We do our best attempt to answer your questions. Here are several common questions that we have received from our website visitors:
No! A well-made, superfatted soap doesn’t contain lye (sodium hydroxide).
This “old wives tale” began because the sodium hydroxide, alkali is employed in the production of soap. It’s crucial to use a solid alkali as a reagent through saponification — the chemical reaction which transforms oils and fats into soap and glycerin. After saponification is finished, however, you’re left with glycerin, soap and a little bit of skin-loving superfat.
The term saponification is the title given to the chemical reaction that takes place when an animal fat or vegetable oil is mixed with a strong alkali. This products of this reaction are just two: glycerin and soap. Water is also present although it doesn’t enter in the chemical reaction. The water is only a medium for the alkali, which is otherwise a powder.
The title saponification actually means “soap making.” The origin word, “Sapo”, is Latin for soap. The Italian name for soap is Sapone. Soap production has its roots in early Babylon nearby 2500 – 2800 BC.
The oils used in modern handmade soap are carefully selected by the soap manufacturer for the character they impart to the final soap. Coconut oil makes bubbly lather, produces a great deal of glycerin, and is extremely stable. Olive oil contains essential antioxidants, and its soap produces a creamier lather. Rendered beef fat, or Tallow, forms a white, stately bar that is strong and produces ample lather. Several oils may be used, each one for a particular reason. Your soap manufacturer will be pleased to inform you which oils are utilized to create his or her soap.
The alkali applied in contemporary soap is either potassium hydroxide, that is used to create liquid detergent or soft soap due to its higher solubility, or sodium hydroxide, which is applied to create bar soap. The general term for the alkali became simply “lye,” which curiously isn’t short for alkali, but originated from the Anglo-Saxon language.
Soap produced in farms and cottages in ancient American times started called “lye soap.” That term is not pejorative and critical and indicates a hard soap that can hurt your skin.
The old soap was got a bad name since it had an excessive quantity derogatory and denoted a harsh soap of caustic. Measuring and weighing techniques were primitive, and understanding of soap chemistry was non-existent or elementary.
The fact is that modern handmade soap inevitably made to find soap, has no lye in the product. It has been responded to form glycerin and soap.
A curious fact about Soap is that regular soap found in the supermarket made in mass-produced factories does contain a small number of alkali inside. It has had all its naturally-occurring glycerin extracted so it could be marketed as a separate product.
Why? Greater profit. An important distinction between our Real handmade soap as well as commercial soap are the glycerin left in Real Handmade Soap, and thus it retains its moisturizing feature.
~ ~ Richard Hamner, Green Mountain Soap Company
Yes! The reason the Real Handmade Soap is soft to the skin is due to the glycerin. Glycerin is a simple by-product of the soap making procedure.
Commercial manufacturers to remove it as it “gums” up the milling machines and since it’s an important product which may be traded to the beauty and other industries. Real Handmade soap manufacturers do not eliminate the glycerin. As glycerin is a “humectant” that is a category of substances that brings moisture.
What this implies to you is that soap containing glycerin moisturizes your skin. Whereas, soap with no glycerin dries your skin. Glycerin is what creates the beautiful feeling that people generally correlate with Real Handmade Soap.
Commercial soap makers remove the glycerin since it “gums” up the milling machines and since it’s a valuable commodity which may be traded to the beauty and other industries.
A real soapmaker does not remove the glycerin since glycerin is a “humectant” that is a category of substances that brings moisture. If it’s Real Handmade Soap, it contains glycerin since glycerin is a pure by-product of the saponification.
Again, what this implies to you is that soap with glycerin nourishes your skin. Soap that does not contain glycerin dries out your skin. Glycerin is what creates the beautiful feeling that people associate with Real Handmade Soap.
In the last recent years, there has been a virtual avalanche of so-called “handmade soap” in the market. Unfortunately, a number of the offerings aren’t real handmade soap from scratch. Frequently these bars are only “Melt & Pour” foundations which were melted down, dyed, scented and/or decorated.
These soaps are transparent but, they may be opaque to confuse the matter further. To make things critical, the consumer is often misled by advertisement hype, from the salesperson or by text on a site, that these bars are mild on the skin because they “hold no lye” or the base has been created by “boiling vegetables” or some of the constituents in the base come from “pure mountain berries,” and many more. These statements are misinformation.
In our opinion, the most severe misinformation is that the “my soap contains no lye” statement, inferring that other soap does contain lye. The simple fact is that NO superfatted bar of handmade soap comprises lye.
Sodium hydroxide or Lye is the `at leads to saponification — the chemical process that converts oils and fats into glycerin and soap–, though the sodium hydroxide doesn’t remain in the bar since it has reacted with the fats and oils to be chemically converted into soap and glycerin.
Another important thing of which to be aware is that — if a product is a block of soap or if it contains glycerin, then, by the chemical nature of soap and glycerin, it has been produced by using sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali.
If the salesperson or marketing material on a site infers that there’s been no lye used in the production of the product you can be assured that what you are currently buying is a detergent bar — that, for many people, is extremely drying.
If the vendor declares that they are selling soap, but they didn’t use lye, it means they are selling you a product that they produced by melting down a pre-made commercial base. They most certainly did not make the bar from scratch.
With so much misinformation in the market, how can there be consumer confidence that they’re actually purchasing skin-loving handmade soap? The best method is to question your vendor.
I can guarantee that a handmade soap from scratch soapmaker will be happy to explain their procedure. Here a few possible questions to get you started:
If your seller starts exclaiming that they “used no lye” then go on the other route. You’re not currently getting a real handmade soap.
Even though the soap they’re vending may be pretty or smell nice, you will most likely find that for skin care, you may prefer a real “handmade from scratch” bar of handmade soap.
~~Leslie Plant, Leslie’s Garden Handcrafted Soaps