Our definition of natural soap is one made of oils, fats and butters that have been mixed with lye. A completely natural soap should also be coloured naturally as well, to adhere to the definition of a natural soap.
Soap is made through the process of saponification. This is where lye (a mix of either Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide and water) is mixed with oils, fats and butters to turn the oils into salts. It is a chemical reaction where the triglycerides of the fats and oils react with the lye.
This reaction is an exothermic one, which means that it produces heat. The amount of heat used to produce the nature soap will determine whether it is hot or cold process soap. The majority of natural soaps are made using the cold process method.
Cold process soap is made by as the name suggests keeping the soap cooler. Usually the temperature of cold process soap will be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Still quite hot, but cooler than the hot process.
Cold process soap is easier to pour as it is generally still very liquid when the mixing of the soap has finished. It also yeilds a bar that looks fresh and clean cut and generally more aesthetically pleasing.
Hot process soap like the name suggests is made at a higher temperature, which for most soap makers will be around 150 degrees fahrenheit or hotter. Extremely hot and you would know about it if you got any spilt on you.
Hot process soap is less easy on the eye as it is harder to pour into a mould. Let's just say if you like the rustic look then you will like hot process soap better than the clean cut of cold process soap. Hot process takes only 1-3 weeks to cure as most of the water has already left it in the process, where as cold process will take from 4-6 weeks to cure.
Once the saponification has happened and the raw soap has been poured into the mould, it will take around 24-48 hours for the process to be complete. The soap will then have to cure for a set amount of time which will depend on which process was used but can range anywhere from 1 week to 5 years.
Benefits of natural soap
Natural soaps are great as skin care products and they have some amazing benefits for the skin. Let’s look at the benefits of natural hand soap and what it can do for your skin.
Benefits of Natural soap include:
Natural soap bars naturally produce an ingredient called glycerin. This ingredient is highly prized for its moisturising abilities and in the over the counter soaps you usually find in supermarkets and pharmacies, this ingredient is removed and sold on. Natural soaps tend to contain a lot of glycerin which is why they are so moisturising, and they are perfect as bath gift sets for kids.
Natural soap bars are generally gentler on skin than common soaps found in the shops. They contain no drying chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate which can strip the skin of its natural grease and cause excessive water loss. This causes the skin to dry out. Natural soaps with glycerin are less aggressive in their cleaning action and also contain moisturising glycerin to draw moisture back towards the skin.
Natural soaps are a great way to be more green. By using a natural skin care soap instead of a plastic packaged shower gel, your saving a lot of plastic from ever being created. You are also preventing lots of the chemicals used in over the counter soaps from getting back into the environment.
One of the chemicals used in antibacterial soaps turns into a dioxin when exposed to sunlight and these carcinogenic dioxins are being found in higher densities in our drinking water. Find out more in our dedicated article on antibacterial soap here.
True natural soap bars are made with essential oils rather than fragrance oils. Essential oils come directly from the plant and thus smells like the scent you would know from nature. They also have a wide array of natural benefits for the skin and body.
Natural soaps don’t contain any synthetic chemicals. Chemicals used in over the counter soaps can cause the skin to dry out and can possibly lead to eczema. Also natural soap contains essential oils for scents rather than fragrance oils.
Fragrance oils can contain over 100 different chemicals within them, including parabens and phthalates. These chemicals are potential carcinogens and are used to enhance the scents and increase shelf life.
Natural handmade soaps tend to be more expensive than over the counter bars of soap. One of the main reasons for this is that natural soaps usually contain better ingredients. For instance most bars bought from a supermarket will contain palm oil and cheap chemical ingredients such as sodium laureth sulphate.
Both are very cheap, not great for skin. On the other hand natural soaps usually but not always tend to have more expensive ingredients which are better for skin such as olive oil, cocoa butter and hempseed oil.
These ingredients make a more moisturising bar, but the ingredients are generally more expensive than palm oil and chemicals used in soap making, but with these come greater benefits for the skin.
Natural soaps have many benefits and each will have slightly different benefits depending on the oils chosen. For instance our soaps have been specifically designed for dry skin, as they contain lots of glycerin and emollient ingredients which aid the skin in retaining moisture. Other natural soaps will do different jobs depending on how they have been formulated.
In general natural soaps are really amazing for baby skin care and we know ours are great for dry skin as we specifically designed them to be this way!
These cleansing properties leave the skin clean and unlike soaps that contain sodium lauryl sulphate or derivatives of it. These soaps, shower gels (including bath bomb) and hand washes will clean your skin as they are a chemical surfactant, but they will also rinse away the natural grease your skin produces.
This is another quality in soap we love. When your soap produces a rich creamy lather, it feels nice on the skin, suitable as adult skin care.
After wiping, spraying with antibacterial spray, white spirit and iron wool wouldn’t remove it, we made the conscious decision to only use natural essential oils in our soaps. Something that cannot be removed by such a serious amount of cleaning chemicals and effort surely can’t be good for skin. There are also novel soaps like fruit shaped bath bomb.