Testing, testing

The process of testing out new fragrances to add to the Foam on the Range lineup can be a bit overwhelming at times, but I love it. Obviously, I can short-circuit a lot of the tedious part – and most of the failures – by buying from great suppliers (Bramble Berry is my favorite!), who do exhaustive tests themselves to make sure the fragrance is actually compatible with the type of product I want to make. Cold-process soap is notoriously finicky about fragrances – some of them make it seize up into an unusable and very unappealing-looking mass, some turn it funny colors, some just plain don’t stick around and leave your soap smelling like nothing at all. So it’s great to start out with fragrances that have already made it through someone else’s obstacle course.

Of course, my recipes are going to be different than the ones they used them in, and I use less fragrance than most testers do, and what if the discoloration effect (if any) doesn’t work with the colors I want to use, and so on and so forth – not to mention, fragrances tend to shift a bit as soap cures, and I need to know if I’m still going to love the fragrance in its final form as well as straight out of the bottle. So I do need to do a bit of testing myself!

I’m a fan of the two-pound test batch. I have in the past made tiny four-ounce (single-bar) test batches of fragrances as a first pass, to weed out any that I knew I wasn’t going to like. But really, the look of the soap is almost as important to me as the scent, so I settled on two-pound batches as a compromise between potentially wasting materials on a soap that won’t go anywhere but also having a chance to test out “looks” for a given soap at the same time as I’m testing the fragrance.

…and, of course, if it passes my own test – smells good, looks good, no funky weirdnesses during the soaping process – I have six bars ready to go straight to market testing. And by the time those are gone, I have a good idea of what people other than me think of it, and know whether it will make the cut and get made up in larger batches and added to the lineup.

Current tests, from yesterday’s photos:

Honey Ale; no color in this one despite what I said above, because it’s likely to be a discoloring fragrance and if it turns a creamy enough tan, that’s pretty much what I want it to look like. I’m also going to make another test batch of this one including actual beer, but that didn’t get done this weekend.

This one doesn’t have a name yet. It’s green and bright; woody undertones with citrussy top notes. Also very cheerful-looking, even with that little wrinkle in the lining paper!

Ginger Lime. This one is INCREDIBLE. I hope the lime doesn’t fade as the soap cures, because it’s absolutely gorgeous.

I usually make four test batches at a time, but one of the two-pound molds was otherwise occupied this weekend, so this is what I’ve got for now. I have about 15 more fragrances to test – one of these weeks I’m going to have to do a dedicated tests-only soaping day or I’ll never get caught up!

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About Amy Young

Founder of Foam on the Range soaps. View all posts by Amy Young

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