Soap is made by mixing lye and
water with fats or oil. Through a complex chemical reaction lye which
is also called sodium hydroxide (a base) converts Fats or Oil (an acid)
to soap. This process is called saponification. When oil or
fats (acid) come into contact with the lye or sodium hydroxide (base) the
saponification process begins with the lye turning the oil/fat into a completely
new substance that we know as soap. The process changes the two substances
into a thicker and more uniform solution. The point at which the
solution begins to thicken is called a trace. Any oils/fats
or other ingredients added at this point will not be substantially converted
and will basically remain in the soap in their original form. At
the trace stage the soap can be poured into molds where it will continue
to harden. The chemical reaction will continue for about 3 weeks
at which time the soap is hard and ready to use.
The process that the home soapmaker
will use is referred to as "cold process soapmaking". Even though
it is called a cold process, heat is required for the chain reaction to
take place. This heat is provided by the chain reaction of the water
and the lye and their incorporation into the oil or fat. (You will
notice that when the lye is poured into the water it heats up immediately)
Stirring the oil/fat/lye mixture helps this process to continue and to
How Soap Cleans
Soap cleans by acting as an agent
between water and dirt. Soap allows the water to wet the surface
that is being cleaned better. For example, you have heard of water
off a ducks back. Soapy water tends to soak into the surface being
cleaned therefore allowing the water to wash away dirt. In addition,
soap grabs dirt and connects it to the water. Soap basically
grabs dirt or grease and allow water in to wash it away. This may
be an over simplification of the process but it is accurate.
Soap does more than just clean.
The soap you make using this online guide will contain at least 25% pure
glycerin. Glycerin draws moisture to the skin, soothing and lubricating
it's cells. Most soap sold in stores has had it's glycerin removed and
sold back to the consumer in other skin care products. Also, most store
soaps are actually petrochemical-based detergents, which are good cleansers
but are harsh on the skin.
Lye soap has been around for
quite a while for one major reason; it's simple and it works. When properly
made it has some wonderful characteristics. Here are some of those
characteristics as well as some other good reasons to make your own soap
1. Lye soap is gentle.
2. The quality of soap that is
made at home can easily surpass store bought soap for considerably less
3. With homemade soap you get
exactly what you want. You can scent, color or make the bars all
natural if that is your preference.
4. Depending on the ingredients
used, home made soap bars can easily outlast their commercial counterparts.
5. Lye soaps have a 'creaminess'
that just can't be duplicated by any of the soaps you find in stores. Lye
soap is wonderful on your skin. The making of lye soap causes it to produce
a large amount of natural glycerin as a by-product. This is stripped off
in commercial bar soap production and sold for other commercial uses like
lotions, but in homemade soaps the glycerin is left in the soap.
6. Lye soap can be used to clean
just about everything. . There's nothing you can't use it on. By the way,
ever get engine grease on your hands while working on a car? Give lye soap
a try! Saddle soap is simply lye soap, so it's good for leather too.
7. Soapmaking is fun and creative.
Bars of custom soap make great gifts for friends and family.
8. If you wish you can produce
soap for profit. Soapmaking is a good barterable skill which can easily
be turned into a profitable business.