Wholesale Handmade Soap or Sell it yourself?

How to Sell Homemade Soap

Soap Price – finding the right price

When learning how to sell homemade soap the right price is key.

First you will want to find out how much each bar or soap costs to make, this will help to determine what you can wholesale your soap for as well as selling it retail.

A few years ago I took the time to figure out how much each one of my ingredients cost were per gram and ounce. This was a tedious project, but it gave me a real clear idea of how much it cost to make my soap.

This helped to determine how much I needed to charge my customers, although with soap you can only charge what the market determines. In our area soap sells for between $5.00 to $7.00 a bar. It’s important to see what soap is selling for in your area and remember you can always raise your prices, but dropping them doesn’t always look good.

Running your own business

I was at a big craft event this last weekend, I’ve done this one for 15 years and it’s one of my best. I try to keep my soap prices as low as I can so people can benefit from the qualities of handmade soap without going broke.

My bars sell for $5.75 – $6.75 depending on what it is. There was a new soap vendor at this event selling her soap for $8.00 a bar. The bars were smaller than mine and at the end of the event, she was packing most of it up and taking it home with her. So be careful not to out price yourself.

Calculating the Cost of Goods

Using Recipe #1 here is a calculation of what a bar of soap costs to make

  • 1800 Grams Olive Oil x .007 = $12.60
  • 450 Grams Coconut Oil x .006 = $2.70
  • 300 Grams Palm Kernal Oil x .006 = $1.80
  • 250 Grams Palm Oil x .006 = $1.50
  • 250 Grams Grapeseed Oil x .02 = $5.00
  • 420 Grams Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) x .009 = $3.78
  • 4.5 Cups Water $2.50

Total Cost to make before scent or color for 30 bars is $29.88 or $1.00 a bar.

Now depending on how much scent you would like to use and the cost that bar will go up. In a bar of Lavender soap I would add between 2 – 3 ounces of lavender essential oils. So the cost of approximately 3 ounces of Lavender Essential oil would be $23.00 if you are using mica’s for color adding a dollar should be sufficient. $53.88 per batch.

So using these figures a 30 bar batch of lavender soap would cost about $1.80 a bar. This price does not include the time it took to make the soap or the overhead cost of rent, electricity, wages etc., because I make my soap at home and I don’t’ want to out price myself so I add a flat rate of $30.00 a batch. Rounding off would round this off to $85.00 per batch making my cost approximately $2.83 a bar. Now I double that price and my bar should sell for $5.66 so $5.75.

Tips on how to keep your costs down

Order your supplies once or twice a year by doing this you save on:

  • shipping costs – only paying on two orders
  • ordering bulk – often the more you order the cheaper the item
  • order when sales are one. Soap suppliers often have semi-yearly sales

Order your Olive oil from a wholesale food distributor by the pallet is far cheaper than ordering 3kg tins from the soap supply store.

Coconut and Palm oil may also be purchased from food suppliers.

Check your pricing and shop around.

Selling Consignment Shops

In the early years of making soap I was often approached by people wanting to sell my soap in their shops on consignment.

I have over the years sold in all kinds of shops, hairdressers, furniture stores, gift shops, heritage sites, coffee shops, beer breweries, art studio’s and galleries. At the present time I only have one consignment shop left and soon will eliminate that one as well. The reasons being:

Some shops that have your soap on consignment are in no hurry to sell it. It looks nice and fills a shelf for them, they don’t lose anything by having it there. They just take the 30 or 40 percent when bar sells.

In all the years I have had a few shops that were really good, but I’ve had some real bad ones.

The one I have left now, they will e-mail and say they need more soap, when I ask what scents I will get an e-mail back saying “oh I don’t know, why don’t you look when you are in town” Now in town is a 60-minute drive for me and when you are taking 40% commission I’m thinking you can do a count…… Well I took the drive in and was shocked to see the soap had been moved to a corner and all the soap was sticky because of the two windows on each side of the corner leaving them in direct sunlight for lord knows how long. Sitting in direct sunlight for a month or so and sweating like crazy and no one noticed this? (My invoice has in bold printed on the top To preserve the color and quality of the soaps keep out of heat and direct sun. Thank you!”

So a very big FYI when they don’t own the soap, they really don’t worry about it too much. They don’t keep track of what sells or what doesn’t sell. I even supply the shelf for the soap to sit on and in some cases when stopping by to check on things have found other items on the shelf and the soap sitting in the back.

Two Consignment stores I had been absolutely awesome doing inventory, tracking what sold, making sure everything was displayed nicely, unfortunately they both sold the business’s.

So be very careful if you plan on doing consignment that you know and have checked out the establishment well before putting your soap in with them, make sure they know how to care for it and are going to look after it.

Wholesale Handmade Soap Bars

Do you have a minimum order for wholesale?

I have never really set a minimum order for wholesale as generally the orders are always more than 36 bars. This would be up to you. I know some soap makers will put a minimum of $100 or 50 bars, but it’s up to you what you feel is best.

Accepting Payment

My wholesale orders are not done on a website, most just through e-mail so I am often paid by e-mail transfer, PayPal or cheque, so once again it is what would work best for you and your business. If you are selling wholesale mostly on-line you may want to accept Visa or MasterCard as well.

Accepting terms net 10 or net 30 is up to you as well. I generally get paid within a few days of the product being delivered if not that day.

Do you have a return policy?

This is important! Make your return policy before you wholesale. It should contain things like:

    • Your responsibilities – timely delivery of order
    • How to deal with damaged product
    • Customers responsibilities – keeping soap out of direct sunlight etc
    • Payment terms

A wholesale Catalog

A wholesale catalog can be very helpful. I have one done up in an excel spreadsheet, when I ship my orders I’m sure to put one in the order. If there are any new products I put a note in and often the customer uses that sheet when re-ordering.

How to Price your Products

Wholesale Price

When determining a wholesale price it’s good to have a look at what other soaps are selling for and more than likely the wholesale price is going to be half. If you charge $4.00 a bar wholesale and the customer can get it from someone else for $2.50 chances are they will buy it elsewhere.

You obviously want to make money selling soap. If we take the example about where the Lavender soap costs is about $2.80 a bar then if it were to sell wholesale for $3.90 you are only making $1.10 a bar. The key is to get costs down, the price of the Lavender Essential Oil could probably be reduced if it is ordered in bulk. I did a quick check on one of my suppliers (a little expensive with essential oils) A 17 ounce bottle of Lavender Essential Oil would sell for $78.00 so 3 ounces would be $13.86 rather than $23.00 – this would bring the price of a bar down to $2.50.

Another supplier offers Lavender Essential oil in 35 ounce bottles for $98.08. Buying this would bring the price for 3 ounces down to $8.40 – which would reduce the cost to $2.35 a bar. So you see, by buying bulk and shopping around you can really reduce your cost.


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19 Responses to Wholesale Handmade Soap or Sell it yourself?

  1. Strahinja says:

    Hello there. I have a very sensitive skin and most of the famous soap products gave me rash and strong reaction on my skin. That is why I am ready to create my own soap with natural ingridients and from one of your recipes.

    Judging by your calculation it is really affordable to make your own natural soap. I would also skip adding the scent and color. This is not something so important to me, and it would cost me less.

    I will take your advice on this one and give my first try.

    Thank you for this great review.


    • Tes says:

      Hi, that’s how I started.  My skin was so sensitive and so I began making my own soap and skin care products.  Your right you really don’t need any fancy scent or color, so in that case the soap would be very inexpensive to make.  Enjoy your soapmaking!

  2. travis says:

    It seems to me that making soap is becoming popular. I have a cousin that makes her own soap. From what you have said it looks like someone could make some decent money making and selling soap.

    The consignment shops around here don’t keep track of anything and to get the good spots cost a lot of money. You have some really good tips on the return policy and wholesale catalog. I will definitely be telling my cousin about this article. 

    How would someone find the best place to buy ingredients for the soap?

  3. pmbaluka2016 says:

    You really challenge me when you explain the details of manufacturing your own soap. That makes you a very brilliant person indeed. I also feel the pain seeing your hard work, the soap being misplaced and going to waste. I’m sure you feel like rebuking somebody. 

    Now my question is why can’t you sell your soap on Amazon? This would expose your products to more clients worldwide and you won’t have this problem running up and down to confirm if it’s finished in that shop or not.

    • Tes says:

      That is a good idea, my son has been after me to sell on Amazon for a while now, I was just not sure how much I wanted to make.  I do enjoy doing these Christmas Markets and selling wholesale to a few local stores, but I may just look further into selling through Amazon.  Thanks

  4. Olonisakin Kehinde says:

    Good to know that you are making your homemade bar soap. i love your pricing policy. for real in any sale, it is not good to out price otherwise you will end up not selling anything or you will have a low patronage.

    There is need to have adequate calculation of cost of production before fixing selling prices.

  5. Daniella says:

    Hi there,

    A handy article, I found the reading fascinating!

    I love soaps and one of my dreams is to learn how to make soap. I don’t know if want to make a business out of it, but it could be a nice project in the future:) Anyway, it’s always good to know the cost and how it works. What really scares me though is the policy and returns. Anyway, I have bookmarked your website so I can learn about this further. Just a question, please. Do you know where I can find soap recipes? I really want to try at home:)

    Thank you for this excellent post!

  6. Loes says:

    I read it´s not that easy to create your own product and put it out on the market. How unconsidered of that shop owner to let your soap bars melt in the sun. Thank you for the 4 recipes to make handmade soap bars, very nice. I am always in the mood to try out something new. I found also your article about, can grey hair be reserved, interesting! I will try out coconut oil to do something about the fuzziness and and fluffyness.


    • Tes says:

      Thanks for stopping by Loes, I’m glad you were able to find some other articles you enjoyed.  Please let us know if you make that soap and how it turns out.

  7. Ali says:

    Hi thanks for being so informative and generous sharing such great useful tips and knowledge. I haven’t considered making soap before but we have some great craft fairs in my local area and your in depth knowledge in this area, now makes it something I would seriously consider trying as a business venture. Could you tell me what you find to be one of your best sellers? As it may be good to use for my first sample. Thank you Ali

    • Tes says:

      Hello Ali, I guess Lavender is and seems to always be one of the best sellers. Also Dead Sea Mud Soap here is a link to that recipe Dead Sea Mud Soap Recipe

      Saying that it is funny how one scent will be so popular one year and then not the next. Last year I couldn’t make enough Grapefruit scented soap and this year I made more and sold way less. So as to best sellers Lavender seems to have remained a steady, but the rest seem to change from year to year.

  8. Vanna Denham says:

    I really like your post on Making Soap Naturally.  I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to try making homemade soaps.  Your article is very timely because I might try making some and use for Christmas gifts. That is only if it turns out good. 

    There is one member of my family who would love to have the supplies and recipes as a gift for herself.  So the article is two-fold.  It gives information and resources and locations to buy supplies.  You also gave us ideas how to sell them and protect our investment.

    One big concern I would have is putting too much fragrance in it.  I love the smell of all the natural fruits and herbs and spices in hand made soaps.  I’d be like a child in a candy shop.

    Thank you for taking the time to post this information.

    I wish you much success.

    Please remember to encourage someone today!Vanna Pearl

    • Tes says:

      Hi Vanna, I agree with the too much scent.  I often use 2 ounces of scent per batch, because I do not like overpowering scents, but some people do like strong scents, so you have to play around and find what is the happy medium I guess, and also some scents are naturally stronger than others.  

      You can never please them all.  I have had customers tell me they can hardly smell the scent of a bar and then another will pick up the same bar and say it’s too strong.  Everyone is different.

  9. Clare says:

    I have purchased and used homemade soaps from local makers, and I normally prefer them to the mass market soaps. I had never really put much thought into how much work goes into not only making soaps but pricing them as well. As a fellow crafter, I know how hard it can be to try and figure out how to price your items to sell, without underselling yourself.  I found this to be a clear and helpful guide, not only for those trying to figure out pricing but also for those purchasing homemade soaps. 

    • Tes says:

      Thanks for the comment Clare.  It really can be hard to figure pricing out sometimes, but it’s an important part of business if we want to make some money. 

  10. Alexander says:

    Buying in bulk seems to be the only way to get costs down, but then you are on the hook for a larger initial investment. My mom has mentioned making soaps but she wants to use stuff from her garden which really needs to mature before being plentiful enough to scent soaps, but may be another great way to keep costs low.

    • Tes says:

      Hi Alexander, yes growing your own herbs is a great way to cut the costs for sure.  They can be a great addition in soap or sprinkled on the top for a nice look.

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