Syracuse Soapworks is a family business started to fulfill a desire to provide natural alternatives to commercially prepared body care products, while providing ourselves with meaningful livelihoods.
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In 2002, with a handful of ingredients and some homegrown equipment in our 1920’s bungalow house in the Westcott neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, we started researching and creating experimental batches. We researched what each oil could contribute or not contribute to a bar of soap, created a recipe and made our first batch. Eighteen versions later, we agreed on the recipe that we still use today.
We officially began producing soap for sale in 2003 with the intent of selling exclusively to the wholesale market. With our shoe box of soap bars and hand full of business cards, we drove around the area visiting any store we thought might take a chance on us. A few did: Seven Rays Bookstore, The Syracuse Real Food Coop, Natur Tyme and Deal & Company Florists were among some of our first customers for which we will always be grateful!
Realizing that we needed more sales if we were to make a living at this and not having a brick and mortar store to sell from, we decided to give farmer’s markets a try. In the spring of 2004 we jumped in and started at the Central New York Regional Market and the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Syracuse as well as Baldwinsville, Manlius, Auburn and Oswego Farmer’s Markets.
With an expanded customer base, it was no longer feasible to use the house and we moved to a larger space just south of Baldwinsville. Three years later needing more space, we moved to our current location in a refurbished factory building on Syracuse’s Near Westside, which houses our production and retail store.
While our batches of soap have gotten bigger, we still make each and every product from start to finish using our own recipes and the highest quality raw ingredients available.
Oils used in soap making
Don’t fall victim to scare tactics used by soap makers that use cheap filler oils. Used in the correct proportions, tropical oils provide superior cleaning and lather than filler oils such as soybean. Our soaps are made of olive oil, coconut and shea butter our blend of oils create a luxurious lather that leaves your skin feeling clean and conditioned.
Essential oils versus fragrance oils
Essential Oils are derived exclusively from plant material whereas fragrance oils are synthetically produced. Some fragrance oils can have impact on your health (allergic reactions, for example). That’s why we only use pure essential oils. Beware of soap makers who pretend they are producing natural soap when they are in fact using artificial fragrances (always ask a soap maker what is in his or her soap). The same applies to colorants. Our soaps do not contain any dye or colorants, only botanical ingredients. No swirling or sparkling soaps here!
How we make our soap
We make our soaps from scratch, meaning from start to finish, using the cold process method. We mix our vegetable oils with lye which creates soap (the chemical reaction between those components is called saponification).
After the soap is in a semi solid state, it is poured in molds and we let it harden for a few days. During that time the soaps heats up and completes its transformation. The soap is then unmolded and cut into loaves.
After the soap loaves have rested for a few days and hardened a little more, they are cut into individual bars and set on racks to dry and harden even more. We let our soaps cure for about six weeks before hand wrapping them.