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Considerations when Purchasing Scales for Soap Making

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.

Now, 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.

This blog post looks at the need for weighing scales when making soap. We'll look at why weighing scales are used, the regulations you need to be aware of, and the best weighing scales for soap making. 

Weighing scales and soap

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 weighing 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

Once a hobbyist or company looks to sell their product to the market the requirement for trade approved scales is not always realised. There are laws relating to the weight of the final packaged product, which have to be adhered to. The regulation relevant here is the ‘The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006' - 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. This states that, when buying or selling based on weight, a trade approved scale must be used.

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 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 standalone scales which can have a checkweighing 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

Why are weighing scales needed for soap making?

Let's consider each area previously mentioned:

Goods in

Weighing scales are essential for checking goods arriving - such as ingredients for making soap - because weighing can ensure the quantity of goods purchased has actually been delivered. It's likely that these will arrive in bulk - larger soap businesses may use pallet truck scales or platform scales to measure these deliveries quickly and easily.

Recipe formulation

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.

Weighing ingredients

Now you have a product it needs to be produced and prepared for market. The first stage a weighing scale is needed here is to weigh the ingredients. The size of this scale 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. 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.

Goods out

As we mentiomned earlier, in most cases it will be a requirement that trade approved scales are used for weighing finished product before it is sold and despatched. The type of scales you use here will depend on the size of your business and how much porduct you despatch in one go. It's likely ytou will need to weigh each product before it is palletised. However, larger businesses may also opt to weigh palletised goods before despatch to ensure lorries are not overloaded. In this case, pallet truck scales and platform scales are again suitable.

Other areas

Another area that may need scales is 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

We've covered many uses for weighing scales in soap making in this blog post. However, the vast majority of scales we sell for soap making are for smaller businesses - where a lower capacity, well-priced scale is the priority.

Highland Approved Soap Making Scale

The Highland Approved Soap scale is our recommended - and most popular - scale for the job in this case. It has a 5kg capacity, which is adequate for most smaller soap makers. Choose the 1002M model and it can weigh small amounts of ingredients in 0.01g increments. It features 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 cleaned after use. Plus, the Highland is available as a trade approived scale - essential when selling based on weight.

Questions and contributions

We trust this article has given you some insight as well as being informative. If you have any questions about weighing sacales in soap making please do get in touch and we will be happy to assist you in anyway we can. If you would like to contribute to this article please send us your notes and comments via our Get In Touch page.

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