragrances, perfumes and soap. I didn't know there was an online community of soap-makers. I started from a book and just did recipes. I, along with the rest of the country, have gone to soy-based products People started asking for candles, and they were also asking for lotion, so whatever they asked for, I made. I use total, 100% natural essential oil soap.

DR: How did you get started? Do you have another job?

BH: I work at a spin off of Ford motor company. I just see that automotive is really bad, so this company is me trying to prepare something for my retirement, something I like to do. Our plant had 2,500 hourly employees, now there are around 200. So, I may get to retire, I may not. However, this is what I want to do.

DR: What does working with essential oils mean?

BH: Essential oils come directly from nature. Some people are sensitive to synthetic fragrances that larger corporations may use as opposed to essential oils.
My fragrances start with a base of essential oils, and my perfumer builds it up. My big point was to get rid of a plasticizer called Phthalate [a multifunctional chemical used in consumer and personal care products]. Everything coming in is Phthalate-free.
Essential oils come from some varied part of a plant. It could either be bark, leaves, branches or roots. They're usually steam-distilled. For example, Lavender is picked in the morning, then it's put in steamers. They boil water underneath, push steam through the lavender, the oils go out in a little distillation, and the pure oil comes into a collection pot.

DR:  How many fragrances do you have?

BH: I have over 200. Right now, I have 80 different soaps, but between the soap, the candles and the lotion, I have over 200 fragrances.  I'm starting to get into mixing the fragrances myself. I have 200 fragrances in the other room, and now, I feel comfortable doing the blending. 


To read more interviews with local artisans and culture-makers, check out my Raison d'Etre blog.


To see more information and buying information, check out Friendly Fume's website.


February 20, 2009 6:10 PM



Rating: 5.0 of 5.






More from David Rauch (Part II) ...


See (Visit) for the review or read it below.





Lather up with local

artisan soap:

interview part 2



The Intelligencer


By: David Rauch


FRIENDLY Fumes makes the definition of hand-made products. Based out of his wooded, Montgomery County home, Bob Henninger crafts artisan soap for an international market. His all-natural approach and emphasis on community-support has made him desirable to the growing market of conscious consumers. I sat down with Bob to see how one can turn an interest into a lucrative business.


David Rauch:  You work with some familiar fragrances like Channel #5, could you describe what goes into the scents to make them so distinct?

Bob Henninger:  What happens when a fragrance becomes popular, there are fragrance companies that can do reverse engineering, which sounds wrong but is legal, and they just copy the fragrance. They can't copy it exactly because these big companies protect their suppliers. They duplicate the scents with a process called "Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry" [or GC/MS]. They just put the perfume into a machine and "bam-bam," they copy it. Our Channel is a copy, and on our site is should say 'type' behind it. Bath and Body gets copied. Yankee gets copied. Aveda gets copied. It's just what happens .

DR:  Could you explain why people want to copy fragrances? What kind of work goes into making a defined scent?

BH:  From a practical point of view, we couldn't afford to use the real stuff, though we couldn't use it anyway because it has alcohol in it. Some scents are popular with demographic groups. Concerning Channel, I suppose it might be before my time. [Their website describes Channel #5 as: "a floral bouquet of jasmine, rose, carnation and jonquil enhanced by aldehydes on a background of musk and wood."] Any mixture of scents can make a distinct connection with a person. We try to give them what they want.

DR:  Could you explain how using all plant-based oils for your soaps is different from some of the common practices in soap-making of the last few decades?

BH:   Right now, everything is going natural. My soap doesn't use any tallow or lard either. It's just 50% olive oil and the rest is either coconut, palm or palm kernel oil. I use them interchangeably. If I don't get the effect I want with palm, I switch it around. A chemist friend once told me that I can tailor the soap base to the fragrance. I found that sometimes I could switch the palm and the palm kernel, and going back at the soap, I could get a harder, longer-lasting bar. Of course, I use castor oil and shea butter. Sometimes I put mango, cocoa butter or all three. It depends. In an unscented soap, we'll have all three of those moisturizers.

DR:  When you're making a soap, what the are qualities you look for by experimenting?

BH:  I'm looking a long-lasting bar with good quality of suds.


More of this interview to come.


To read more interviews with local artisans and culture-makers, check out my Raison d'Etre blog.


To see more information and buying information, check out Friendly Fume's website.


February 27, 2009 5:16 PM



Rating: 5.0 of 5.






More from David Rauch (Part III) ...


See (Visit) for the review or read it below.





Lather up with local

artisan soap:

interview part 3



The Intelligencer


By: David Rauch


FRIENDLY Fumes makes the definition of hand-made products. Based out of his wooded, Montgomery County home, Bob Henninger crafts artisan soap for an international market. His all-natural approach and emphasis on community-support has made him desirable to the growing market of conscious consumers. I sat down with Bob to see how one can turn an interest into a lucrative business.


David Rauch:  When you're making a soap, what are the qualities you look for?

Bob Henninger:  Essentially, I'm looking two things: a long-lasting bar with good quality of suds. You can switch the ratio of different oils for feel or match oils for scent. What's most important is consistency. Each bar has to be perfect, so the experimenting has to be repeatable. My grandmother and my uncles made their own soap, but they just used to dump stuff in. Here, we use soap-making calculators, and once you have a recipe, it's wise to run your ingredients through it. It tells you exactly how much to put in of each ingredient.

DR:  How long does it take to make a bar of soap from start to finish?

BH:  First, I calculate and mix the ingredients. On the third day, I cut the logs down into bars, and they'll sit and cure for six or so weeks. The curing process slowly releases the water from the soap. It takes a couple weeks to firm up, and then they're shipped out.

DR:  Some of the soaps you sell have natural ingredients like tea tree oil and oatmeal. Most commercial soap is synthetic based, but how do these natural ingredients help the skin?

BH:  For example, Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic. I get a lot of orders in California for tea tree oil candles because it's supposed to clean the air. During the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, people would buy a lot of tea tree oil soap because of the antiseptic properties. They would take a few bars with them just so they could wash up.

DR:  How big is your company? How far do you send your products?

BH:  In January, we opened our shipping to Canada and Europe. It's pretty expensive to ship that far, so they would have to really want it, and they must, because we're selling.

DR:  How is your soap different that people will have it shipped so far?

BH:  I'm in the soap guild, and that helps build exposure. There are a thousand members of the guild, and we're waiting for the day when the kind of soap we make becomes mainstream, when people will move past commercial soap and only buy the handmade stuff. Until the day that handmade soaps are available everywhere, people will ship handmade soaps like mine around. Once they find a soap they like online, they're very loyal.


To read more interviews with local artisans and culture-makers, check out my Raison d'Etre blog.


To see more information and buying information, check out Friendly Fume's web site.



March 5, 2009 4:36 PM



Rating: 5.0 of 5.



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