Sunday, August 2, 2015

Part 2 Clearing things up about natural, organic, sustainable and what some ingredients are used for in hand made soap.

A hard bar of soap lasts longer than a soft bar of soap, so soap makers prefer to use oils or fats that have this quality.  Lard, tallow, palm and coconut oil are great for making a hard bar of soap.  Without using oils and butters that are known for making a hard bar of soap, a soap maker may wish to add stearic acid or sodium lactate  to create a hard bar of soap.  It is also used to aid in the removal of soap from some molds.

Sodium lactate is a salt used as a food preservative and is derived from lactic acid.  It is commonly used in foods and cosmetics.  It can also be used as a thickener.
Sodium lactate, a form of salt, is used as a food preservative a

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Sodium lactate, a form of salt, is used as a food preservative a

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Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)  is what we commonly refer to as lye or caustic soda.  It is very strong and can burn your skin if you do not wear protective gear when using it.  My mother has a small scar on her forehead from a soap making accident when she was a small child.  While making soap with her mother, she somehow got lye on her forehead, which caused a burn and left a scar.  Most of us think of sodium hydroxide as the Red Devil drain cleaner we at the hardware store.  It is, but it has many other uses.  It can be used for removing peels from fruit and vegetables during processing and it even keeps our pretzels soft.  A soap maker must use lye to make soap.  Lye mixed with fats and a liquid have a chemical reaction called suponification.  After suponification, soap is made and lye is no longer present in the soap.  Added liquids are evaporated during the curing time.   Glycerin is also retained in hand made soap.  So, does my soap contain lye?  No.  It was removed during the suponification process.  As a soap ingredient, I list lye or sodium hydroxide since it was used to make my soap.  The liquid evaporates during the curing time, but I still list it as an ingredient in my soap.

Glycerin is usually removed from manufactured soap and used in other products.  Glycerin is important since it aids in attracting moisture to your skin.

Hot Process is a method for making soap where fats, lye, and liquid are placed in a container and heated.  Other ingredients may be added to the soap.  Once the process is completed, the soap is ready to be placed into molds and it is able to be cut as soon as it cools down and firms up.  This is the method most of us envision when we think of soap making from pioneer days where a woman stirs soap in a large pot outdoors.  There is much less cure time with this method and that appeals to many soap makers.  Currently crock pots are usually the method of choice when it comes to heating soap ingredients in the hot process method.

Cold Process is another method for making soap. Soaps are made with fats, lye, and a liquid like usual.  Other ingredients may be added, but the soap is not cooked or hot processed.  The fats may be heated up and solid fats melted but it is not cooked.  Lye will also create heat when a liquid is added.  There is also a combination of cold processed, oven processed where the soap maker places the soap at a low heat in the oven after placing the soap in molds.

Curing Time is needed for hand made soap to harden.  For cold processed soaps, it is usually about 4 weeks.  They say the PH also is reduced during the curing time in cold processed soaps.  If soap is hot processed, it can be used right after it is set up in the mold, but it is best to let it harden up for a couple weeks. 

Stearic acid is a waxy acid derived from animal and vegetable fats.  It is used as a thickener in soaps and lotions.  This gives soap a smooth waxy feeling.

Detergent is what most people purchase from the major manufacturers.  Detergent is usually made from petroleum products.  Foaming agents, fragrance, dyes, and other items are added to detergents.

Super Fatted Soap is a soap made without suponifying all of the fats.  What I mean by this is that extra fats are added to the soap when it is being made or manufactured.  These extra fats are too much for the lye to suponify with.  This leaves a soap with extra fats to moisturize and condition your skin.
If soap is super fatted, a label should not state fats as being suponified.  Such as suponified coconut oil, suponified castor oil, and the like.  Some of the fats were not suponified.

Next time I will try to explain the difference between fragrance oil and essential oil and hopefully organic and sustainable products.  If you have other questions about soap making, please let me know and I will try to explain them.

Pretty soap leaves you pretty clean!

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