How are Nurme soaps made? How long does it take to make soap and how many soaps are made in one brand new soap house in one day? Read on and find out all about it.
Fifteen years ago, Marit couldn’t even think that her personal interest in making something with her own hands would grow into something so big and important. Marit, who was expecting a child at the time, worked in the office and felt that she wanted to do something that would also refresh the soul. At first she undertook the craft, but realized quite quickly that it was not for her. Then I noticed the handmade soap, which was gaining popularity in England. In Estonia, soap making was still the art of our ancestors under a thick layer of dust. Marit recalls that she got the first soap dish from an acquaintance. Coconut and palm oil and olive and sunflower oil were purchased from the store. The price of the raw material was very expensive and the cost of the soap was therefore quite crunchy. Nevertheless, Marit distributed 800 soaps made with care and love.
Marit herself was back in the office after the decree, but her friends were still very interested in the piece of soap she made. Marit’s mother, Luule Tiits, recalls that her daughter had repeatedly advised her to make soap, but until then she did not take the offer seriously until receiving the redundancy notice left no other choice. At the beginning, it seemed to Luule that it was not possible to make more than a couple hundred soaps a week – making and packing soaps alone was a very time-consuming and precise handicraft. Today, 12 years later, 2,700 soaps are made in Nurme’s new soap house in one day, and there is a separate person for each stage of work.
Nothing is wasted during soap making
Stepping into the brand new soap house in the yard of Räbina farm, you see a diligent bee in the production room, who cuts the already hardened soap into bars and then into handy pieces. The cut pieces are carefully spread out in a box to dry so that there is free air space on each side. At the same time, another worker cleans the molds, where the new soap mixture is poured and left to solidify overnight. He removes the last piece left in the box from the bottom of the box with a spatula. Residues are not thrown away into the trash but are collected together with all other residues from soap production. All these soap residues are mixed together in our popular mixed soap. The same is done with the strips leftover from cutting the soap because nothing is wasted that way. We make colored mixed soap in small batches and it is possible to buy it in larger quantities without packaging. Precisely because of its environmentally friendly nature, the blended soap has won the hearts of many Nurme customers.
At the same time, a third active manufacturer folds up a thin piece of paper, using it to line boxes so that the soap does not stick. Just as baking paper must be placed at the bottom of the mold when making a cake, the same rule applies to soap. At the same time, the beautiful white coconut fat melts in a large saucepan. The temperature in a large pot reaches 80 degrees. A goat’s milk soap recipe is already on the table so you know exactly how many ingredients are needed. The quantities are large, so the raw materials are mixed together in a large container placed on an industrial scale. A large mixer is used for mixing, which can be done in a few minutes, regardless of the amount.
How many times do you have to pour to get 2720 pieces of soap?
When the mixture is thoroughly mixed and feels silky, the liquid is poured into boxes. Pouring is a team effort because pouring a soap dish alone is too difficult. The same operation is repeated 16 times until all 32 boxes are filled and left to solidify on the desks. The next day, the soap is cut and then taken to the next room to dry. The soap takes a whole month to dry. According to Luule, one of the founders of Nurme, it is not possible to speed up this process. It has been suggested to dry them in the sauna, but the soap becomes soft there. So you have to wait patiently when the ventilation does its job and the soap is ready for packaging and distribution. Good to know – the longer the soap dries, the harder it becomes and the longer it lasts. When dry, the pH of the soap also drops and becomes skin-friendly. So you can always buy soap in larger quantities and in stock, because over time its properties only get better.
Once the soap is dry, you can start packaging it. Part of each finished soap batch goes to the soap boxes, then to the storage shelf and then to the store. However, some soaps are left unpacked and it is possible to order 4-packs of soaps in our e-shop without packaging. This means more product at a better price and lower packaging costs.
There is no soap without soapstone
Luule is often asked what soapstone is or why it is needed to make soap? It turns out that it is not possible to make soap without soapstone, otherwise it would only result in a soft mixture of fats. An alternative would be hardwood ash, but its use is time-consuming, requires a large amount of raw material, and the properties of the mixture can vary greatly from batch to batch.
Therefore, the only option is soapstone, which is sodium hydroxide or alkali, which, when cooked with fat, forms soap. “Caustic soda disappears with this chemical reaction, which is why it is not included in the list of ingredients. Luule cites another vital example for comparison: “If beer is fermented with yeast, the yeast also disappears, but this causes a reaction that results in beer. The same is true with caustic soda and soap,” explains that due to the chemical compound, a reaction takes place which results in soap, but there is no trace of soapstone in the final product (or soap) itself. Luule adds that soapstone is not mentioned in the list of ingredients of Nurme soaps, but according to the new norms, in the future, it must be indicated on the label that it has been used in the production of soap.
Initially, caustic soda is in the form of granules, which are dissolved in water. It is made in front of respirators because the vapors released as a chemical reaction are unpleasant. It must be remembered that the pellets are added to the water in the container and not the other way around, otherwise, a volcanic eruption will result. The temperature of the resulting solution reaches 90 degrees, so it must be done a few days in advance for the liquid to cool.
The Soap Bible has been a guide since the beginning
Luule also says that a book called the Soap Bible was used to create the recipes. It says exactly how many and what ingredients are needed to make the soap to success. The Soap Bible also contains recommendations for what percentage must be unsaponifiable for the soap to be moisturizing and skin-friendly – Nurme has 15 percent.
There is also a soap calculator to calculate the quantities, and according to Luule, you can adjust which soap you want – for example, either softer or harder. “If someone makes soap at home, the amount of water may be less, but we put more so that the soap can be cut the next day,” Luule describes. In particular, the calculator must be used to keep track of the amount of essential oils that are currently in the mixture. So that the smell is not too intense and does not irritate the skin.
Luule adds that it is possible to make soaps with all kinds of aromas in terms of scents, but Nurme’s desire and goal is also to offer products with a functional effect that would provide relief from skin problems. It is for these reasons that popular functional soaps have been made – exfoliating foot soap, deep cleansing charcoal soap or shaving soap for women. Of course, the effect of aromas on overall well-being cannot be underestimated either, because the very idea of foamy lemongrass soap brings a smile to your mouth.