Frequently Asked Questions
Can I buy your stuff in bulk and repackage? What are the minimums?
There is a $100 minimum for all wholesale orders. You can buy naked bars by the dozen, cases of 120, or larger multiples. You can purchase our liquid soaps, gel soaps and bath salts in 5 gal cubes or 50 gal drums and package them yourself. We can fill and label your liquid products with a 336 piece minimum (our scent, product and bottle). Custom runs require a 1,400 piece minimum per product, size or scent. For example if you wanted us to bottle three scents of organic castile soap in 8oz bottles, that would require a minimum run of 1,400 each or 4,200 bottles total plus or minus.
Can I send you my secret ingredients, special label, bottle or packaging materials, have you put it together for me, and send it to a location of my choosing?
Yes we can, click here to download our confidentiality agreement. Speak with one of our knowledgeable private label specialists for more information. Vermont Soap provides free label proofing to all of our co-pack customers. We are happy to help you verify that your ingredients and claims are up to date and accurate.
Can you add my scent to your bar soap, liquid soap, shower gel, bath salts, spray misters?
Yes we can. You can send us your blend, or we can mix it here. We always recommend the use of natural essential oils over artificial fragrances for skin care. Minimums for this is one batch of soap for bars, or 50 gallons of Castile or Organic Shower Gel.
Can I buy unscented bases in bulk and add my own scent/color/bottle?
Yes. Everything is available this way except the bar soaps, which need to be made from scratch at our factory in Middlebury, Vermont. More information.
I want a special shipping box. Can you do that?
Yes, but there will be an extra charge. Please call for a quote.
I need you to send this order to my distributor in California for me. Can you do that?
Yes, just supply us with the complete ship to address, zip code & phone number. (And UPS or Freight Forwarders account number if available).
What are your minimums for a custom blend?
Bar soaps are made in 200 lb batches- about 800 3.5 oz bars. Plus there will be batch seconds, as well as trimmings which make good free samples. Scenting Gels and Liquid Soaps require a 50 gallon per scent minimum purchase.
I like your soap but I want a different size.
We can make any 90 degree shape. Your soap is made from 70lb blocks that we cut down. Any square or rectangle shape can be made. We can also make “hockey puck discs” in various sizes.
Do you provide packaging?
We are not printers, nor graphic artists. We are very good soapmakers! Send us your labels or cartons (we have a network of printers and artists you can tap into), and we will do the rest. We often have various unprinted soap cartons that you can add a label to.
Will you supply the essential oils I want? Will you sign a Confidentiality Agreement?
We can do this. Click here to download our confidentiality agreement.
If I supply the essential oils do I have to tell you the exact scent blend?
Not at all. That is your proprietary information, unless the product is to be certified as organic.
Will you change the BASE formula?
We like our base formulas! They have been painstakingly developed over the past 20+ years.
OK – Yes sometimes, but the minimums are higher. Small changes are no problem, but a major formula change requires time and volume. 600 gal minimum for liquids and gels, A substantial commitment for a major bar soap base formula change. We charge a $500 experiment fee to develop a new formula.
Can you put our logo on the bar?
This is tough, using our process. It is possible to hand stamp the bar while it is still soft. It is possible to hand pour into plastic molds. Neither are very cost effective. A small brick of soap could be hand stamped. It is far easier (and cheaper) to place a logo on packaging rather than the soap itself.
Can you make a bar into different shapes (animal, flowers, stars, etc…)
If you supply the molds, we can pour them. However, the additional labor will add to the price of each bar.
What do I get out of a SCENT experiment? What if I do not like the experiment. Is the experiment fee refundable?
Custom Blends utilizing our bases require that the pre-batch experiment to be approved prior to production. There is a $100.00 experiment fee for this. This covers the cost of basic formulation experiments. We will produce bars or liquids to your scenting specifications so you’ll know exactly what the finished product will look like before we produce the full run.
How much will shipping be? What is your minimum requirement for free shipping?
Sorry, no free shipping. We ship UPS, FexEx and common carrier. Our Shipping Department will help you to get the best price for your situation.
How long will it take to receive my order?
All wholesale orders ship within 2-3 business days. For custom blends/co-pack: it depends on what you want and how much. Bar soaps require a 30 day cure time, so ordering 6 weeks in advance is recommended. Liquid and Gel bulk orders usually ship within two weeks. If we are bottling or packaging for you add an extra week to ten days.
Are you insured?
Vermont Soap is insured for product liability. If our stuff hurts someone, we are covered. You can obtain added protection for any potential harm caused by Vermont soap products by asking to be named as Additional Insured on our policy. This costs $55/year. You should always carry your own business insurance as well.
How is product liability handled under private label?
All businesses should carry their own Business Liability Insurance as part of their normal operations. Small operations might consider Crafter’s Insurance, a kind of limited liability policy for micro businesses.
Vermont Soap offers an Additionally Insured option to our customers. This service adds the customer to OUR liability insurance as additionally insured. This is NOT a substitute for actually buying a business liability policy, although Additionally Insured does add an extra level of coverage to the customer. Vermont Soap charges $55/yr for this service. Remember, our coverage guarantees the product, NOT what happens to it when it is in the customer’s care and keeping. Additionally we have also been told that if a customer does not have business liability insurance, the additionally insured coverage might be voided.
What is the Shelf Life of your products?
Heat, humidity, air and ultraviolet light are the enemies of all natural stuff. Store in a cool, dry place; seal master cases between restocking. Keep stock rotated and fresh. Bar soaps and sprays will last 1 year or more. Liquid soaps and gels should last 3 years or more under proper storage conditions. Various essential oils will also extend shelf life. Freezing will extend shelf life indefinitely, but is not recommended for liquid or gel products.
Will the liquid soaps look the same every time I order?
Natural products have very slight variations in color, aroma and/or texture from batch to batch. Settling and separation can and will occur. We recommend “shake lightly before use” instructions on all privately labeled bottled products. We always recommend using opaque bottles rather than transparent ones.
Why don’t handmade soaps lather like regular bars?
- There is an inverse relationship between lather and moisture. Increase moisture and you decrease lather. Handmade soaps have a lot of moisture by their nature. Lather is not their strongest point – mildness is. Castile Liquid Soaps and Gels are less moisturizing, and have more lather, than handmade bar soaps.
- Some water is harder (minerals) than others. Hard water gives poor lather. (this is part of why detergents dominate mass market)
- Soap lathers best in warm/hot water and less in cold
- Hairy people make more lather! Smooth skinned people (and more women than men) often use a loofah or bath puff to enhance lather.
- Handmade soap cured LONGER will lather better, due to the decreased moisture content. The older the bar, the better it lathers (but the scent lessens over time). Different batches will have slightly different lather qualities due to atmospheric irregularities. Soaps made during a high pressure system lather a bit better than those made in low pressure. Humidity will effect how quickly a bar cures, which effects lathering ability.
- Soaps with mud, clay, honey, or lots of chunky stuff are harder to work into a lather. Aloe vera makes a creamy, small bubbled lather. Milk proteins are similar, but with larger, looser bubbles. Citrus oils enhance lather slightly.
- Soap formulas that are high in coconut oil lather better, but the more coconut oil you use, the harsher the soap.
What are your mildest soaps?
Handmade bar soaps are the mildest form of soap that can be made. Raising their free oil content by using added cocoa, shea, mango avocado, or other vegetable butters, hemp, black seed or other light oils at 1% to 3%, will enhance the “hand lotion in soap effect”. Be sure to use extra rosemary extract to preserve free oils. Aloe vera, comfrey, milk proteins, oatmeal, beta-glucans, proteins etc. contain natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that help soothe irritated skin. Essential oils have varying degrees of astringency. Lavender tends to relax pores (better for dry skin), peppermint closes pores (oily skin), while the citrus family runs in the middle (combination skin). Our Castile LIQUID soap base is milder than the competition, but our Castile GEL base is significantly milder than the liquid version, due to the extra glycerine it contains. Our mildest bars are the Butter Bar, Oats n Aloe Unscented, and Oatmeal Lavender, in that order.
What is the pH of our soaps?
All soaps are alkaline by their nature. The higher pH of soaps discourages microbes. That is why we only need to preserve with rosemary extract (for rancidity). Handmade bar soaps are 10.01. Castile Liquids are 9.7-9.8. Castile Gels run 9.5-9.6.
Is this higher pH bad for my skin?
Not at all! It is Free Alkali, NOT the normal pH of good soap, that dries out your skin (formula and process will also effect skin dryness). Do not believe marketers who tell you skin care products must be pH neutral or acidic.
What about Organic Private Label?
It is relatively painless to take a Vermont Soap product or a custom variation of one and have it certified to organic food standards by Vermont Organic farmers (VOF). It is important to remember that the product, the label and the filler (Vermont Soap) all have to be certified. If a private label customer wants us to ship them our organic soap so they can then add their own additional ingredients and then package it themselves they certainly can. But if they want to make an organic front panel claim it should be certified organic.
There are specific labeling requirements used on certified organic products. For example the USDA requires the words “Certified by VOF” or “Certified by Vermont Organic Farmers” (or the name of your certifier) to appear below the company’s contact information. This way the consumer knows who conducted the third-party organic verification.
Nearly all certified organic soap products are considered “Made With” products; as in “Made with Organic Oils” appears on the front panel. This is considered a weak organic claim and as such we are not allowed to put a USDA seal on the package. Oil based products such as deoderants and moisturizers, honey based, and organic ethanol based products can all bear the seal. These products can be called Organic on the front panel. Confusingly, organic soap cannot be called organic soap by name. It can only be called natural soap made with organic oils or certified to organic food standards by VOF.
Our unscented bases are often used by other companies in their organic formulas. In this instance have your certifier contact us and we will take care if the rest.
Vermont Soap charges a yearly $100 per SKU charge to file and maintain your organic certificate so you don’t have to think about it . All Vermont Soap products are available to be repackaged
What is a natural mineral pigment? What is a FD&C or Lake color?
Most cosmetics are colored with FD&C colors or Lake colors (same thing only Lake colors are non FDA inspected). These are made from coal tar dyes, which in turn are made from the residue of making “coke”, the fuel that turns iron into steel. Converting coal to coke for the steel industry results in millions of pounds of coal tar residues, a major pollutant. Coal tars contain benzene and phenols – cancer causing chemicals that would not be allowed loose on the American public if coal tar colors were not “grandfathered” in, due to irregularities in the FDA regulations. Many companies label their FD&C colored children’s products as “Non-Toxic”. Some consider this disingenuous. Mineral colors offer a safer, though by no means organic alternative. These are iron oxide derivatives – relatives to rust. Mineral colors are considered much safer and somewhat more natural. We use them in a few of our natural soaps, but they are not allowed for use in Organically Certified products. High end “natural color lines” (blushes etc) are made from mineral colors as a more natural alternative. To make mineral colors, dissolve scrap iron in sulfuric acid and neutralize with Potassium Hydroxide (KOH). Add trace metals to change the resulting colors.
You will have to decide for yourself whether mineral pigments are “natural” or not, as no legal definition of natural exists to date. Certainly, they are not organic. We believe they are safer than FD&C colors. When in doubt – go with USDA Certified Organic. It is the best and safest definition of natural that we have.