By Ben Olson
People think a lot in the shower. Next time they’re sudsing up, they might consider Jennifer Wood, who has been making artisanal soaps and keeping North Idaho clean for more than 13 years with her local soap-making business Land to Bath Soap.
Wood said she first got into soap making from her mom.
As Wood tells it, in 2001, her niece landed in the hospital with a bad case of eczema. Her mother, who worked as a science teacher, set herself to the task of making a soap that wouldn’t aggravate her granddaughter’s skin.
“Enough is enough,” Wood remembered her mother saying.
Most soaps that use tallow require preservatives like formaldehyde or alcohol — both of which dry your skin.
“My mom came up with a way to make soap without preservatives, using olive oil, coconut oil and cottonseed oil,” Wood said. “She had lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus in it. She started giving bars away for Christmas; and, by the end of 2002, she was making a living doing soap.”
Wood followed in her mother’s footsteps, even transforming the childhood playhouse on the Bonner County property where her family has lived for five generations into a soap-making studio. In 2006, Land to Bath Soap started. Business took off immediately and never stopped.
“By 2008, we had literally built our home on soap,” Wood said. “It’s been one of those success stories and we’re so grateful to our customers.”
Wood estimates she makes about 14 batches of soap per day, and about three times a week. Because you get about 28 bars in a batch, that means she’s creating around 50,000 bars of soap every year. Her top-selling bars usually contain citrus, mint or lavender. She still utilizes her mother’s recipe, adding various essential oils for a wide variety of fragrances and colors.
“That’s why Sandpoint smells so good,” she said.
Land to Bath Soap products are sold at the Sandpoint Farmers’ Market in a colorful array of cakes that almost look good enough to eat (uh, don’t eat soap). For those wanting seasonal bars, or who need soap through the winter when the market isn’t open, visit landtobathsoap.com.
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