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What are Soap Loaves?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

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.

Lye, which can be used to make soap.
Lye, which can be used to make soap.

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.

Soap loaves can be cut into individual bars of soap.
Soap loaves can be cut into individual bars of soap.

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.

Discussion Comments


@shell4life – I agree that it doesn't lather very well, but I love glycerin soap for its skin-softening ability. After using a bar of this, my skin is very well moisturized.

I buy loaves of glycerin soap and cut them into decorative shapes with a cutter. I have one that cuts soap into seashell shapes and another that makes flower shaped soap.

I put several of these into a basket and give them as gifts. Glycerin soap is transparent, so it looks really cool. I can buy it in whatever color I choose, and it will always be transparent.


@Perdido - I have found that while glycerin soap smells good and looks pretty, it does not work well as a soap. For holding a scent, it is the best, but for lathering, it is the worst.

So, I buy olive oil soap loaves. Many soap companies prefer to use vegetable-based soap ingredients, and I think that anytime you can choose a natural product, you should.

My soap loaves also contain shea butter and aloe, which are both very moisturizing. They never dry out my skin, and I never get irritated after using it.


Does anyone here have experience with glycerin soap? I am thinking of buying a soap loaf of some sort, because it seems to be more cost effective than buying individual bars.

I have smelled some glycerin soap bars at my friend's house before, and the scent was amazing. I have never actually used this type of soap, though, and I don't want to buy it without knowing how well it works.

Once I find a soap that I love, I tend to stick with it for a long time. That is why I think I should be buying loaves and cutting them myself.


I like buying soap loaves and making my own gift soap from them. I don't know anything about the actual soapmaking process, so buying loaves ready made and pre-scented is the ideal choice for me.

The company that I buy from charges $12 for a soap loaf weighing three pounds. So, I only pay a small amount for something that I can cut into several gifts for my friends. This saves me a ton on birthday and Christmas presents!

My friends know that I love cutting my own soap, and they expect to receive some from me on every special occasion. Some have even requested the soap after they have run out!

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    • Lye, which can be used to make soap.
      By: Adam Engelhart
      Lye, which can be used to make soap.
    • Soap loaves can be cut into individual bars of soap.
      By: lily
      Soap loaves can be cut into individual bars of soap.