Crafting anything by hand adds a special and authentic element. Because of the skill, time, care and effort taken in individually crafting each soap, the item becomes more meaningful. The purchaser receives something that is created with care and attention that can be seen and touched.
Industrially Produced Soap
This craftsmanship is absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing. Until the industrial revolution, soap making was done on a small scale by hand. With the advent of the industrial revolution, soap manufacturing practices radically altered what was traditionally called “soap”.
The industrial process focuses around production levels, and materials are chosen with attention to ensuring they are fast and economical to produce. To keep up with quantities, a totally automated process was required, which involves manipulating the ingredients.
Commercial soap making starts not with whole vegetable and animal fats and oils as in the cold process method, but with substances withdrawn from these fats and oils (called isolated fatty acids). The acids no longer contain any vitamins, proteins or unsaponifiables. Glycerine is the best part of soap, as it attracts moisture to the skin and leaves it soft and supple, yet commercial soap makers commonly extract and on sell the glycerine for use in moisturisers and cosmetics, where it commands a higher price.
Commercial soap also commonly contains animal based ingredients, and sodium laurel sulphates - an inexpensive synthetic industrial detergent commonly used, to increase lather and foam. It is a highly corrosive chemical, which dries skin by stripping the protective oils from the surface so it can't effectively regulate moisture. SLS is also used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers.
Cold Process Soap Making
The traditional cold method of handmade soap making, is to craft luxurious soap, which is made in small, quality controlled batches by hand, then naturally air-dried to create a heavier, longer-lasting bar.
Soap is made from scratch from a blend of food grade (edible) oils such as olive, coconut and rice bran. The oils are then combined with a sodium hydroxide solution and stirred together to create soap. Just prior to pouring the saponified oils into moulds at trace, essential oil or fragrance oil is added. After at least 48 hours, the soap is removed from the mould and racked for air curing. Soap is cured for 4- 8 weeks. Hand made soap needs to slowly cure over time in order to harden, and for saponification to be completed. Air curing soaps on racks ensures that no lye is left in the finished bars.
All cold process handmade soap must contains lye also known as sodium hydroxide, as it is the catalyst that causes saponification - the chemical reaction that turns fats and oils into soap and glycerin. Sodium hydroxide is derived from sodium chloride (sea salt) and converts the long chain fatty acids of oils into soap. The sodium hydroxide does not remain in the bar because once it has reacted with the oils and fats it is chemically changed into soap and glycerin. Any final traces also disappear during the curing process on the rack. As the bars harden, they become milder. Like fine wine, the longer the handmade soap cures, the better it becomes. The end result is a mild soap that nourishes your skin.
Melt And Pour Soap Method
Many handmade soaps are crafted from a pre-manufactured commercially made soap bases, referred to as melt and pour, which is designed to be melted down and then simply poured into a mould without changing its consistency. The soap base has already gone through saponification so no lye or oils added are used, and there is no cure time required. This type ion soap making is equally rewarding and a legitimate craft, which requires more than just melting, moulding and slicing soap. Creative decisions, temperature control, colouring, fragrancing and embedding designs all contribute towards achieving the perfect bar.
Buy & Sell Handmade
Whatever type of soap making you pursue, as is the nature of any hand made product, each soap is unique ! Above all, purchasing hand made soap joyfully reconnects us to the local and human sources of our goods!