Despite there is negative growth for soap bar in Europe, soap manufacturing industry continuing improving as the Asian bar soap market is expected to grow at a very healthy rate of 5%-6% for next few years with market size of approx. 17 billion pieces of toilet bar soap of 100 g.
The bar soap manufacturing has evolved over the years from a purely cleansing product to a product that now offers multiple benefits and functionality.
Soap Manufacturing Trends
This trend is driven by:
- the need to continuously differentiate against the onslaught of liquid shower gel;
- the need to move from a mass market position to a more niche and specialised position;
- commercial reason as new soaps allow for higher pricing; and
- continuous use of innovative technology to produce new soap variants.
As a consequence, the bar soap is continuously being challenged to provide more value-added features in the area of multi-functionality.
Some clear bar soap trends are as follows:
- soaps with extracts, oils and polyols, such as honey oil, chamomile, tea tree oil, etc;
- soaps that offer personal protection and hygiene such as in the anti-bacterial domain;
- soaps that provide skin care properties such as moisturising, mildness, etc;
- soaps with a combination of mild synthetic detergents; and
- soap bars with distinctive appearance, perfume impact and release, and bar feel.
Looking at these trends, the question is how can soap noodle manufacturers provide a solution. Traditionally, this group of soap manufacturers are rather conservative in its approaches. Most of them still follow the traditional soap making process and employ the same basic raw materials.
Therefore, as soap noodles producer, we believe the soap noodles can be formulated in such a way that can help the soap manufacturing and eventually the soap marketers in meeting the multi-functional challenge.
In this respect, the challenge for soap noodle manufacture is to come up with a multi-functional soap base that:
- can be processed in a conventional finishing line without major modification;
- enhance the active ingredients effectively and hence, economically;
- provide good in-use performance;
- offer improved efficacy; and
- impart a pleasant skin feel, good perfume release and impact, and appearance.
We would like to demonstrate three types of application with a single multi-functional soap noodles,
Soap Noodles Providing Enhanced Efficacy
Of late, the trend towards anti-bacterial products seem to be gaining momentum. The bar soap is riding on this trend too. But the challenge is how the marketers can differentiate its anti-bacterial claim better than others. One of the means is by improving the efficacy of bar soap which consumers can relate to, that is better and more effective personnel protection against harmful bacteria.
In the anti-bacterial arena, the common anti-bacterial added are triclosan and TCC.
Soap Noodles Combining with Syndet
Generally, syndet or combo bars are claimed to be mild (milder than pure soap). Syndet bars were introduced in Germany for people for skin complaints; because of this medical image, these bars are sold only in pharmacies.
A syndet bar composes of synthetic detergent, and filler to function as structural and plasticiser, whereas combi bar composes of natural soap as both structural and plasticiser.
Syndet bars are found poorly suited to a conventional soap finishing line. The operating condition of syndet formula is often very tight (due to the nature of syndet) and the bars are often sticky to be plodded and stamped on a conventional line.
Development of a syndet bar with acceptable soap-like in-use properties is hindered by the physical properties of the syndet. Syndet bars tend to be very mushy with a high rate of wear compared to traditional soap bars.
Capitalizing on the benefit of syndet for its mildness and soap for its processibility and in-use properties, combination bars (combo or combi) were developed. Combo soap usually contains 10%-50% mild syndet. Currently, the mass market combo bars are mostly made by multinational companies using in situ manufacturing process (integrated syndet and soap plant).
The alternative for a normal bar soap manufacturing is to add syndet to the soap noodles in the soap finishing line. However, owing to high solubility of syndet, a high dosage of syndet in combo bars is very difficult to process on a conventional soap finishing line. Besides stickiness, adding syndet to soap often yields gritty (sandy) bars. Grits are hard soap and syndet particles in bars give an unpleasant sandy feeling during use.
Grit is often cited as a barrier in attempts to make good combo bars.
Soap Noodles with Liquid Ingredients
An effective skin care soap should normally contain a high content of liquid ingredient such as polyol and emollient oils. Therefore, the soap base used must be able to contain this high loading without impairing the processibility of the soap.
Once again, we used the multi-functional soap noodles here.
A comparative experiment was conducted to demonstrate the relative processibility of a multi-functional soap base with 12% polyol against the standard 80/20 soap base with a similar amount of polyol. Processibility is defined as a function of throughput, stamping rate and speed of reaching homogeneity.
The result showed that the process efficiency of the multi-functional soap base was about 30% above the standard 80/20 soap base.
The above only showed three aspects of application but other potential properties of the multi-functional soap noodles are distinctive appearance, good perfume release and impact, excellent skin feel and so on. These would be the other value-added benefits for the soap marketers to exploit.
In summary, by having a single soap noodles with multi-functional capability built-in, it is easier, faster and more cost effective to launch and market new variety of products that meet the bar soap trends.