Lavender Soap

History of soap production

Soap has been around for centuries, in fact the earliest form of soap making was found to date back to 2800BC. Modern soaps differ greatly from early times and the industry really took off in the late 1800's with the introduction of perfumes.

Soap making can be found in homes, small to medium sized businesses to full scale mass industrial production. Hobbyists and small companies tend to use the ‘cold process' and ‘hot process' for the production of their soaps. These tend to produce different types of soaps than those mass produced and typically found in the supermarkets.

Weighing soaps

Weighing scales have played an important part in the production of soaps for centuries, when following recipes each ingredient has to be weighed accurately to ensure the final product is right. This would have been as important two hundred years ago as it is today, with the continuing developments in weighing technology the accuracy has significantly improved resulting in improvements in the final products.

Many hobbyists when starting out tend to use cheap kitchen scales, often purchased from retail outlets. These are mass produced and typically are found to be inaccurate, poorly made and often not fine enough. Increasingly many are turning to purchasing higher quality more accurate machines which generally provide better overall performance and often cost savings.

Medium to large companies need accurate scales for weighing ingredients, much larger processes may incorporate the weighing system into the machinery by using load cell based systems. Weighing scales would be needed for weighing the raw ingredients at goods in, to the production process, the final product and even parcel scales for the shipping departments. Other areas can also need accurate scales such as the R&D departments, quality control and more increasingly in recent years recycling.

Selling soaps - Weight and regulations

Selling Handmade Soaps

Once a hobbyist or company looks to sell their product to the market the requirement for additional scales is not always realised. There are laws relating to the weight of the final packaged product, which have to be adhered to. In particular ‘The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006' which is part of the ‘Weights and Measures Act 1985'. These UK regulations were implemented as a result of the EC Directive 75/106/EEC and 76/211/EEC.

In short these regulations relate to the ‘e' weight commonly found on packaging today. This weight indicates that the contents have been checked and contain the amount indicated within given tolerances as defined by the regulations; this is referred to as an average system. This is designed to give the consumer confidence that they are not being short measured and businesses are protected against unfair competition.

Due to these regulations companies selling pre-packed goods have to ensure that the contents are weighed and the average weight is within tolerance, this is done on weighing scales that are ‘fit for purpose' or as we call them Trade Approved Scales. There are two methods for checking the products, one is to weigh all of the goods produced and the other is to weigh samples. The second process requires detailed records to be kept by the producer but this is not the case if you check the weight of each product.

For production lines companies can opt for in-line checkweighers to check the weight of each product, some systems incorporate reject systems to remove items that are not within tolerance. Smaller production lines can use manually operated stand alone scales which can have a check-weighing function, but in both cases the scales must be trade approved.

We always recommend that individuals or companies check with their local trading standards department to verify compliance with regards to the weight and measure act, information provided here is a guide and may not apply in all cases. See our selection of trade approved weighing scales

 AZextra Price-Computing Retail Scales A&D FS-i Trade Approved Checkweighing Scales Highland Approved Portable Precision Balances
 AZextra Price-Computing Retail Scales A&D FS-i Trade Approved Checkweighing Scales Highland Approved Portable Precision Scales

What are weighing scales needed for in soap making?

Let's consider each area previously mentioned. First we will start with Goods-In; a lot of companies combine goods-in with goods-out as one department and some scales can be used for multiple functions for example ingredients arriving on pallets and goods leaving on pallets could be weighed on large pallet scales or on pallet weighing trucks. But some materials may arrive in bulk bags; these are often weighed with crane scales. Smaller shipping departments may not need large scales and often much smaller parcel type scales are introduced. So it is important to look at the requirements and ensure the correct scales are employed to do the right job. Consider the maximum weights and how fine the measurement is needed; sometimes more than one scale is needed to cover all of the requirements.

So we have checked our raw materials and we want to produce a new product that will fly off the shelves at the shops, this will take some development work and this will need scales to weigh the ingredients. Generally this kind of work will need small bench scales as small batches are likely to be produced. Even laboratory balances for more precise work, like producing expensive skin creams. Further testing may involve other devices like moisture analysers to measure moisture content in products. Analytical Balances for weighing tiny amounts. Other devices like pH meters to measure the pH balance on a mixture.

Homemade Lavender Soaps

Now you have a product it needs to be produced and prepared for market, first making it, so first scale needed is to weigh the ingredients. Size of this machine will depend on your batch sizes and equipment for making the product. So consider again what capacity will you need and how fine you need the measurement, its no good having a scale that has a capacity of 50kg and measures to 10g if one of the components needs to be measured to half a gram. Some large scale process will use load cells built into the process, maybe weighing out the ingredients or weighing them into a mixing tank, but more often than not a small local scale is still needed for those small lighter ingredients.

Other areas that may need scales are quality control for the monitoring and sampling of the products being produced, just like the R&D department they may need precise laboratory balances or moisture balances depending on the requirements for testing the products. Many soap or cosmetic based products now need to be tested and comply with many regulations, certainly very different to the 1800's when product testing was not considered.

Recycling - The Importance of Weighing Scales

Recycling, we briefly touched on this area before, in recent years this area has become more important to companies and more and more weighing scales are being used to monitor waste output, right through the factories in all departments and covers many different waste products. It has become important as waste recycling companies can pay or charge for this waste and it is important for companies to record this.

Our Recommended Scale for Soap Making

HCB - Highland Approved Portable Precision Balance

Highland Approved Portable Precision Balances

The Highland precision balance is a highly versatile weighing balance that can easily weigh small ingredients up to 0.01g increments. The HCB has percentage weighing features that will allow you to pre-prepare and mix ingredients for precise blending of soap making ingredients. A stainless steel weighing pan allows the scale to be easily cleaning after use and the compact construction of the balance means that it can be easily transported or stacked with other HCB scales. Note! The HCB approved model is required for selling soaps by weight.

Questions and Contributions

We trust this article has given you some insight as well as being informative. If you have any questions relating to this please do get in touch and we will be pleased to assist you in anyway we can. If you would like to contribute to this article please send your notes and comments via our contact us page.