Soap. That’s right soap. I find it to be fascinating! I love making it, love it’s history, and love the science. Over the years I have been asked many times what is soap? Where did it come from? Why is your soap different than from what I can buy in the store and many, many more! As such I have decided to do a series called The Dirt On Soap answering those and other questions. Sharing with you my knowledge and passion about soap may be just that random little bit of information that makes a weird conversation interjection work. I love interjecting conversation with random bits of knowledge. Let’s get started in this post about What Is Soap!
Inquiring Minds Want To Know: What is Soap?
Soap is a mixture of fat or oil, water, and an alkali, or basic salt. Yep three ingredients is all it takes. Soaps are mixtures of sodium or potassium salts and of fatty acids which can be derived from oils or fats by reacting them with an alkali (such as sodium or potassium hydroxide) at 80°–100 °C in a process known as saponification. Now some like it to have amazing scents, others are allergic to smell and want it plain, to those who don’t care as long as it gets them clean….. scent is 100% optional. Absolutely the best part of soap is making up your own formula/recipe combining many different fats or oils that contain different properties to make a customized purpose and scent. While finding the right balance of the ingredients is key to making awesome soap!
Ingredients Are Key
Oils & Fats
As mentioned above you can make soap with any fat or oil. These can be acquired from all over the world from plants, seeds, nuts and even from animals. Every culture has a way of making soap and have used ingredients readily available to them for as long as history is written. In today’s world we have access to thousands. Markedly each fat/oil has been studied and tested and has a list of the benefits and properties that make each one desirable. Although some oils date back to being used for soap before Christ and are still used today other oils are newly being discovered so there is always new oils to explore. I love learning about each oil and doing research and formulating with them!
There are two different types of alkaline salt commonly used in soap making. There is Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide as known commonly as Lye or Caustic Soda. For you inquiring minds sodium hydroxide, NaOH, is a compound of Na (Sodium), O (Oxygen) and H (Hydrogen). It is used to make Cold Process Soap otherwise known as Bar Soap.
Potassium Hydroxide is commonly known as Lye or Caustic Potash. You’ll find the scientific name is KOH and it is a compound of K (Postassium) O (Oxygen) and H (Hydrogen). This form of lye is used to produce your liquid soaps like Shampoo and Bodywash.
Water. Cool clear water. It is equally important as the oils/fats and the alkaline salt but it’s what’s in the water that truly makes the difference! But you are thinking water is water right?! A point often overlooked is that water contains trace elements. It is important to realize these because they make all the difference when combined with the oils, alkaline salt and scents you add. Specifically trace elements act as a buffer and for example one cause your soap to get too hot or not hot enough. These can be a pain! Besides, in the water and depending on where it is sourced, city water or ground, add some chemicals, like fluoride, chlorine, even pesticides, that you are even aware of to your products. Ummm…..ewwwww…..just sayin’. On the positive side though using filter water is always best practice to control just this.
To scent or not to scent that is the question. Surely each person has an opinion on scents they like and don’t like. Granted for those allergic to all smells the answer is “Don’t even think about it!”. From there people have such array of what smells they like. There are fruits, florals, woody, earthy, and spicy to name just a few of the descriptive words used to describe what smells you enjoy. In fact you can use essential oils or fragrance oils individually or in your own combination to make a unique scent that is all your own.
I love, Love, LOVE blending scents! Not all are worthy of using in my products. In fact some are really, really bad. Although when I do a good job and it comes together amazingly…wahooo! Blending is definitely trial and error but it let’s my creativity flow. As a matter of fact scents are very personal and you should be exploring them. Surprisingly every person has an undetectable “scent” call pheromones and different scents blend differently with your body’s chemistry. That is why some can wear let’s say vanilla and it smells amazing while others smell horrible.
Pure soap. That’s what we make! We do not use any chemicals, detergents or petroleum to make any of our products. Additionally all of them are made without parabens, phthalates and sulfates too. You will only find the highest quality of organic ingredients (some are all natural because they cannot be obtained organically, for example the lye.) in our soap. Because of this method and standard you can use our soap from your hairline to the soles of your feet and all the places in between! Our pH is 7.25 so it cleanses and doesn’t strip your skin reducing the need for additional moisturizers. We offer a wide variety of scents to choose from that include therapeutic grade essential oils, a blend of these, a high quality fragrance oil or a blend of an essential oil and fragrance oil.
Soap Is Simple
In conclusion you can see soap is pretty basic. Now how does soap work? Join us in our next post about How Does Soap Work in part 2 of our Get The Dirt On Soap series. Make sure you sign up for our blog so you don’t miss a beat!
From my soapiery to you,