What You Need to Know about Handcrafted Soap
Posted on March 21 2019
The past years have shown a great interest in making soap, thus the popularity of handmade bars created by crafters. Many of these soap makers take their craft seriously that they even get professional education and acquire sufficient experience, enabling them to create and take pride on their own bar of soap.
Soap making has truly become both a science and art, where hobbyists use cold or hot processes that differ from the way commercially produced soaps are made. Handcrafted soaps, sometimes called handmade or homemade soaps, become a bit of indulgence in this stressful world. You may be wondering what makes these soaps more special than store-bought commercial soaps. Learn more about these soaps and why it is worth considering switching to them now.
Why use handcrafted soaps?
1. They are made of wholesome, natural ingredients.
This means homemade soaps can cleanse the skin without removing natural oils, whereas commercially available bars have synthetic, chemical detergents that can cause skin dryness and irritation.
2. They retain glycerine that moisturizes skin.
Many manufacturers of soaps remove glycerine for use in other more profitable products but in handcrafted soaps, it becomes a natural by-product of soap making. This is also the reason why most commercial soaps dry the skin.
3. They are an art.
Soap making is based on science of mixing particular ingredients. However, handmade soaps are a product of carefully adding oils, water and butters and manipulating colors, fragrances, textures and shapes to formulate a special bar that is too beautiful it can pass as a decorative item. Soap makers are artists who invest time and effort in every batch of bars, making you feel that each soap is made with a personal touch.
4. They are environment friendly.
Homemade soaps contain safe, wholesome ingredients that do not harm the environment when washed down the drain. Responsible soap makers use safe and organic products.
What are the types of handcrafted soaps?
Handcrafted soaps come in different types. They are made from scratch through hot or cold process or using readily available soap base. Soaps can be recognized as handcrafted for as long as much of the
work (at least 50 percent) is done by hand. It may also mean there is minimal to no use of mechanical device and that manufacturing is managed by manual and not automatic means.
Soap makers are proud of their personalized, individual recipes formulated to produce their signature soap. They use natural, quality ingredients such as various vegetable oils, nut butters and seed extracts. They create soaps of different sizes and shapes. As for the technique, the chemical reaction for soap making is always the same, but different soap types are made using different methods based upon a basic formula.
- Cold process soaps. The cold process is typically used when making soap from scratch. It does not add additional heat from the initial soap making process that generates heat, thus the name cold process. Cold processed soaps are opaque, ranging from white to tan depending on the oils added. They are also usually creamy in texture, again depending on the oils used. The lather can be slippery, fluffy to big and tiny. Hardness depends on the oils, amount of water and length of drying. They become harder as they are stored for water evaporates.
- Hot process soaps. As the name implies, hot process applies additional heat when making the soap. This is done so the chemical reaction occurs faster and the soap feels smoother. As to the hardness, it still depends on the oils used, the measure of water and how long water was allowed to evaporate. The color produced is the same as cold processed soap because the selection of oils determines it, just like the kind of lather and other characteristics of the soap.
- Transparent soaps. This type of natural soap follows the hot process method, with some steps and ingredients added to make it “transparent” or clear. Most soap makers who produce this soap use readymade soap base but there are some seasoned artisans who can make them from scratch.
- Liquid soap. Liquid soaps are also made following the hot process method. They become liquid because more water is added and due to the use of potassium hydroxide as opposed to sodium hydroxide. Again, color varies depending on the oil used but typically, liquid soaps are amber or off-white.
- Glycerin soaps. Glycerin is a by-product of saponification in soap making. In most commercial soaps, it is removed and sold for other products such as cosmetics and food. On the other hand, handcrafted soaps retain glycerine so technically, they are glycerine soaps. However, many people refer to glycerine soaps as the transparent soaps. This soap type is recommended for delicate or dry skin.
- Soaps from ready-made bases. There are ready-made soap bases that soap makers can easily buy if they want an easier way to create soaps. All they have to do is melt the base, add fragrance, color and other ingredients and pour into molds of their choice. Handcrafters benefit from using soap bases for they can skip the chemical reaction process and just create the color, shape or scent they want. However, not all readymade soap bases are the same. Some are real soaps that pass through chemical reaction while some have synthetic detergents.
What are the ingredients of handcrafted soaps?
The basic ingredients of handcrafted soaps made from scratch are water, oil and lye. Chemical reaction between these three produces soap. Other ingredients are added for color, scent and other characteristics the maker wants to achieve.
- Base oil. Base oils can be either vegetable or animal fat or oil, but not oils from petroleum. Animal fats were commonly used for traditional soaps, with tallow and lard creating the best soaps. Through the years, as vegetable oils have been sourced easily, lard and tallow have also been replaced largely. Oils may have different chemical reactions, so they could also have different effects on the finished soap product. Soap makers are able to create soaps using various oils to make an outstanding bar of soap.
- Lye. Lye is a primary ingredient in soaps. The reaction called saponification between oils and lye is what produces soaps. All lye present turns into soap. Two types of lye are used for soap making, namely sodium hydroxide for solid soaps and potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps. They can be combined to make cream soaps.
- Water. Water is needed for the lye solution to combine with the oil. The amount varies but it should be enough to let the oil and lye combine properly. As the soap ages, most of the water in it evaporates.
- Scent. Though not necessary, scent is added to most handcrafted soaps. Soap makers use either plant based essential or fragrance oils. Essential oils are natural extracts from plants, but they can be expensive. Fragrance oils on the other hand are synthesized from chemical compounds. They can be blended with essential oils. Examples are fruity scents and food like scents.
- Color. FDA-approved dyes, mica and pigments are used to change the color of soaps.
- Preservatives. Handcrafted soaps do not use preservatives, but some liquid soaps may need preservatives.
Guide to buying handcrafted soap
The popularity of handcrafted soaps has led to corporate craft washing. Companies see that handcrafted or artisan made soap bars are profitable. Be careful about “handcrafted” soaps being just deceitful marketing. Make sure you buy only genuine handcrafted soaps. Here are tips you can follow.
- Ingredients. Soap makers can tell what are found in their soap and the benefits of the ingredients. One way to find out if a soap is deceptive is when it promises to solve some body ailments. The label must include all ingredients.
- Process. it is better to choose hot or cold processed soaps made from scratch rather than melt and pour soaps with ingredients you are unsure of. Most readymade bases have preservatives for mass production.
- Hardness. You can test the hardness of handcrafted soap bars to be able to choose. You may not want a soft bar that can be messy or can melt quickly. High quality soaps should be long lasting and not messy, the reason why most artisan soaps are expensive to buy.
- Texture. You can check the soap if it has crumbly or chalky texture. Well-formulated soaps have the right texture.
Your soap can be your most basic luxury that you can use on a daily basis. Upgrading to handcrafted soaps is an indulgence with significant benefits. Mass-produced, conventional bar soaps are made of petroleum based oils. They might be cheap, hard and plenty but they usually have synthetic ingredients and preservatives.
Are you ready to make the switch to handmade soaps that keep skin healthy and hydrated? You can check out Soap.Club for an amazing range of soap bars. Here you can find premium quality artisan soaps made from pure, organic and vitamin-rich ingredients.