Soap Making

Soap Smart - Fragrance Oils

Carrie Thornsbury 7 comments

Nurture Soap Fragrance Oils

This post will be the first in a new series of posts called Soap Smart. What is soaping smart? It is knowing the tricks and tips of shopping that will lead you to make better financial decisions regarding making handmade soap. Often soap making becomes an unexpectedly expensive undertaking when it doesn't have to be.

I know it may seem counter intuitive to think that a supplier's blog would have tips on how to save money regarding soap making, but that's exactly what's happening here. Why? I will give you a little backstory...

My Story

About 12 years ago I was going through a divorce and I wasn't in the best spirits to say the least. It was an incredibly hard and bleak time. To add to the difficulties, I was broke and living in subsidized housing putting myself through college and raising two kids on my own. I was broke. The kind of broke where your digging through your couch cushions for change broke. Broke, broke, broke.

I had heard about making soap and digging through my cabinets I found some olive and coconut oil. I found what was probably not a very good soap recipe on the internet and made soap. What I made was an ugly, colorless, scentless bar of soap, but it was beautiful to me. At that moment I experienced JOY. Real, true joy. Soap gave me hope when I needed it, and I fell head over heels in love.

I continued to make small batches of soap with whatever herbs and spices I could find in my cabinets, and even though my soap was still ugly my skills got better. I remember when I made my first straight layer in a bar of soap. I sat it on the shelf and stared at it with my hand over my heart and tears in my eyes. In my head I was shouting "I made that!" I was so proud!

Then I wanted to try more ingredients. I wanted my soaps to smell good and look good and I wanted to be able to share it with other people. Still broke but in love with making soap, I learned how to soap smart. I learned soap making doesn't have to break the bank, and you can definitely learn to save money and make spectacular soaps on a tight budget. In this post I'll give you some tips on how to shop smart for fragrance oils.

The Cost of the Same Fragrance

Did you know that several suppliers use the same fragrance oil manufacturers? Did you know that the same fragrance oils are sold at widely varying prices? At this time of writing this there are three suppliers I personally know of that are selling the exact same fragrance. We'll call them Supplier A (Nurture Soap), Supplier B, and Supplier C. The fragrance in this example is Black Raspberry Vanilla, a very popular scent.

Supplier A - Price per 16 oz - $15.75

Supplier B - Price per 16 oz - $18.00 (pretty good!)

Supplier C - Price per 16 oz - Over $28  (wait, what????)

That's right! Compared to supplier A and B you're paying over $10 more at supplier C for the exact same fragrance.

If you are like me when I first started making soap, you don't have a lot of money to spend for soap making supplies. That extra $10 is quite a bit of money. Even taking shipping costs into account with all suppliers, Supplier C was still $10 more expensive.

How Do I Know What Fragrances are the Same?

Ahhh, here's the beauty of it. With a little sleuthing you can tell what fragrances oils are the same between suppliers! Here's how:

  • Flashpoints
  • Vanilla content
  • IFRA use limits

First, compare flashpoints of similar fragrance oils. If they are the same or vary by a few degrees you may be on to something. Next, check the vanilla content. If the fragrance contains vanilla the supplier will generally tell you how much. Are they the same or very close? If so, you're probably on to something. Next, check the IFRA use limits. Are they the same or very close? If yes, it's probably the same fragrance oil!

This method of sleuthing also works in reverse. Let's say you have a hypothetical oil called Super Duper Mango Madness that you just love, but the supplier discontinued it. You found Super Duper Mango Madness at another supplier and are just hoping against hope that it's the same thing but you're not sure. Do the same things: Check the flashpoint, vanilla content, and IFRA use limits. This will give you pretty good idea if it is in fact the same fragrance or not. Don't buy the fragrance without verifying these things first! This will save you money!!!

If you're still not sure if fragrances are the same order a sample. If you plan on ordering other items from the supplier ask for a free sample! Always order samples first. This way you can tell if you like a fragrance before ordering in larger quantities.

Just to be sure that the pricing on this fragrance wasn't a fluke, I found another fragrance that Supplier B and Supplier C carry that is the same - A fruit scent.

Supplier B - Price per 16 oz - $18.00 (Good!)

Supplier C - Price per 16 oz - $26.00 (Ouch!)

The flashpoint of both fragrances is 130°

The vanilla content is 0%

Comparing the IFRA info we find that it is exactly the same for supplier B as it is for supplier C:

Category 1: 0%

Category 2: 8.33%

Category 3: 33.33% etc...

Once again, there is a huge difference in price for the exact same fragrance. From these examples we can see that it really pays to be a discerning shopper!

Save that Money, Honey!

You don't have to go broke making soap and you don't have to be broke to want to save money. Think about it this way: The more money you save when making soap, the more soap you can make and experience the JOY of making it! You can make more batches, experiment more, and share with friends and family. Eventually, you may even want to sell your soap. When you start selling, you will want to be able to source great ingredients at great prices so you can make as much money as possible selling soaps, right? When you spend too much on ingredients you are undercutting your own profits! If you are a new soap maker you'll want to learn how to save money now. If you are a seasoned soap maker selling your soaps you want to save money on ingredients so your business may thrive.

Our next post in Soap Smart will be how to formulate recipes that feel great and don't break the bank. Stay tuned!!!


  • Jennifer Dimitriu August 19, 2016 | 04:21 PM

    great information. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

  • Becca August 05, 2016 | 10:26 PM

    Hi all! I just found this blog today and I’m so happy that I did! I, too, compared fragrance oils that I was certain were identical. What I found in addition to the price difference, was that the Nurture Soap fragrance was stronger and so, had more staying power in my CP soap. I am absolutely sure that some of the well-known distributors are further diluting their fragrances! I use Nurture Soap fragrances whenever I can. I hope they come out with a coffee fragrance soon. Coffee is one of my best sellers!

  • Kathy July 05, 2016 | 11:32 PM

    Wow, never saw a post like this explaining stuff that everyone needs to know about purchasing. Really an eye opener and thank you for sharing your wisdom. Excellent post

  • Mae Ballout June 27, 2016 | 02:58 AM

    Thanks for the great post! The information will really help me to reduce ingredient cost especially for foreign customer like myself.

  • Sara June 26, 2016 | 05:02 PM

    Thank you so much for this! You just saved me some money for sure. Love you guys and what you stand for!

  • Sarah Situmeang June 26, 2016 | 03:56 AM

    Great info! I just assumed if the perfume notes match then the fo is the same.

  • Angela June 24, 2016 | 12:24 PM

    Great post! Thank you for the invaluable tips regarding saving money on fragrance oils. They are the most expensive additive in my soap making. I’m happy to save a few dollars wherever possible.

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