Handmade soap from scratch is created using oil, water and lye. These three ingredients must be mixed in the correct proportions so that they chemically combine and become soap. The oils can be either animal or vegetable but not a petroleum product. The chemical process of these three ingredients reacting to produce soap is called saponification.
Soap is made of oil, water and lye (sodium hydroxide). The oils can be either animal or vegetable. Animal fats commonly used in soap making are lard or tallow. Vegetable oils commonly used in soap making are olive, soybean, coconut, rice bran, sunflower, and safflower. You will often see butters like cocoa butter and shea butter used as well to help create a more moisturizing product.
Antibacterial soap contains active ingredients that are considered to be antibacteria. Triclosan and triclocarban are the most common compounds used as antibacterials in soaps. However, other common antibacterial ingredients in soaps include benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol. Triclosan and triocarban have actually been banned at this point by the FDA. They were not found to actually benefit more than just plain hand washing in terms of reducing bacteria. In addition they found that triclosan washes into the environment and can contribute to making bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.
Soap does not typically go bad although it can become rancid, particularly natural soap. If a soap has become rancid it won’t hurt you but won’t smell or look good. A good rule of thumb is that if a soap looks or smells bad throw it out!
Listed above are some common questions that we are often asked. Many people have no idea how soap is made and are fascinated with the process. I have made several videos showing many of the steps I go through when making cold process soap and I wanted to put them all together here on one page to make things easy to find. Susan’s Soaps & More is a handmade soap business making all natural soaps and skincare products for over 20 years.
Susan’s Soaps & More Soap Shop Tour – Part I
Susan’s Soaps & More Soap Shop Tour – Part II
Susan’s Soaps & More Soap Shop Tour – Part III
Susan Takes You Inside the Soap Shop where she starts at the beginning with melting the different kinds of oils and ends with mixing the lye and oils together.
Susan Shows More of the Process Behind Soapmaking including Pouring the Soap into the mold.
I hope this has given you a better idea of what soap is and how it is made. I am a small batch manufacturer that makes my all-natural, cold process soap by hand. If you have any questions please put them in the comments section and I will be happy to try answer them. If you want to see what products are currently on sale and which are most popular with our customers start with our Home Page.
Till the next post!