National Shrinkwrap Review
Indulge me a short anecdote. Recently, I was selling my soaps at a local outdoor market when a customer handed me a bar of soap. As I began to ring her up, she said, “I’d like this one, but only if you have a clean bar.”
I did not know what she was talking about until I took a good look at the soap, which was covered in a fine layer of yellow pine pollen. The day was windy and blew pollen from the trees, covering the display table with a fine layer of yellow dust. It was on the lotion bars, bath bombs, lip balms, and soap. Pine pollen is not harmful, but it is a nuisance, especially
when it gives the impression that my product is dirty.
Normally, I prefer environmentally conscious packaging. I use a simple paper wrap with a label in the store and prefer to sell naked soap at outdoor markets. Customers are attracted to my products by the smell and colors, so it is important to showcase these qualities. As a result, I was hesitant to wrap
the soap in anything more than minimal packaging, but clean product is more important than aesthetic desires.
After scrounging the internet for a solution, I discovered the New Jersey based company, National Shrinkwrap, and purchased one of the systems they sell. National Shrinkwrap manufactures and sells wand-based shrink wrap systems in 14”, 18”, 24” and 30” sized systems. They also offer a variety of shrinkwrap types, suitable for innumerable purposes and industries. I chose the 18” system for $349 and upgraded to the biolefin shrinkwrap film over one of the less expensive films that ordinarily come with the unit. Biolefin is a food grade, biodegradable shrinkwrap film that is gas permeable, which means my customers can smell the aromatic soap. This upgrade was $50, but reviews from other soap makers I admire convinced me to go ahead. The system arrived within two weeks.
Note: In the spirit of transparency, National Shrinkwrap is an advertiser in Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine, but I did not know that at the time that I purchased my system. They did not ask me to write this review of their system.
Now, back to the topic at hand.
The system is a simple machine. A set of rollers, a wand, heat gun, a piece of carpet padding, silicone work mat, instructional DVD, and user manual come with each purchase. 
Set up was extremely simple and intuitive. The roll of film sits between the two rollers. The roll is doubled over on itself, so the front bar of the roller system slips in between the two halves of film, acting as a static bar to keep the layers of shrinkwrap film separated. 
Using the heat wand to cut the film and prepackage items for shrinking is easy. Steady, even pressure along the center of the wand creates a simple seam that allows excess film to pull away effortlessly. In real time, it is a quick process. 
Preparing soap for shrinkwrapping is about as easy breathing. The 18” system I purchased will prepare sixteen bars at a time. Soap is lined up in rows inside the two layers of plastic  and, using the wand, the rows of soap are sealed along each edge of the soap to create little pouches. 
After the pouches are made, all that is left is to blast the bars of soap with the heat gun. National Shrinkwrap recommends heating the sides first, then the front and back. I tried it this way, as well as shrinking the front and back first and found that shrinking the sides first created a tighter shrink. I attempted the high heat setting on the heat gun first to shrink the sides, then followed up with the low heat setting on the front and back. This creates a nice tight package . Pro Tip: I found that using the high setting on the front and back is more likely to cause holes to burn in the plastic wrap, so I suggest the low setting.
After shrinkwrapping the soap, I allowed it to sit for twenty-four hours before attempting a smell test. The aromatic quality of each bar was easy to distinguish. From the cologne like qualities of frankincense and myrrh to the tart scent of fresh lemon, my nose was not disappointed by the biolefin shrinkwrap upgrade. It is worth the extra $50, as scent more than color is a soapmaker’s best advertising tool.
Curious as to how else I could employ this new tool, I experimented with possible gift ideas and label possibilities, and found that creating a small label on the computer, then cutting it out and slipping it on top of the soap allowed me to designate bars of soap as gifts, as holiday-specific presents or even as ingredient labels with the sale price.   
Wrapping three bars of soap together was easy, as well, and allowed me to create soap packages to sell.  Look at the photo of the three bars wrapped together, and notice where the high heat created a small hole in a couple of places. This allowed trapped air to escape so the wrap would shrink tightly, but with a little practice, I am certain I can avoid this in the future.
I also got creative with my soap dishes and labeled bars . I am always looking for cost-efficient ways to wrap gift bundles, and National Shrinkwrap certainly provided me with a system that can do what I want.
Whether you are looking to wrap product or to protect it as I was, this shrinkwrap system is a worthy investment. By protecting soap from dirt and wear, you protect profit. And since this system provides both a way to see and smell soaps, why would you not make this investment?
Bill McConnell is the owner of the successful brick and mortar soap store, Whole Life Soaps, in Wrighwtood, California.