What is handmade soap?

Handmade soap refers to soap that is crafted using traditional methods by individuals or small-scale soap makers rather than being mass-produced in a factory setting. It involves combining oils, fats, and lye (sodium hydroxide + water ) to create a chemical reaction known as saponification, which transforms the ingredients into soap.

Handmade soap is typically made in small batches and allows soap makers to have greater control over the ingredients and customization options. Natural oils and kinds of butter such as olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter are often used in handmade soap recipes. Additionally, essential oils, fragrance oils, herbs, botanicals, and natural colorants can be added to create unique scents, textures, and visual designs.

What is the difference between commercial soap and handmade soap?

Handmade soaps are crafted using natural ingredients, whereas commercial soaps often contain synthetic lubricants, surfactants, and detergents. Unlike commercial soaps that use chemical substitutes to mimic glycerin, handmade soaps retain the natural glycerin produced during the soap-making process. This retention of glycerin contributes to the beneficial qualities of handmade soap, despite the potential for a softer texture. By using natural ingredients, handmade soaps offer a more gentle experience for the skin. 

The decision to retain glycerin in handmade soap is deliberate, as glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin. This helps maintain the skin's natural hydration balance and promotes a healthier appearance. While the presence of glycerin may result in a slightly softer texture compared to commercial soaps, the added benefits it brings make it a valuable component of handmade soap.

Why does handmade soap melts fast?

Handmade soap may appear to melt faster than commercial soaps due to several factors:

1. Higher Glycerin Content: Handmade soaps often have a higher glycerin content compared to commercial soaps. Glycerin is a natural humectant that attracts moisture from the air, resulting in a softer texture. This increased moisture absorption can cause handmade soap to dissolve more quickly when exposed to water.

2. Lack of Preservatives: Handmade soaps usually do not contain synthetic preservatives that extend the shelf life of commercial soaps. Without these preservatives, natural handmade soaps may have a shorter lifespan and can dissolve faster when used in water. 

3. Softer Texture: Handmade soaps are often formulated with natural oils, butters, and other nourishing ingredients that make them softer. This softer texture allows the soap to easily break down when in contact with water, leading to a faster melting rate compared to harder, commercially produced soaps.

4. Limited Chemical Stabilizers: Commercial soaps often include chemical stabilizers and hardeners to prolong their shelf life and maintain their shape. Handmade soaps, on the other hand, typically rely on natural ingredients and traditional soap-making techniques, which may result in a more delicate structure that melts faster when used. 

Wait, Soapmakers use Lye? But Lye is not natural.

No Lye. No Soap. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. While lye is used in the initial stages of soap making, it undergoes a chemical reaction called saponification and transforms into soap, binding with fatty acids. The end result is a completely different substance without any trace of lye.

It's a common misconception that lye remains in the final soap product, but that's simply not true. The lye is necessary to create the chemical reaction that turns oils and fats into soap, but once the process is complete, the lye is no longer present.

Saponification is a carefully controlled process where the correct amount of lye is used to ensure that all the lye reacts with the oils and fats, leaving behind a safe and gentle soap. Soap makers follow specific formulas and measurements to achieve the right balance, ensuring that the lye is fully utilized in the process. 

So, rest assured, the handmade soap you use doesn't contain lye. It has transformed into a wonderful, gentle product through the chemical transformation of saponification.

What can I do to lengthen the life cycle of my handmade soap?

Handmade soaps are distinct from commercial soaps, and acknowledging their unique characteristics allows us to care for them differently.

To help prolong the lifespan of handmade soap and minimize melting, it is advisable to keep the soap dry between uses by using a well-draining soap dish or keeping it in a soap saver bag. This will allow the soap to dry out and harden, reducing the rate of dissolution.

Rotating between multiple bars of soap allows each bar to dry thoroughly between uses, reducing the amount of time spent in contact with water. This helps to preserve the soap's structure and prevent excessive melting. By allowing the soap to fully dry out, you can extend its lifespan and ensure that it lasts longer.