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Print Your Own Money: Making Soap for Barter

January 30, 2017       Cutting Edge
Make Soap for Barter
Printing your own money for off-grid
and transition towns


Various homemade soaps with fruit or vegetable
ingredients for exfoliation and herbal benefits to skin


The Yin Fire Rooster this 2017 allows us to reconsider lifestyles and choose to not be a corporate slave and live a simpler yet fuller life in an off-grid situation or by starting anew in a Transition Town where value is what you trade and not necessarily currency.

Making soap for barter is an age-old trade that still works to this day.  In fact, in the west robbers and drug dealers hijack cargo trucks carrying Tide detergent so they can use it as a form of currency for trade because you cannot trace it and it can be exchanged or converted into hard currency too in off-grid operations.  This does not mean you are a drug lord if you decide to make your own soap for barter.  Breaking Bad can be turned on its head and you can cook up tons of beauty soap bars instead to become filthy rich.

Farmers Market (Earn) & Barter Resource (Survive)


Keeping together a community that trades value starts with fair value exchange and soap inherently has value for everyone.  The measure for trading will be how much one will be willing to exchange for good quality soap.  Unlike money which really has no intrinsic value on its own in an off-grid situation because it is just a piece of paper guaranteed by your bank. 


Image Credit:  Emily Alvarez at Bath Candy Soap  (Fair use)
Homemade Soap Wares  displayed at a Farmers Market

A Transition town that uses barter as a means of exchange of goods and services may also be more fair for bartering homemade soap because value is at the heart of the exchanges that take place and not paper money currency.

Recipe Resources

There are community resources for finding soap making ideas and manufacturing processes that fit your personal preferences for markets you want to sell to.  Here is a link to the 50 best soapmaking blogs by naturesgardencandles.  Another resource is 71 of the best homemade soap recipes on homemadehomeideas.com which links to DIY recipes for specific types of home cooked soap--from lavender soap, to milk soap, to honey soap, to oatmeal soap, and herbal concoctions like cinnamon swirl soap. 


Natural ingredients make up most homemade soap recipes.

On survivalist and off-grid websites, they will also have a basic rundown on how to store and process the chemicals and essential oils you need for your soap-making operation.  Mom-and-pop operations online may have their own heirloom recipes, some of which they freely share with the web community of DIY homemade soap aficionados and beauty product enthusiasts.

Do You Want to Be a Brand?

For the marketing side of the soapmaking business--say you want a personal brand and do business selling to a market, there are online resources that teach you the basics of how branding your product--soap--should work and what particular details you should be focusing on--packaging  your products with attractive yet low-cost and readily available materials.  When you do decide to become a brand, you need to go out to trade fairs, farmers markets, offer your packages to supermarkets and small retail shops plus you need to have an online shop where you can track demand and delivery schedules and curate your product line for customers to see.  A subscription box offer for homemade soap and bath products is also a good idea to promote regular sales once you commit to being a brand business.

Cold Process or Hot Process?

There are two ways to make homemade soap:  Cold-process works off mixing chemicals and essential oils and letting the reaction heat up to form gels that harden in bar molds for up to a week.  And hot-process, where you cook a batch of the same stuff and wait until it becomes a gel that you pour into molds to cool down and harden. 


Image Credit:  Tanya Anderson of lovelygreens.com (Fair use)

The cold-process soaps come out smoother while hot-process soaps look rougher.  Hot-process soap making that is still cured for a week (allowed to sit longer in their molds) become more gentle on the skin and can be used for longer.  Cold process takes longer for the gel mix in the mold bars to harden while hot-process requires you to watch over a kettle or pot for hours checking the gel as the mixture cooks.  Hot-process may work for you if you want to churn out soap bars by the dozens.  Cold process works for those artisan designer soaps that are smoother and are favored at farmers markets.  Some soap buyers of homemade soaps may ask you how you create your products and may have a preference.

Workspace Required

Soapmaking may be as easy as using your kitchen oven for DIY to building a small laboratory in your garage that includes dedicated soap making vats and ovens for making your products, storing your chemical mixes and natural oils and essences.  You do need workspace and storage facilities to keep your volatile chemicals safe and clean. 


Image Credit:  Wild herb soap company Etsy  (fair use)
Some craft websites offer kits with chemical ingredients
for making artisan soap
.

For shaping your soap bars, you will need trays for long bars, molds for individual bars, and a curing area where you can store your soap mix to cure and harden from gel to soap bar for a week or more.  You might also want to look to scale your workspace if demand picks up and you want to go full time into soapmaking as a business.

Hobby for All Occasions

Like planting a food garden or food forest, making your own soap should be tops on the list of things you can do for off-grid resiliency as a resource for barter and as a way of making a living or extra income. Or just as a fun hobby that can eventually make you a millionaire.



Dainty designs by hobbyists that sell well in craft markets
 and farmers markets.

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