Soap Frequently Asked Questions
What is soap?
It is simply a salt. It is an alkali of fatty acids that produces cleansing properties. “True soap” like our handmade soap does not produce cleansing properties due to added detergents (like most glycerin and liquid soaps). We use a combination of vegetable oils to produce big, bubbly lather. It is our over 20 years of experience that makes our soap special.
How is soap made?
Soap is made by combining fat from plants or animals and an alkali called “lye”. When combined, a chemical reaction called saponification occurs resulting in soap and glycerin being produced.
Lye is used to make soap? Isn’t that a drain cleaner?
Lye refers to sodium hydroxide (aka caustic soda, chemical formula NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (aka caustic potash, chemical formula KOH). Lye is usually manufactured in a factory setting in modern times, and some consider it to be synthetic. However the lye used to make soap is no longer in the soap--it has been converted to a salt by combining with fatty acids.
Why do some soaps have ingredients listed and some don’t?
The Food and Drug Administration considers “true soap” to be a safe enough product that it is exempt from ingredient labeling requirements--if it is sold as “SOAP”. However, I believe more information is a good thing. Including all the ingredients on the label helps consumers truly identify which soaps are natural and which are not.
So, why does the soap I use now not have any lye in it?
First off remember that you cannot have soap without lye. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this fact. There may be several reasons you don’t see lye on a label. First off, it might not really be soap, but, rather a detergent. I don’t believe detergents are good for your skin--they are synthetic and they can be quite harsh. Many bath gels and liquid soaps fall into this category.
The other reason is that many manufacturers give only a partial list of ingredients or don’t give them at all… mainly because they are touting a “natural” soap, which is really not natural at all. This does not mean it isn’t a good soap--it just can’t be compared with handmade soaps--you can’t compare apples to oranges! If your bar soap does not list lye as an ingredient, then the cleansing properties that you have bought it for may be due to detergents. That or the manufacturer is hiding something.
Why are ingredients so hard to understand?
First off, just because you don’t know how to pronounce an ingredient or what it is, don’t assume that the ingredient is dangerous or even unnatural. Since I choose to disclose my full ingredients I follow “INCI” standards for labeling. INCI is the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients and they require the full Latin or horticultural name for the ingredients. I do however put the common name in parenthesis so if you look closely, you can see what the ingredient really is!
Why do some soaps say 100% natural and others don’t?
I subscribe to the Natural Ingredients Resource Center’s way of thinking. They say that an ingredient may be called “natural” only if it contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients and has had no more processing than something which could be made in a household kitchen. The only thing that makes my 98% Natural soaps less than being all natural is the fragrance oils I use. But, these fragrances are of the highest quality and do not contain parabens. My 100% Natural soaps contain essential oils or are scent and color-free.
The FDA considers “true soap” to be a safe product that is exempt from ingredient labeling requirements. The NIRC feels that “true soap”, made with ONLY natural raw materials and lye, can be labeled as “natural soap”.
Why do you sell soaps that are all natural and some that are not?
The easy answer is that I like scent! Fragrance oils are the reason that my other soaps are not all natural. Even the soaps I make that are not all natural still are produced using a minimum 98% natural ingredients!
Will your soap last long or will it melt in the shower?
I do not include chemical hardeners in my soaps like most commercially manufactured soaps. Instead, I use a blend of vegetable oils that I feel produces a hard, long lasting bar of soap. However, many factors will affect how long the bar of soap will last. Does your soap dish drain? You must keep these soaps out of standing water or they will melt or get mushy. Is your soap used by everyone in the family? A hairy person will use up a lot more soap than someone with mainly smooth skin.
I know there are lots of different ways to make soap. Which method do you use?
I use primarily the hot process method of soap making. I use large stainless steel double boilers on my stove top in the soap kitchen to “cook” the soap until it has reached the proper pH level which ensures the lye has been all used up. After the soap has cooled and all the additives have been incorporated into the soap, it is placed in a large handmade, wood mold where it sits overnight to harden. I then use handmade, wood and wire log splitters and bar cutters to cut the bars. Once cut, the soap bars cure on my drying racks for a period of time varying from 2 - 12 weeks before it is beveled and packaged. The curing time allows the water to evaporate from the bar of soap becoming harder and it also allows the soap to become milder.
More questions? Just ask and I will do my best to provide the information you need. Since I am the formulator, the manufacturer and the packager, I can help!