We love making it!
We have been handcrafting soap for over twenty years. In addition to being a great product, it’s also a fun creative process with so many wonderful ingredients to choose from… Oils and butters, natural additives like fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, natural pigments, honey, goat’s milk… Then there are thousands of fragrances and colours that can be blended together, swirled and patterned. There is never a shortage of ideas for the next soap. “What would happen if I added this or changed that?”
Though soap is time consuming and not a very cost-efficient use of our time, we both share a love for it. There is nothing like unmolding a perfect bar of soap, waiting to see what the scent will be like (it changes during the chemical reactions of soapmaking) and what kind of patterns, colours and swirls were you able to achieve this time. It’s always different and that’s what makes it so much more fun than the rest of what we make. Many of our other products follow a strict recipe and every batch is the same. However, with soap making, we get to play and experiment.
The process of making soap
If you don’t already know, soap is made by combining very specific oils with a very specific amount of water and lye. In the old days, lye was made by pouring rain water through wood ashes. The problem with this was you never knew how strong your lye was. Now days lye is sold commercially and is the same strength every time. This is important to soapmaking as every oil requires a specific amount of lye to change it into soap. Every oil delivers something different to the soap. Some make the soap hard while others deliver exceptional lather. Many add vitamins and minerals and are highly moisturizing.
Now that you have chosen your ingredients, what characteristics your soap will have, and you know how much water and lye you need, you’re ready to start. (Don’t forget to safety up, cover ups, gloves, safety glasses.)
- Add water and lye together in a pot and heat (this will start steaming immediately).
- Heat your oils to a very specific temperature. Once the lye water is the exact same temperature as your oils, pour the oil and lye water together
- Beat together until thick like pudding (called trace). The chemical reaction that takes place is called saponification. When we first started, we mixed with a wooden spoon which would take up to an hour of constant stirring. Today, stick blenders are available which speeds up the process considerably.
- Add color, essential oils or fragrance, seeds, fruits etc and pour into molds.
- Wrap in blankets so it doesn’t catch a cold and wait 3 days. Now you can unmold the soap and behold your newest creation BUT you still can’t use it.
- It has to sit and cure for a minimum of 3-4 weeks (it is still going through chemical process until every molecule of lye is combined with the oil to form soap and glycerin).
Like a fine cheddar or whiskey, the older the soap, the better! NOW you are ready to enjoy your handmade soap creation.
Detergent vs. soap
Did you know that commercial soap by law isn’t allowed to be called “soap”. This is because they are actually detergent. They not only strip the dirt from your skin but the natural oils as well. Companies like Dove and Dial cleverly disguise their detergent by calling it beauty bars, moisturizing bars, skin cleaners, etc. They are manufactured using chemical hardeners, chemical foaming agents, chemical strippers, dyes, and animal by-products. Plus, during the detergent making process, the companies extract the glycerin (a wonderful moisturizer) which is formed and sell it separately.
Ingredients from a factory-made, chemical beauty bar:
Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium cocoate, sodium laurel sulfate, water, sodium isethionate, stearic acid, coconut fatty acid, fragrance, titanium dioxide, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium etidronate, BHT, FD&C blue no. 1, D&C red no. 33.
In our handmade soaps, we use high quality, natural ingredients to make our handmade soap bars. Here are the main ingredients from our handmade soaps:
Saponified oils of coconut, palm, olive, cocoa butter, castor oil, water and lye, silk, essential oils, and natural pigments. This also includes the by product glycerin, a moisturizing agent
We also use various fruits and vegetables like pumpkin and raspberries, herbs such as white willow bark and peppermint, Himalayan sea salt, tamanu oil, and activated charcoal. We typically use our high quality essential oils, but occasionally we will make an exception and use a very high quality fragrance oil instead, simply because the scent is too good to pass up!