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Underrated strategic skill: making your own organic soap

Errol Davis started making his own organic soap because he was “cheap”. Then he started giving it to friends for Christmas gifts and finally he started his own company, Metaphor Organic, with business partner Adam Bienvenu that is in keeping with their version of the good life.

“Metaphor soapmakers limit themselves to natural and, when possible, organic ingredients,” they write on their webpage, “and an entirely hand-made process that is also literally an athletic feat, as the bars are delivered by bicycle to stores within biking distance.”

Davis still believes the cheapest way to get organic soap is to make it yourself and he teaches classes to those interested in learning how. “Basic chemistry,” he explains, “soap is this fat and it rips off a chunk of the fat molecule and it makes glycerine and that sort of lonely chunk that is missing part of the fat likes to attach to the water instead so you get this molecule that the oily part attaches to dirt and the mutilated part attaches to water and therefore you have soap.”

At the San Francisco beekeeping store Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper he taught a small group how to make natural soap using beeswax, lye, and oil (with a bit of essential oil thrown in for fragrance).

The ingredients for their beeswax soap:

  • 5 ounces lye
  • 10 ounces water
  • 30 ounces oil
  • 3 ounces beeswax (This doesn’t have to be so exact because it doesn’t react with the catalyst. Beeswax is used because it smells nice, it’s anti-bacterial and it makes a nice firm bar)


  • Double boiler
  • Hand blender
  • Container for mixing the lye
  • Gloves & protective eyewear
  • Muffin tin or ice cube tray as a mold