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Soap is a Simple Word but Soap Making Can be Complicated



We have a guest post today which is wonderful because I am busy moving house and my time is a bit stretched!

Cristy Ramos, who is a great supporter of all things natural, has written about how she makes natural soap...

Soap is a simple word but, what is involved in a bar of soap? Or to take it further, what is involved in soap-making?


Well, there are many types of soap

I’m going to make a comparison between handmade soap and commercial soap, if there is a comparison to make, because a piece of handmade soap is a unique piece that differs from bar to bar even in the same batch of soap! Isn’t that awesome?

You and only you have a unique piece of art in your hands, affordable and even better, an eco-friendly product!


Let’s begin to compare

Handmade soap is made with an alkali known as base - it could be Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) for bars of soap and or Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) for liquid soap. When the base reacts with the acids or oils (fats), it results in a chemical reaction called saponification, which produces a by-product known as glycerin.

At this point, both handmade soaps and commercial soaps are the same. While water is the most common vehicle in commercial soaps, in handmade soap other liquids can be used. These could include flattened beer (no alcohol content), strong brewed coffee, teas, hydrosols, floral water, milk (any kind), seawater and many more.


The importance of glycerin

Glycerin (a by-product of soapmaking) is retained in handmade soaps (about 10%, depending on the oils that were used). However, in commercial soaps, the glycerin content is removed and sold to the cosmetic industry - it is highly priced and highly prized. But what is glycerin? Besides being a by-product, glycerin attracts humidity to our biggest organ: the skin. There are many uses for glycerin.


Fats in soaps

Commercial soaps are primarily made with animal fats (nothing bad about that). Many handmade soaps are made with animal fats too. Animal fats are less expensive than many vegetable oils and vegetable butters.

In a commercial soap, it is difficult to control the ingredients and the quantities because of the large production.

In a handmade soap you’re buying a soap that is made with specified ingredients - there is more control about what you’re using on your skin. Many oils and/or butters are used in handmade soap. In commercial bars of soap there is a short list of oils / acids (fats) to make soap, but there are plenty of detergents.


Fragrance in soap

Commercial soaps have fragrances but these could be artificial and even cause severe allergic reactions, adverse skin conditions and more. Handmade soaps are available unscented as well as with fragrances too.

But the fragrances are usually phthalate-free and of course often feature essential oils with all their benefits. Sometimes the aroma of the essential oils is not noticeable because essential oils are volatile oils and they could evaporate over time.


Preservatives in soap

Preservatives, especially parabens are used in commercial soaps while the good news is that most of handmade soaps don’t include any type of preservatives. Others can include antioxidants, for example Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Rosemary Extract or Grapefruit Seed Extract Oil.

Remember that when you buy a commercial soap, you’re helping someone to be richer but when you buy handmade soap, you’re supporting a family and you’re getting a product that has a story to tell (each and every handmade product has such a story). Next time you have the choice between a commercial soap and a natural handmade soap, I hope you will remember this post and choose the product made with with love - the best of the best!


Featured in the soap images are "Moringa" and "Hidden Garden"