Chemistry students sell soaps to faculty, community members

William Swanson, Club Reporter

Students taking Chemistry II this semester finally put the soaps they’ve been making on the market on April 22 at Seward County Community College.

Simplicity City soaps created a display to highlight not only their soaps but to help consumers see exactly what went into making the product. (Brooke Wasoski)

The soap project helps students develop research skills and also how to produce a product with a specific audience in mind.

This soap, made by Chemistry II student Brooke Wasoski, used a variety of ingredients to getting the perfect bar of soap. Wasoski used Coconut, vanilla, and olive oils along with apricot husk. (Brooke Wasoski)

“You’re looking at taking a product from inception, going through and designing it, then also research and development, testing different properties… and then getting to a point where you have something ready for the market,” chemistry instructor William Bryan said.

A team of baseball players used their knowledge from the diamond to market their Chemistry II soap project. They aptly named their soaps baseball plays and called their team “Clean Up Hitters.” (Brooke Wasoski)

One thing that is different from other projects chemistry students may take on, is that the soap project requires them to take a targeted audience’s needs into consideration which adds more focus to the project.

The students made cold process soaps —  made of various oils (like coconut, palm, or olive oil) all while using sodium hydroxide as the lye for the soap. The sodium hydroxide used does require minor calculations depending on the oils chosen.

Part of the annual contest is being able to appeal to a consumer buying soap. This team tried to grab attention with fun molds. (Brooke Wasoski)

After the soap is made, it sits for quality purposes. Then, students set up the shop and anxiously await to see how much soap they sell. The customers are faculty and community members, which are given a set amount of credits to use for soaps.

“They’ve got some community members coming in so there’s quite a variety in the shoppers,”  Bryan said. “They’re allowed ten dollars credit to shop with.”

The top-selling soap was from the team, Saints Soaps. They brought in $110 worth of credits from their soap product.

Packaging for the soaps was also a key to the annual Chemistry II contest. The Simplicity City team tried to make their soaps appear fancy with a ribbon and ingredients listed. Something similar to what a customer is used to seeing at a farmer’s market for homemade soap. (Brooke Wasoski)

Before the soaps were made available to the potential customers, Bryan conducted his own tests on the soaps, throwing out any that didn’t stand up to his tests.

A major component of this project, in particular, is the experimental part where students have to test their soaps until they seem worthy of selling, one student explained an adjustment his group had to make during the project.

“It [the soap] was a little soft so we needed to change the oil composition to make it a little harder, so we did,” Iann Hayes, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said.

This display of soaps by Brookee Wasoski features coconut and vanilla.
(Brooke Wasoski)

Another student explained how it taught his team how to work together.

“We definitely learned how to be a team and function together and I liked how we worked together on making the soaps and coming up with ideas to improve the soaps,” Melvin Le, a freshman majoring in biochemistry, said.


Each team determines what will make their soap most appealing to the public – scents, oils, and exfoliating.