Using chemical equations outside the laboratory can make good sense, scents and, well, cents! Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College student Ethan Clayton can attest to that more than others, thanks to his chemistry instructor Tracy Moore and a new soap-making business.
Clayton, a math and science education major at the Perkinston Campus, learned a little bit about making soap in organic chemistry and, intrigued, decided it was an excellent business opportunity. Now, Clayton, a sophomore, makes smell-good soaps with names like Cucumber Melon, Sunset Rose, Watermelon and Fresh Linen. He even makes a blue-and-gold soap called Bulldog Bath, as a tribute to his soon-to-be alma mater (he’ll graduate this May).
“Last semester, I was taking trigonometry down the hall from Mrs. Moore’s organic chemistry class,” he said. “I’d drop by to see what they were doing most mornings. One day, they were making soap. I liked the idea and did research on it. I found out it is a popular hobby.”
Driven to do more than make soap as a hobby, Clayton researched the best kinds of oils and other ingredients to use in soap. “I wanted to make sure the soap I made was good for your skin. Once I figured out the proper formula, I got started. Eventually, I saw this as a way to make extra money while in school.”
Moore said she is thrilled that one of her students has taken such initiative. “Ethan is a good student and very motivated,” she said. “It is a thrill to see a student take what they learn in your classes and apply it to the real world. That’s what learning is supposed to be about – applying book knowledge to your life.”
Of course, a chemist, even a student chemist, knows that quality is important in soap making. That’s why he makes sure his soaps are of the finest quality. “These soaps are fluffier, not hard. They don’t last as long, but they are better for your skin. I make them only from oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats, which makes them ‘fluffy’ and better for you.”
His wife, Peggy, works as a skills lab manager in the Associate Degree Nursing department at the Perkinston Campus. They have two children and one on the way.