why cold process soap?
May 24, 2021
a lot of people who are new to handmade, artisan soaps have asked this question a lot, including family: why handmade soaps? what are the benefits? why is it better than store-bought soaps?
as a cold-process soapmaker, i think it's important to explain the process first.
what is cold-process soapmaking?
ALL soap, including liquid soaps, require lye to be made. a chemical reaction called saponification is required in order to make soap (ever seen Fight Club?). saponification is the chemical reaction between lye and oils and fats that creates soaps. without lye, there is no soap. it is possible to create cleansers without lye, but these are used with detergents and other ingredients, and it is different from soap. detergents can actually strip natural moisture, leading to more dry, itchy skin.
after the lye and fats are mixed together and poured, the soaps must be cured for at least 4 weeks. some soaps, depending on ingredients, may take even months or a year. this leads to a harder, longer lasting bar. the soap continues to saponify, evaporating water, creating a more gentle bar of soap. if used too early, the bar may be a little more cleansing and drying. it's a time-consuming process, but extremely worth it.
to add to that, cold processed soap can also be superfatted. what this means is that extra fats can be added to the recipe. the lye does not react with the excess and you are left with more glycerin to moisturize skin.
many businesses remove the fact that lye is used in their list of ingredients because customers in general are wary of ingredients such as lye, which alone is a caustic substance. since no lye actually remains after the chemical reaction, leaving it out of the ingredients list is allowed. it is the owner's choice to do so, but i prefer more transparency. because of the chemical reaction, no lye remains.
so what are the benefits?
certain ingredients add beneficial properties to soap. oils, butters, clays, etc. all come together and can create an amazing skin-loving bar. since i am not a medical practitioner, i cannot make claims for my soaps. but i do choose ingredients based on what benefits they can contribute to them. many butters and oils are great for moisturizing, even olive oil! clays are amazing for facial bars, as they absorb oils. there are so many amazing benefits for using natural ingredients in handmade soap. as a consumer, it's important to look up and research more about each ingredient before purchasing, but you will never go wrong with a handmade bar of soap.
i make all my soaps in microbatches and i buy my ingredients from reputable suppliers. bar soaps do not require plastic bottles or containers, and they just need to drain and dry off after uses. i pack my soaps in recycled tissue paper as well. it's important to make little changes that can influence others in order to help heal the earth.
handmade soaps are amazing, and i hope you can try them out and make the change.