Rhody Maker: South County Soapmaker Watson Wax

June 2022

Posted

Is there any nicer feeling than taking a shower after a day at the beach? How about using soap made in small batches right in South County? Watson Wax’s Sea Salt Soap is that fresh mix of organic ingredients like coconut oil, unrefined shea butter, and Mediterranean sea salt, which creates a lotion-like lather, and it’s the personal favorite of founder Shelagh Stone.

Stone started Watson Wax as a candle company, which is how it got half its name. The other half was named after her Golden Retriever, Watson. A friend recommended she try her hand at soap making, and from there, she never went back. What interests Stone the most about soap making is the experimentation it takes to produce the perfect bar. She cold processes her soap, a method that’s been around for thousands of years. It begins with combining fatty acids, like oils and butters, with sodium hydroxide, or lye, causing a chemical reaction that produces heat and makes the soap.

“I make everything in my home studio in Wakefield,” Stone says. “I love scents, so I have shelves upon shelves of fragrances and essential oils. And then shelves of the less sexy, but just as important, organic oils and butters, clays and natural colorants, that I use for soap making. And then there are the shelves of curing soap, which makes the room smell amazing. I cure my soap for at least four weeks for a more gentle, longer lasting bar. So it’s a whole lot of oil.”

To create her products, Stone blends mostly local and organic ingredients, such as honey from her sister’s beehives. One soap she’s developing includes coffee grounds from The Coffee Guy, a nearby artisan roaster, combined with cocoa butter, to exfoliate and hydrate at the same time. Her talent for blending scents from essential oils is carried over from her candle-making days. Some of her soap’s fragrances include lemonwood, a grounded and earthy blend of lemon, rosemary, cedarwood, and litsea cubeba essential oils. The poppyseeds and golden
Brazilian clay found in its namesake bar clean the dirtiest hands and provide deep exfoliation. Flannel, a scent crafted to remind you of your favorite well-worn shirt, is a blend of lavender, clary sage, sweet orange, patchouli, cedarwood, and litsea cubeba essential oils. Her bestselling soap is Peony, a popular blend of modern floral notes mixed with fresh citrus and clean musks. She also says Detox, made with activated charcoal, is a hit for those looking for a more exfoliating, clarifying soap. 

Stone recently expanded her line to include skincare products, like facial oil and lotion bars. She is also at work on a summer collection of several new ocean-themed soaps inspired by Rhode Island.

Learn more at WatsonWax.com

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