Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How To Shrink Wrap Soap in 3 Easy Steps

This tutorial shows how to shrink wrap handmade soap in 3 easy steps. The method works for Cold Process, Hot Process and Melt and Pour (aka "glycerin") soap. I’ve tried a lot of soap packaging options over the last few years but in my humid climate or the humid climates I ship to I've found that shrink wrapping works best for me to keep the soap fresh and protected. It also seals in the scent, keeps fingerprints and noses off the soap at wholesale and market locations. The soap doesn't sweat into cigar bands or paper packaging in the humidity. The packaging looks crisp and professional.

The 3 steps are:
1) Pop soap into PVC or POF bag
2) Cut and seal end of bag with an impulse sealer
3) Shrink with a heat gun. That's all there is to it. You can do it!

This tutorial shows how to shrink wrap soap in PVC or POF flat bags. PVC is a heavier gauge than POF. PVC is 100 gauge. POF is 75 gauge. I use the 4x6 bags. My soap is 3.5" wide by 2.5" tall and 1 1/16" thick.

PVC bags and POF bags can be purchased from several suppliers but I buy mine from The Shrink Wrap Store. I've had great customer service. PVC bags tend to have a bit of a crisper look and don't develop holes or tear from the heat gun quite as easily as POF because PVC has a small hole to allow air to escape when shrink wrapping. PVC can't be smelled through well. POF bags can.

POF is more pliable and if you need to replace a label it's much easier to remove one from a POF bag than PVC.  It really depends on your needs as to which bag to use. I tend to like POF for markets and craft shows because I may have to replace labels and I can do it without having to remove shrink wrap and shrink wrapping again. Being able to smell through POF at markets and shows is a plus too.

I have one of these handy impulse seal cutters purchased from Packo Inc. It's 8".

Shipping is included on orders over $50.00 at the time of this writing so no shipping charge. Important to purchase the impulse heat sealer with the trim and seal element! That's what is going to cut and seal the bag. I also recommend picking up an extra maintenenance kit for the sealer so you'll have it on hand when it's time to change the teflon strip and the wires. Packo Inc. has been a great company to work with and I appreciate their customer service.

Here's a soap from the 18 bar batch that I'm going to shrink wrap. It's cured and ready for wrapping.

Soap is popped into the PVC bag. Left side is closed end of bag. Right side is open.

I bag and then cut/seal all soap from the batch with the impulse heat sealer first. 

I’ve found that allowing the bags to cool down from being cut with the impulse heat sealer results in less possibility of holes opening in the bags when using a heat gun. So all soap is bagged and cut/sealed with an impulse heat sealer first. Lightly and quickly press bagged soap with the impulse heat sealer leaving about an inch between the soap and the open end of the bag. Move through the whole batch doing this.

Step 3 is the heat gun. A hair dryer will not work. Harbor Freight has a nice dual temp heat gun for $13.99 at the time of this writing although you may be able to find one locally for less.

I start with the first soap I bagged to allow the rest of the bags ample time to cool down from the cut and seal. I use the heat gun on a low setting. Holding the soap in one hand and the heat gun in the other, I start on the side of the bag that was not cut and sealed with the impulse heat sealer, working my way around the bar. The cut and sealed end will be the most likely to reopen so I start on the opposite end.

See the seam forming on the side of the bag? 

Keep the soap moving and don’t get too close with the heat gun as that results in open holes in or tears to the bag.  If holes ensue at any time in the process you know you're too close with the heat gun.

Keep the soap moving until the shrink wrap has shrunk, the sides have fairly even seals and the wrinkles are out. I can smooth out any wrinkles or slight bulges with my fingers and zap the bagged soap lightly with the heat gun again. I haven't timed it but I'm probably down to about 20 seconds a bar.

Then I pop a printed label on the sealed soap and it’s ready to go. Ingredients, instructions and contact info are on a rear label. All information could be put on front or rear label. Practical, professional, non-fussy, looks good but doesn't-take-forever wrapping. Cost effective too.

That's really all there is to it. How to Shrink Wrap Soap in 3 Easy Steps. With a little practice you'll be adept in no time at all!

1 comment:

Scott Thomas said...'s great steps for industry..

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