Q&A

Answers faster than carrier pigeon (and 10X faster than Internet Explorer!)

General Store Questions

Why "Alchemist of Avalon"? 

Where are you located?

Where do you sell?

Can you come to my Renaissance Festival/Convention/Craft Fair?

Why are products available based on release schedules?

Soap Material Questions

What is your soap made of?

Isn't lye dangerous?

What is "superfatting"?

What does “Cold Process” mean?

What preservatives do you use?

Why does soap have a cure time?

What are "embeds"?

How long can soap keep?

Sustainability and Suppliers

How long can soap keep?

What do you mean by "sustainable" palm oil?

Why are there so many bunnies?

Who are your suppliers?

Shipping and Processing Questions

What are your shipping and processing times?

What carriers can I choose?

Are there delays due to COVID?

Order Issues and Return Policy

What is the refund policy?

My order was damaged in transit! What can I do?

My order never arrived! What can I do?

My soap bar doesn't look exactly like the picture - why?

Can I return my items?

Custom Orders

Do you do custom orders?

How do I pay for custom orders?

What happens if my custom order doesn’t arrive at the time specified?

How long will it take to create and ship custom orders?

What is the minimum order quantity on a custom order?

How do I submit a custom order?

Can you do custom monogram stamps in soap?

Can I get soap made to look like <Insert idea here>?

Can I test my custom order fragrances ahead of time?

Why is there a custom order fee?

Other Questions

The shop is closed right now. Why is the shop closed?

I tried to order my favorite soap and it is gone! Where did it go?

Why are there strange symbols on your packaging materials?

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

General Store Questions

Why "Alchemist of Avalon"?

Let's get the introductions out of the way! You can find more about our business name on the "About Us" page here.

Where are you located?

We are located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Where do you sell?

We sell to the US. We are open to shipping to Canada but please contact us for Canada orders as taxes can take some prep work on our end.

We are open to attending craft fairs and vendor halls for events, especially in the Southeast USA.

Can you come to my Renaissance Festival/Convention/Craft Fair?

It’s possible! We built Alchemist of Avalon with conventions in mind. Ask the vendor managers first – They will usually have a contact method on the event website. Then link us together so we can talk!

If you are a manager for the event and would like Alchemist of Avalon at your venue, you can contact us via our contact form (link at the bottom of the page) to discuss.

Why are products available based on release schedules?

Our soaps are released in batches because we are a small business, and cure times for most soaps take several weeks. We also make different soaps throughout the year. Having a constant inventory is rare for a small business soapmaker because of the amount of time/space/staff involved. Instead, we target batches based on release dates and seasons to keep our customers engaged. 

Soap Material Questions

What is your soap made of?

Our lye soaps are made with sustainable organic palm oil, sustainable palm shortening, organic olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, lye, fragrance or essential oils, rosemary oleoresin extract (a natural antioxidant in rosemary that keeps oils fresh) and mica or oxide pigments (colorants). Embedded soaps will have additional ingredients.

We also have a line of plant-based glycerin soaps, used for particularly complex designs (ex. dragon heads).

 We also sometimes offer a line of soaps with plant-based and clay-based colorants, like kaolin clay and spinach powder.

Some soaps will contain other oils and butters; be sure to check the ingredients if you have sensitivities to certain ingredients.

Other ingredients in our lineup include:

  • Eco-glitter, a sparkling material that is biodegradable
  • Goat milk powder
  • Oatmeal/Oat Protein
  • Activated Charcoal

In our embeds you will find:

  • Various oils (Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil)
  • Lye
  • Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that promotes lather
  • Propylene Glycol, a commonly found substance used to attract water
  • Sorbitan Oleate, a sugar alcohol + Oleic Acid (means “Derived from Olive Oil” but can be other plant oils too)
  • Glycerin, a plant-based substance that makes up the bulk of the soap embeds.
  • Oat protein
  • Titanium Dioxide, which gives soap its white color
  • Mica or oxide colorants

Isn't lye dangerous?

Lye by itself is a highly reactive substance. You may recognize it for its industrial purposes, but you can find it combined in many materials you use every day, including lotions, toothpaste, food pickling, and even some bread products. You might see it on the label as "sodium hydroxide."

Lye has been used in soap for centuries. Historically lye was made by soaking wood ashes in water for long periods of time. The resulting liquid would be mixed with tallow (animal fat) with varying results. Fortunately for soapmaking, we now have access to pure lye and oils, which enable us to measure exactly the lye-to-oil content of a particular soap to achieve desired results. When made correctly, a lye soap is non-reactive like any other soap.

The contents of our soaps are carefully weighed and measured. We also follow a method called "superfatting" the soap, which takes a certain percentage of lye out of the equation.

What is "superfatting"?

Good lye soapmakers should superfat their soaps. When asked, a soapmaker should be able to tell you the percent superfat for an individual soap.

Superfatting leaves a small percentage of the oil, usually between 3% and 7%, uncombined with lye. This is good for you as a customer because those remaining oils stay as oil and don't become soap. Those oils are good for your skin. 

Superfatting also uses a little less lye than 100% saponification, so there isn't any "extra" lye in the soap; whatever lye is present in the soap is combined in the soap-making process and becomes non-reactive. 

Our soaps are typically superfatted at 5% but will be specified on our product pages if otherwise.

What does “Cold Process” mean?

Cold process is a way of making soap. The soap oils are combined with a water-lye solution in a specified ratio and are left “cold” to cure and dry over time. This is in contrast to hot-process soap, which reduces cure times with an external heat source.

We offer cold process soap (soap bars) and soaps created with a different kind of soap, melt and pour (complex shapes).

What preservatives do you use?

Our cold process soap uses Rosemary Oleoresin Extract (ROE) as an antioxidant, which is a derivative from the rosemary plant. ROE prevents oxidation of the oils in soap so that they don’t go rancid.  ROE is a little more expensive than other products, but we wanted to use the natural alternative.

Why does soap have a cure time?  

Soap has a lot of water in it when it is created. Letting soaps sit for several weeks ensures that soap bars are harder. These bars last longer, and the cure period gives the lye time to settle down.

What are "embeds"?

Embeds are pieces of soap “embedded” in another soap. You can see embeds on many of our soaps as toppers or designs inside the soap bar itself. Most of our embeds are made from a different kind of soap.

How long can soap keep?

1.5 to 2 years from the purchase date, sometimes longer.

Sustainability and Suppliers

What are your sustainability efforts to date? 

  • We use RSPO-certified sustainable palm products.
  • Our filler material for our boxes is made of compostable wood excelsior or paper shreds, not packing peanuts.
  • Our boxes and shrink wrap film are recyclable.
  • We discourage soap waste by using the excess from our large batches in other soap molds.
  • Unused melt and pour soaps are reused in other soaps.
  • Our Save the Bees event every Spring donates a percentage of proceeds to a related organization.

What do you mean by "sustainable" palm oil?

According to a 2017 report by the European Parliament, palm oil production is the third largest agricultural crop responsible for deforestation in the world. 8% of the deforestation attributed to agricultural crops is due to palm oil, which amounts to 5.6 million hectares - not a small number. Palm oil producers tend to use a "razed earth" approach that involves burning down large swaths of forest to build short-term farms.

We are committed to using only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The RSPO ensures that palm oil suppliers under its umbrella use environmentally friendly practices that do not contribute to deforestation, avoid the razed earth method of farming, and follow manufacturing protocols. They also ensure that their supplier farms are not using child or slave labor.

Why are there so many bunnies? 

Bunnies, bunnies everywhere! You will see a lot of bunnies and other molded soaps on our site in different scents and colors. Aside from being Monty Python fans, we chose the bunny molds because they’re great for times when we have extra soap batter. The bunnies are a part of an effort to reduce waste. Availability is therefore dependent on what batches had extra soap.

Who are your suppliers?

Not all of our materials originate in the US because they do not grow in abundance in the states. However, we make a point to purchase the vast majority of our materials from US businesses. This ensures that our enterprise supports American business and follows American regulations on purity, importation, and safety.

We also try to buy from woman-owned and small, family owned businesses whenever possible.

Our suppliers are located in:

Hiram, Georgia

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Lee, Florida

Des Plains, Illinois

Aurora, Ohio

Independence, Ohio

Dover, Delaware

Burbank, California

 Bellingham, Washington

Darrington, Washington

Shipping and Processing Questions

What are your shipping and processing times?

Orders typically ship in 2-3 days. Once shipped, the shipping speed is dependent on your shipping choices and distance from our location.

Also note that carriers will experience delays around holidays – be sure to order early so that your items make it on time.

What carriers can I choose?

UPS and USPS rates are available to the contiguous United States. We also offer flat rate USPS pricing and flat rate UPS pricing for certain package weights.

Alaska and Hawaii are offered flat rate pricing through the USPS. 

Please contact us via our contact us form if you need to order soaps greater than 30 bars. We can come up with a flat rate solution.

Are there delays due to COVID?

Not on our end – but you will see delays with different carriers due to the increase in everyone ordering online. Order early to avoid shipping delays, especially around holidays.

Order Issues and Return Policy

What is the refund policy?

You can find our refund policy at the bottom of our website under “Refund Policy.”

My order was damaged in transit! What can I do?

Do NOT open the box. Contact us via the contact form. Include your order number in the subject line and tell us what happened. We will direct you to an email address to send pictures of the damage and will assess if the item is eligible for a refund. Note: you must send the image to us within 7 days of receipt of the package.

My order never arrived! What can I do?

First, determine where the order is based on the carrier’s tracking information. Is it showing an exception or has it simply not been delivered yet? Carriers often run late. If there are no exceptions, wait three business days. Carriers have delays, especially around the holidays.

If your package still hasn’t shown up three business days after the scheduled delivery date, contact us via our contact form to discuss. Please include your order number and tracking number.

My soap bar doesn't look exactly like the picture - why?

Handmade soap has natural variations in pattern – no two bars are alike. If you believe your soap does not meet the specifications portrayed on the product description, please contact us via our contact form.

Can I return my items? 

There are cases where a return may be applicable. Please consult our refund policy and contact us via our contact form.

Do you do custom orders?

Yes, we do! See our custom order page for more details (link at the top of the page).

How do I pay for custom orders?

We handle those transactions manually. You will need to pay for the soap upfront since we will have to order new materials.

What happens if my custom order doesn’t arrive at the time specified?

Whatever date you included in the custom order form is the date that we will target for delivery. If the package is severely damaged or late by more than 10 days, we will refund the cost of the order. If the delivery confirmation from the carrier does not come by that date, we will refund you the amount paid for the soap, shipping, and tax.

However, if the loss is due to a required signature on delivery at your request and you do not answer the door (usually 2-3 attempts), or failure to pick up because it was directed to a pickup location and you did not follow through, you will be liable.

How long will it take to create and ship custom orders?

You need to give at least 3 months lead time on bar soaps for ordering supplies, cure time, and shipping. On non-bar soaps, the lead time is lower. Please see our custom order page for more details.

What is the minimum order quantity on a custom order?

10 1-inch bars is the minimum order quantity on bar soaps (we do not have smaller molds). For non-bar molds (ex. dragon heads), the quantity is lower. See our custom order page for more details.

How do I submit a custom order?

Please see the contact form on our Custom Order page. You can find a link at the top of  the page.

Can you do custom monogram stamps in soap?

We can! You will need to add two weeks to the lead time so that we can get the stamp approved and ordered.

Can I get soap made to look like <Insert idea here>?

Maybe – it depends on how complex that idea is and if molds are available for what you want. Contact us through the custom order form on our custom order page for more details. Serious inquiries only please.

Can I test my custom order fragrances ahead of time?

We can send you an envelope with trial scents on cotton pads for the cost of shipping. 

Why is there a custom order fee?

The custom order fee exists because it takes time for us to research your request, price and order materials, and come up with a quote. This takes time away from the business that could have been spent on other things.  It is applied on all custom orders over 10 bars and is non-refundable.

Other Questions

The shop is closed right now. Why is the shop closed?

Sometimes we go on vacation. If we are on vacation hold, we will put a note to that effect in the banner on the website. If something on the site isn’t working and you do not see a vacation notice, please let us know via our contact form.

I tried to order my favorite soap and it is gone! Where did it go?

Soaps are seasonal or one-time offerings depending on popularity. We put soap on the website according to release schedules; once soaps are sold out, they are gone. We change them up to keep things exciting for our customers.  Depending on demand for each release, we may sell out until the next release.

Sometimes we will remake a popular soap, but it is not guaranteed. Alternatively, if you really like a particular soap, you can place a custom order. Note that minimum order quantities and cure times will apply.

It is also worth noting that our fragrance suppliers retire fragrances occasionally. If a fragrance changes in a new iteration of a soap, then this is probably the reason. 

Why are there strange symbols on your packaging materials? 

Hmm, that is interesting. I wonder if they mean something.

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

24 miles an hour, apparently