Wearing yellow rubber gloves, Chris Clarke shuffled stainless steel pots while explaining how she makes her store's top seller.
"There's only one way to make soap, and that's to cause a chemical reaction," said Clarke, who owns Sunrise Soap Company.
The shop at 29 N. Beaver St. downtown is one of the stops along the Made in America Tours, which kicked off on Wednesday and offer guests an up-close peek at how products are made inside York County businesses and factories.
At Sunrise Soap Company, tourists saw an energetic Clarke discuss 100 soap scents, ranging from synthetic Hawaiian Punch and root beer to natural peppermint, spearmint and cinnamon.
Stirring seven ingredients, she used a hand mixer to combine the soap's fragrance and oils with sodium hydroxide and water, creating that chemical reaction.
"Right now, it looks like thin cake batter, and I want to see thicker cake batter," she said.
All that mixing comes at a price, though. "I kill two of these a year," she said of her KitchenAid hand mixer.
It takes many turns of the wrist to make a soap mixture ready to be poured into molds - many of which are silicone and actually made for ice or baked goods.
"Since I don't cook, I use them for soap molds," she said to an audience that approved with light laughter.
Once the soap is in a mold and, in some cases, swirled into a pattern, it then sits for at least 24 hours before it can be cut.
Each mold weighs 7 pounds, 10 ounces and is cut into 30 bars of soap.
During the factory tours, which end Saturday, Clarke anticipates she will demonstrate and make 350 pounds of soap, which will yield 1,300 bars.
Blackberry Vanilla and Orange Patchouli Lavender Clove are the store's top sellers. The former is fruity, and the latter has a "hippie, earthy" smell, she said.
Sunrise Soap Company also sells specialty soaps tailored to the sensitive skin of babies, and people with acne or allergies. Additionally, the shop sells gift items and other bath and body products, which are free of harsh chemicals, she said.
"The average woman uses 12 personal care items a day, exposing herself to more than 250 chemicals. With seven natural ingredients, my products eliminate a lot of those chemicals," she said.
Factory tours give Clarke an opportunity to share that scientific information, as well as the science of soap making, with a larger audience, she said.
"It brings more people into the fold, and they tell more people about us, and it rolls on like a big ball of soap," she said.
Chocolate: The tours also give guests a chance to learn how chocolate treats are made inside Wolfgang Candy Company at 50 E. Fourth St. in the city.
Tourists first lined up along Latimer Street, taking refuge under a white tent to escape the summer sun and accompanying 90-degree temperatures that swaddled the East Coast on Wednesday.
They listened as Bill Schmid, a third-generation family member and retired worker of the candy company, shared humor and Wolfgang's history.
He was born in the old Wolfgang house that is now part of the factory, he said. Though the factory has been renovated, a few wooden steps from his birthplace still remain.
"I have Wolfgang blood - part chocolate, part beer," Schmid said.
"You haven't changed a lot in years, have you?" said Linda Strickler, a tourist who grew up in York County.
"Nope. And I don't plan on it," Schmid said.
Tourists quickly learned Latimer Street was a fun road to grow up on in the 1940s, creating easy access to Codorus Creek and Friday night football games.
Now, some of Wolfgang's confections are used as fundraisers for local teams and organizations.
How those items get from melted chocolate to packaged products is what tourists were able to see this week.
Thousands of pounds of chocolate are melted down in a tempering machine that ushers it out into a smooth, creamy consistency that eventually coats pretzels in 80-degree temperatures. Those pretzels then move along a conveyor belt into 60-degree temperatures where they are set and cooled.
Many other candies are made at the factory, but the tour offered guests the opportunity to sample the chocolate-covered pretzels.
"But they don't contain any wax or paraffin, so they're going to melt out there," a tour guide said.
"I guess that means I better eat it," Strickler said.
Wallpaper: Tourists at York Wallcoverings Home Design Center saw something very different.
Seeing two wallpaper printer - one of which dates back to 1895 - is a thrill for guests, said Suzanne Jones, store manager.
The storefront opened in 1990, but the manufacturer is the largest and oldest in the United States, she said.
Guests could see the 1895 surface printing machine - one of a few left in the country.
"It gives us a competitive edge, globally," she said. "Other companies and countries can't reproduce what we're doing because they don't have the equipment."
To ensure they preserve the equipment, York Wallcoverings has bought equipment from other manufacturers, which have gone out of business, simply to stockpile replacement parts.
Being part of the factory tours gives the business a chance to create awareness that the industry is changing, Jones said.
"This isn't your grandma's wallpaper," she said. "It's more like artwork."
- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.