SOAP MAKING METHODS June 25 2014, 0 Comments
FACT FILES ON HANDMADE, PURE ORGANIC SOAP
ilo ORGANICS soaps are handcrafted using the cold process method of soap manufacture. This method ensures that the natural nutrient qualities of the selected organic plant oils used remain intact- as the ingredients are mixed by hand without the use of heat.
We have provided a brief description of the various methods used to make soap for your scrutiny. We believe that informed people make informed decisions.
COLD PROCESS METHOD- used by ilo ORGANICS
This method involves mixing a fatty acid (the oil) with an alkali (sodium hydroxide) to form a solid. This process is called saponification. The resultant soap is a fatty acid salt.
During the first 24 hours after combining the ingredients and pouring it into moulds, the molecules reconfigure- causing the mixture to generate natural heat, and progress through a transparent gel stage before becoming an opaque solid. At this point, the sodium hydroxide has been rendered completely inert- creating natural glycerine as a by-product in its place. It is for this reason that sodium hydroxide is not required to be listed as an ingredient, as it has a technical effect in the production process only, and is converted into glycerine as an ingredient.
A simple explanation of this molecular reaction is: fat (the oil) + 3NaOH (sodium hydroxide) = glycerine + 3soap.
It is the naturally achieved glycerine content that makes handcrafted soap smooth and soft in texture, and even more moisturising than from the selected plant oil content. Glycerine is a humectant- attracting moisture to the skin. Technically, all handcrafted cold process soaps can be termed ‘glycerine soaps’. There is no such thing as 100% glycerine soap. On checking commercial soap labels, the glycerine will be listed in the descending order of ingredients as an additive- along with a lengthy list of petrochemical based ingredients. A transparent soap is a heavily processed soap.
It is the natural glycerine content of cold process soap attracting surrounding environmental moisture that can turn the soap to glug. It is important to keep the soap well drained and aired between uses. For this reason, ilo ORGANICS provides a small plastic drainer for use with our soaps.
ilo ORGANICS cut the solidified soap by hand, and allow the soap to harden through evaporation for up to 8 weeks, before packaging it. ilo ORGANICS handcrafted soaps achieve approximately 12% natural glycerine content- to lavish the skin with its supremely moisturising quality. The glycerine is identified as the clear, sticky component of the moistened soap.
Soaps made by the cold process method achieve an opaque smooth, even and creamy texture- that is relatively soft in comparison to commercially produced soaps. Handcrafted soaps made from pure plant oils using the cold process method don’t require preservatives. However, ilo ORGANICS recommends that the soaps be used within 12 months of purchase.
By using this manufacturing method, the soap-maker is required to be registered with NICNAS- the Government Department that soap-making is regulated by in Australia. If the soap-maker is not registered, they are in breach of NICNAS and ACCC requirements for the manufacturing and sale of soap.
HOT PROCESS METHOD
This method uses the same combination of a fatty acid with an alkali- as does the cold process method, but the mixture is then heated for several hours to remove most of the moisture content. The resultant mixture is a thick, translucent globular gel that is then forced into the moulds rather than poured. The heating of the soap mixture allows the soap to be used immediately after solidifying- reducing the manufacturing period considerably for the soap-maker. However, the applied heat destroys the beneficial qualities of the oils by destroying the natural oil acids.
Hot Processed soaps can be identified by their opaque and slightly globular texture.
By using this manufacturing method, the soap-maker is required to be registered with NICNAS in Australia.
MELT & POUR METHOD
The melt & pour method uses either soap pellets or soap blocks that are purchased from a commercial soap manufacturer. They are therefore generally based on a highly processed, petrochemical formed soap. The purchased soap form is then heated and melted, and various ingredients (natural herbs, goat milk powders, colour, fragrance, essential oils etc) are added to the soap mixture.
Because of this ‘handling’ of the mixture, the resultant soap is technically allowed to be termed ‘handmade’, but it is no better in quality than the basic commercially produced soap purchased.
Melt & Pour soaps can be readily identified by their usually decorative appearance- either being highly coloured, fragranced, and sometimes transparent or having gimmicky forms. This method also allows the soap-maker to not be registered with NICNAS- the Government Department that soap-making is regulated by in Australia- as they are technically not the manufacturer of the soap product.
COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED SOAP
Most commercially produced soaps are technically synthetic detergent bars. They are generally manufactured from synthesized petrochemicals- with numerous buffers and preservatives added to achieve various qualities of hardness, lather etc. More chemicals are added to hasten the processing time. Look at the ingredients listed on the packaging- if you can’t pronounce it, we doubt that it is desirable to be used on the skin. Ingredients are required to be listed in descending order by percentage of content. Natural additives usually appear low on the listing- indicating minimal content, and will therefore have very little impact in the formulation.
We have done a comprehensive analysis of the ingredients of most commercial soaps- clearly identifying what all the ingredients represent or their purpose. This analysis is available to peruse to anyone visiting us at Village Life Markets- prepare to be alarmed. The petrochemical cocktail contained in one popularly promoted brand as being a moisturising “beauty cream bar” is incredibly alarming- containing 26 ingredients. This soap currently achieves 22% of commercial soap sales around the world.
Again, ilo ORGANICS believes that informed people make informed decisions. Ilo ORGANICS handcrafted soaps contain 3 or more natural organic ingredients only, to gently cleanse and nurtue the skin. There are no chemicals, colourings or fragrances added.
COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED BODY WASHES & LIQUID SOAP
Most commercially produced body washes are made from petrochemicals, similarly as to commercial soap. They could be more aptly termed ‘body detergents’.
Due to successful marketing campaigns, they have achieved escalating sales in recent years- now holding 80% of market sales. Many companies have now ceased production of soap. Naming rights to some historical brands have been sold to companies in India and Asia. Check the labels for country of manufacture- it probably won’t be what you had assumed historically any more.
Body washes are cheaper for manufacturers to produce, and their successful marketing has misguidedly lead the consumer to believe that body washes are a superior and healthier product. Because of their fluid nature, more preservatives are required to sustain the product. They present a frightening chemical cocktail presented in yet another plastic container. The application of heat is required to manufacture liquid soap. This destroys any of the beneficial qualities in the ingredients.
ilo ORGANICS suggests that you carefully read the ingredients list of body washes. One popular brand promotes that it is “soap free- pH balanced- fragrance free- colour free- paraben free”, yet contains 16 ingredients- most of which are petrochemicals. It also uses a suspected mutagenic neurotoxin as one of its preservatives. This chemical is 100% absorbed through the skin, and banned from use in all other cosmetic products. Its use is allowed in body washes because of minimal skin contact time- but do you really want to risk it?
Again, if you can’t pronounce it, do you really want to use it on your skin?