So Why Choose Handmade Soap?
Well Soap is Soap....Isn't it ?
Not all Soaps Are Created Equal
Before making and using handmade soaps I had no idea that there was really any distinct difference between the two apart from the fact one was mass produced and the other was handmade.
How wrong I was. There is no difference, you cannot even compare the two.
They have the same name but that is where the similarities end.
Although the process is similar the first thing to take into account is the impact the ingredients have, as they have a strong bearing on the qualities of the soap in many ways.
Poor ingredients in - not so great soap out.... this is phase one on the road to harsh soap.
Most if not all commercial soaps are predominantly if not completely made up of palm oil and its derivatives.
This ingredient adds certain benefits to the soap such as hardness, fluffy lather and is very cheap to buy but does not make for a soap that is particularly moisturizing.
There are other serious concerns associated with its production as well.
What happens to the 'batter' then furthermore contributes to it's harshness and there is no getting off the train of a detergent like soap.
To understand the difference lets take a quick tour of the soap making process....
Traditionally handmade soap is produced by adding Sodium Hydroxide ( Lye) dissolved in water or a liquid of choice which is then added to oils.
This is then blended until an exothermic chemical reaction begins to takes place and the mixture begins to thicken.
At this point the ' batter' is poured into moulds and then left for the soap to thickening further
to reach a point of becoming solid.
This process of saponification ( converting fats into a soap) takes approximately 18- 24 hours to complete.
The soap is then removed from the mould and left to air dry and 'cure' for at least four to six weeks ..... Hey presto you have a bar of soap.
This is a very simplified explanation of the soap making process.
The magic of hand made soap is firstly in the choice of the oils to begin with because each oil contributes different qualities to the end product such as hardness but more importantly moisturizing potential as oils retain the quality they started with, so Olive oil remains olive oil just in a different form.
Furthermore as part of this process of converting yet retaining the qualities of the oils , a wonderful key 'side effect' happens within the soap batter which is the production of glycerine. Hand made soaps contain 10 - 25 % glycerine content which is a natural skin emollient/ humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin and this is retained, so making the soap naturally skin softening.
So commercial soap manufacturers remove most of the glycerine from the batter and then it is used in skin care products
This leaves the bar devoid of the beneficial glycerine and well the oils used offer little to benefit your skin. Hence that dry tight feeling associated with using commercial soap.
Of course don't forget to factor in the artificial ingredients and synthetic fragrance oils.
So basically you need to buy two products instead of one, a soap and a moisturizer, one product to strip the natural oils from your skin and one to replace it.
Very nifty especially is you are in the business of wanting to sell plenty of products.
So why buy twice when you can just buy once without the packaging to boot!
Most commercial soaps are designed to clean and the focus appears to not be on
beneficial properties and skin health or sadly not even being particularly moisturizing.
They may be irritating or drying especially if your skin is sensitive.
Bearing in mind that the skin is the largest organ of the body and is porous you may decide to feed it with something that is less chemical laden and designed to be more kind to the skin
Here list is just some of the ingredients you may recognize in a commercial bar of soap
Of course these hazards are potentially experienced when large quantities of these chemicals are taken into the body. Personally I choose not to take the risk at even low levels. I am told that our bodies eliminate these so there is no issue but I personally feel our bodies are overburdened as it is with toxins from a variety of sources so why add another one.
Also this is only true if your bodies are functioning well.
And I know from my own experience how a commercial bar of soap makes my skin feel and the irritation I personally have from their use and I also know how different my soaps make my skin feel and after so many years of using them I can attest to the fact that I no longer experience dry skin or irritation and I cannot remember the last time I used a moisturizer.
I believe it is good to have full knowledge and awareness so one can make an informed choice, so these are commonly found in commercial soaps.
Parabens- Mimics oestrogen and may be linked with breast issues.
Sodium cacodyl isethionate a synthetic detergent
Sodium isethionate a detergent & emulsifying agent
Synthetic colours interferes with the skins natural oil balance and blocks pores.
Tetrasodium EDTA a preservative made from formaldehyde
Artificial Fragrances have been found to contain phthalates (THAL-ates) there is some concern that these may disrupt hormone activity & may be linked to issues with reproductive processes.
Stearic Acid is an emulsifier, used as a stabilizer in plastics which may cause irritation, itching redness, sun sensitivity and inflammation
Triclosan is linked to a weakening of the immune system and abnormal functioning of the endocrine & thyroid hormone signalling. Exposure of antibacterial ingredients in young children is considered to possibly increase the development of eczema, asthma and development of allergies.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) - a ' moderate hazard' linked to cancer, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, is a skin irritant and potential endocrine disruptor.
Sodium laurate sulphate (SLES) causes irritation of skin & eyes.
Formaldehyde can cause skin irritation itching and dermatitis.
Toluene can cause dermatitis.
Find out about the qualities that the oils & other botanical ingredients bring to my soaps please click to read more you'll find all of them are easy to pronounce & reassuringly recognizable.
What Exactly is In A Bar of Commercially Made Soap ?
So what is the difference you ask.....
Using & Looking After Your handmade Soap
Handmade soaps are like glorious blocks of hardened oils
& unlike commercially produced soaps have no artificial hardeners & are not compressed into bullet hard blocks.
So handmade soaps are great for your skin in so many ways like lathering yourself with liquid lathering oils rather than a mild detergent, though once you begin to use them they need to be treated with a little love, not that they are needy ...
they're just special.
The main difference that people find with handmade soaps is that after a few turns of the soap in your hands that is really all you need... It doesn't seem like much but then rub your hands together and the lather develops or better still use a bath pouf and you'll have voluminous lather after very little rubbing, It kind of comes on unexpectedly..
After use, remember to leave it in a dry place where it is not
sitting in water or somewhere particularly humid or damp.
Leave the soap dry out between uses preferably on
a draining soap dish to hold the soap above any sitting water.
They should be kept somewhere well ventilated and not in
a humid place as this will prevent them from dying out properly.
I have a selection of draining soap dishes -
made from wood or bamboo , I also have some lovely handmade ceramic dishes, these are all individual and unique.