There are many misconceptions about soap making. Here we will try to address some of them.

Let's take a look at the truth about Lye:

Some people are concerned to find out that we use lye in the production of our soap. I have even had people ask me if I could make soap without lye for them because they have sensitive skin. To some extent this concern is understandable. Sodium Hydroxide, better known as Lye, is an extremely caustic substance that can cause serious burns if it comes in contact with a person and moisture. While this is a fact, it is also a fact that soap cannot be made without lye. It is the chemical reaction between a molecule of lye and a molecule of some kind of fat or oil that produces soap in a process called saponification. Even though lye is extremely dangerous, in a properly designed soap recipe all of the lye reacts with the oils and there is no lye left in the finished soap. To make absolutely sure that there is no lye left, conscientious soapers make sure they have extra oil in their recipe. This process of adding extra oil is called superfatting.


Let's take a look at truth about Superfatting:

Superfatting is the practice of leaving unconverted fatty acids (oils) in finished soap and it is done for safety reasons. The accuracy of the scales used, the diligence of the person weighing the ingredients, even whether you weigh in ounces or grams all enter a margin of error in the complete conversion of oils and sodium hydroxide to soap. The worst thing that can happen is for there to be excess lye in the finished soap, which could result in a chemical burn for the user. To prevent this, all conscientious soapers develop their recipes so that there is extra oil for the amount of lye being used. This ensures that ALL the lye is converted.

Some soapers simply reduce the amount of lye they are using to get the proper superfatting they are looking for. The problem with this approach is that you have no control over which oils do not saponify. We choose to use enough lye to saponify all the base oils in our soap, then add superfatting oils after saponification has occurred. We choose our superfatting oils based upon how easily they are absorbed by the skin, and what vitamins and nutrients they can provide. We select a superfatting level based upon the amount of skin conditioning we want in the finished soap.


Let's take a look at the truth about Soap Ingredient Labels:

Basically there are two different methods of listing the ingredients used in the soap that you buy. One is to list the ingredients that were used to produce the soap, or in other words, the ingredients that you started with. The second is to list the chemical compounds that remain after the soap making process is completed. Most handmade soapers choose to use the first method because it is easier for the buyer to understand. Most commercial soap manufacturers choose to use the second method, ostensibly because it is more technically correct, but also because it is harder for the buyer to really understand what is in the product they are buying. However, with a little knowledge, anyone can decipher soap ingredients.

The first thing to understand is that the chemical reaction between a fat/oil and sodium hydroxide (lye) will produce glycerol and a sodium salt of the fatty acid. So, when you look at soap ingredients and you see "SODIUM COCOATE" you know that soap contains coconut oil. Likewise, if you see "SODIUM PALMATE" it contains Palm Oil. If you are trying to stay away from animal products in your skin care products, then pay attention to "SODIUM TALLOWATE" which is made of animal tallow (cattle or sheep fat).

There is another practice of commercial soap manufacturers that further complicates the issue. Take a look at the Dial Soap website and look at their ingredients. Notice they list SODIUM COCOATE*, SODIUM PALM KERNELATE*, SODIUM PALMATE*, SODIUM TALLOWATE*. On the surface this looks pretty good. They list coconut oil, Palm Kernel oil and Palm oil as three of their four fats. All these fats make great soap but notice the little asterisk. The explanation of the asterisk states: "contains one or more of these ingredients" which means that they can legally make their soap from 100% tallow with this ingredient listing.

All of our soaps are made from all natural vegetable oils. Every ingredient listed on the label is used in that soap and they are listed in descending order by weight.