Soap makers often sell handcrafted soap in one of two ways: as individual bars or soap loaves. The loaves are sold wholesale to individuals who want to cut the bars and package them for resale under a private label. Some consumers also enjoy cutting their own soap and prefer buying entire soap loaves to cut themselves. A soap loaf is bulk soap that is often sold by the weight. The soap is made by the soap maker and cured and sold as a rectangular block using a variety of scents, oils, and ingredients.
Soap making is a chemical process, and the main ingredient used, lye, is caustic. Some soap makers shy away from using lye and would prefer that someone else goes through the process of soap making and hand them over finished soap loaves. Saponification, which is the process of the ingredients reacting and producing the soap and eliminating the lye, often takes four to eight weeks. If soap makers need quicker access to inventory, they can purchase loaves of soap to supplement their stock or replace it entirely. It’s possible to buy loaves with just about any soap ingredient or to ask the soap maker to make a custom batch.
Individuals often purchase loaves to make their own bath soap and to make gifts for family and friends. For example, natural handmade soap often makes a great addition to a gift basket. It can be used as party or wedding favors, or bars can be individually gift wrapped and given as presents. The soap loaf can be cut with a knife, but soap cutters are often a better choice for a more professional look. Soap molds with cutting slots are often used to cut straight bars, but stainless steel miter boxes are another option. Straight-edge or crinkle cut soap cutters are often used by professional soap makers and are sold to the public.
The dimensions of a soap loaf depend on the soap molds the soap was made from. Soap loaves often weigh between 12 and 15 pounds. The soap maker makes an entire soap block and cuts loaves from it or makes smaller batches in a soap mold that fits the dimension of a rectangular soap loaf. It’s often possible to buy a soap block in lieu of a soap loaf, at a cheaper rate per pound. Soap blocks are much heavier and often weigh three times as much as individual soap loaves.