FAQ

Frequently asked questions! By frequently, we mean every damn day.

Listed in order of frequency.

--Why are so many of your products out of stock? Do you ever work? Are you out of business?!-- No, we're not out of business. We are never not working. So many of our products are out of stock because we keep a listing for just about every flavor and scent we've ever made. Since no two humans of average intelligence and sobriety could ever make 500 batches of soap, perfume, bath soak, skin cream, and lip balm all at once even without kids, and since the average batch sells out in a day, you can just go ahead and calm down about all those out of stock listings. Focus on the superhuman amount of stuff we did list this week. ;)

--Is your lip balm vegan?-- Nope, beeswax is made by bees. Bees are animals. Vegan means you can't use anything made by animals. 

--Why don't you have a soap for every perfume and vice versa?-- Because cold process soap reacts badly to so very many things. It overheats with spice, it hardens too fast with most florals, and it heats up and kills or morphs delicate notes. Perfume bottles, as you may suspect, don't launch a violent chemical reaction, and I'd prefer not to limit my creativity in that department just because soap is kind of a jerk. On the flip side, there are lots of scents that are more appropriate for that 5 minute shower than they would be as a personal fragrance, and there are lots of additives to transform a soap that wouldn't quite translate as a perfume. Nobody wants goat milk and sea salt perfume.

--Why can't I find the lavendar?-- Because it's spelled lavendEr.

--Do you sell sample perfumes?-- I used to sell sample sized vials of perfume ages ago, but due to time constraints, the surprising amount of labor involved in them, and the fact that my full sized perfumes are awfully inexpensive (come on, you wouldn't use the word "splurge" in reference to a $10 bucket of chicken at KFC, would you? I mean, not even with biscuits!), I've had to discontinue them. They won't be coming back, sorry!  

--Do you give freebies to youTube/Instagram/Facebook/blog reviewers?-- I do not, sorry! I prefer to read honest, unbiased reviews, and I bet your followers feel the same way.

--Do you make lye-free soap?-- Nope, there is absolutely no such thing as soap made without the assistance of lye or some other kind of crazy intense alkali. (Well there is, but it's called the oil cleansing method, not soap.) Anyone who tells you different is either lying, confused, or leaving out the explanation about the transformation of lye and oils into saponified oil which I'll talk about a little farther down the page. Even melt and pour soap is made with lye--it just happens to be added well before it gets to the hands of the artist. I don't make soap with fairy dust, either. I wish I did, but unfortunately fairies are just as fictional as lye-free soap.

--I'm looking for a Chapstick...-- Let me stop you right there. Chapstick, the company, sells Chapstick.  I sell Long Winter Soap Co. 

--Can I come to Damariscotta to shop?-- Well, we don't have a storefront, and most of our labeled stock is sold and awaiting shipment, and our dogs are real assholes to new people, and there will *probably* be dirty dishes in several rooms besides the kitchen. So let's just say it wouldn't be the greatest shopping experience. Or the greatest experience in general. But we do love putting faces to names, and we do have some awesome local pubs and cafes, so let us know if you're coming to town!

--What is soap?-- Soap is a surfactant (cleaning agent) that works by emulsifying surface oils with water and holding dirt in suspension. The emulsified fat is then easily rinsed away.

--How is soap made?-- All of my soaps are created using the cold process method, which, without getting too technical in my description, is done by mixing a lye (sodium hydroxide) and water solution into a mixture of oils. The sodium in the lye hooks up with the individual fatty acid molecules in the oil, creating soap!

--Lye? Isn’t that bad?-- On its own? Before being turned into soap? Yes! Very scary stuff! You should see me when I mix it, I look like one of the bad guys in E.T. But, in properly formulated soap, it disappears completely. Its very composition is changed, and the result is good clean fun.

--What's the difference between cold process and hot process?-- Basically, the difference is that at the point when cold process soapers would pour their custardy soap into a mold, hot process soapers instead cook it! This eliminates the cure time by speeding up the process of saponification (turning into soap). Both leave you with a gorgeous bar of soap, but there's a slight difference in texture, and cold process pouring makes it easier to play with swirlies. I like swirlies. :)

--What’s glycerin and where does it come from?-- When the sodium hooks up with the fatty acid molecules, the glycerin which was holding them together is released as a byproduct, usually removed by producers for use in high end bath products.It’s a humectant, which means it draws water back into your skin from the air long after you step out of your towel. I wouldn't know how to remove the glycerin if I tried, so it's still in there. It’s also produced synthetically and as a byproduct of biodiesel.

--What do the commercial producers do with all that glycerin?-- Wall, back in the day, the biggest use for it (and I think the reason why big soap production took off) was to produce nitroglycerin for making dynamite. These days though, aside from cosmetics, it’s used more for sweeteners, fillers, and thickeners in food, all kinds of pharmaceutical applications, and possibly even in making alternative fuels in the near future!

--Why should I use traditional lye soap? What’s wrong with the regular stuff from the store?-- Well, the first question’s easy, and the second gets complicated. Why use lye soap? Because you know what’s in it! The ingredients are renewable, much more easily broken down after they pass through your drains, and there are no crazy synthetic alkalis or preservatives in there. Even lye’s a naturally occurring substance, though the pure stuff we use is made in a lab. What’s wrong with the stuff from the store? Well, I’d use the old “soap” vs. “detergent” argument, but it’s not entirely accurate, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Soap and detergent are really just words with vague definitions, and they’re too easily thrown around as marketing devices. What you should really be looking at are the ingredients lists on the backs of your boxes and bottles. A lot of commercial products contain ingredients derived from the oil industry, which means not only are they non-renewable, they’re also not so great on the environment in the post-use sense. Or on you for that matter! Petroleum jelly (aka petrolatum) is one of these, as is any other petro- word. So, it’s a good idea to stay away from those. Another yucky one is sodium lauryl (or eth) sulfate, aka SLS. It’s a foaming surfactant, and it’s found in just about everything from toothpaste (even Tom’s!) to baby shampoo. It’s already a known and accepted irritant, found to penetrate skin and organs, cause children’s eyes to develop improperly and cause adult eyes to develop cataracts, but the powers that be are still debating whether or not 1,4-dioxane, something contained in SLS, is carcinogenic. The American Cancer Society denies the danger, the EPA considers it to be a probable carcinogen, and the FDA wants it gone completely. I dunno about you, but the debate alone is enough for me to freak out! Besides the base ingredients, the synthetic dyes used in the industry are just gross. Lots of people are allergic to them, and one is even being linked to autism. Awesome, right? Eesh! So please, pay attention to the labels, and if you don’t recognize something in the ingredients list, do your research before deciding to put it on your family’s skin!

--Superfat? Um, what?-- I superfat all of my batches, which means there's a little extra fat in the fat/lye ratio, which means they won't strip your skin of its moisture, just of its filth. Most of my recipes are superfatted by 5%, which means I figure out how much lye I need to react with the mix of oils I choose to make the amount of soap I want, then add an extra 5% of oil, usually shea butter.

--What does goat’s milk do, and how does it get into soap?-- Some of my soaps contain goat's milk. Milk can do great things for the skin, and it’s not just because of all that super-moisturizing milk fat. It contains every amino acid known to man, and is jam packed with vitamins, and the lactic acid in there is great for loosening dead skin cells. Goat’s milk is closer to human milk than any other milk, which is why so many moms swear by it as a drinking milk for their kids, and why so many soapers choose it over cow’s milk. Plus, it gives me an excuse to keep some of the most adorable animals on the planet! I don't use powdered or reconstituted goat's milk, only fresh and local. Pretty soon I’ll be using my very own goat’s milk, and I can’t wait! So how does it get in the soap? Well, remember when I talked about mixing lye with water back up at the top of the page? When I’m making a goat’s milk soap, I just replace half of that water with milk! It’s a little tricky to keep the temperatures low, and a little stinky at first, but well worth it when the result is some of the creamiest soap ever.

--What does curing mean, and why is it important?-- Curing is just letting the cut soap sit out in the air for a period of four to six weeks. During this time, the lye and fat reaction continues a little bit, but mostly curing is important to let the soap dry. As the water evaporates, the soap becomes hard, and this adds a great deal to its longevity in use.

--Will cold process soap melt in the mail on a crazy hot day?-- Um, no. You're thinking of melt and pour!

--How long will my soap last?-- In the shower? Depends almost entirely on you as a shower-taker. You can keep it around longer if you avoid holding it in the shower stream, and make sure you store it on a well-draining soap dish, not sitting in water. Cure time and hardness will make a big difference. The longer it cures and the harder the bar, the longer it will last. Palm oil helps a lot here! As far as shelf life goes, a bar will usually last about a year or two before the fragrance fades and the oils spoil. It's still usable soap, it just won't smell as pretty. Some fragrances fade quicker than others, like citrus oils and lavender.

--Where should I keep my soap before using it?-- Any dry, cool, well ventilated spot out of direct sunlight will work. So, don't keep it in your bathroom, even if that's where you'll be using it eventually. The humidity will melt the glycerin, which will then evaporate, and we don't want that. Also, you want as few germs to settle on it as possible, right? Ew. My favorite spot is in my undywears drawer. Cool, dry, dark, and I get sweet smelling skivvies! (No, I don't keep ALL of my soap in there, how much underwear do you think I own?)

--Some of your soap is labeled as vegan, what does that mean?-- The soaps marked "vegan" are made with no animal products whatsoever. No animal fats, no animal milk, no beeswax, and no honey. None of my soaps contain animal fats, but some of my non-vegan soaps do contain things produced by our animal friends.

--FO? EO? What are you talking about?-- FOs are synthetic (but perfectly skin-safe) fragrance blends, and EOs are natural essential oils distilled from the plants and fruits themselves. FOs tend to last a little longer, and are generally less expensive, but there's nothing like the true scent of essential oils. Why do I use fragrance oils if I'm such a hippie? Well, first of all, I wouldn't use or offer these artificial fragrances if they were in any way harmful to you, your family, or the earth. Many essential oils, contrary to popular belief, can be very irritating to the skin. Some can even aggravate lots of serious medical conditions, and the thought of this scares me to death. On top of it all, the harvest of many essential oils is having a devastating ecological effect, and I really want no part of killing off the last of the sandalwood trees in the name of smelling pretty. I'd much rather get my stink from a clean, conscious, animal-free lab. For the record, I also don't wear natural fur.

--Will handmade soap sting if it gets in my eyes?-- Sure it will. It's soap! My advice is to keep your eyes closed when washing your face. If you do happen to splash some in your eye, wash it out with plain water, and that should do the trick. 99% of the time, any temporary damage that occurs from getting cosmetics in the eye comes from all the rubbing and poking we do, not the cosmetics themselves. But yeah, soap is for external use only. No need to be cleaning the eyeballs!

--What should I do with all these little bags?-- Anything you want! I chose this packaging so they could be recycled! You could turn them inside out and fill them with lavender for a sachet, or fill them with catnip and sew them closed for a kitty toy. They're great for seed saving, too. And probably cat hats, if you're strange enough.

--WHERE ARE THE UNICORN FARTS???-- If you're here and they're not, wait a few hours! If it's sleepy time in the eastern US, you may have to wait more than a few hours. Easy there, Chief. 

--Flavor oil...what does that mean?-- They're not supposed to make the lip balm taste like anything, they're just lip-safe versions of fragrance oils.  If you ever taste anything from a lip balm, it's because it's sweetened, not flavored!  And I don't add sweetener to my balms.  If you'd really like to taste something, though, try my citrus, lavender, mint, or anise-flavored balms made with essential oils.  Like I've said in every last lip balm listing, your balm will smell a bit like cocoa and honey in addition to whatever flavor you choose because it has unrefined cocoa butter and beeswax in it. Cocoa butter and beeswax smell like cocoa and honey.  

--I'm sensitive to synthetic stuff, should I buy your fragrances?-- Fragrance oils by definition are synthetic.  Either totally synthetic or blends of synthetic and natural.  If you are sensitive to synthetic fragrance, don't assume from my kraft paper aesthetic that my fragrances won't set you off.  They are fragrances.  Say it with me.  Sensitive to fragrance?  Don't buy fragrance.  Instead shoot me a convo and ask about the natural stuff! :)