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Handmade Soap - How to Choose
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In the past few years, there has been a virtual bubble-bath of so-called "handmade soap" appearing in the marketplace.  Unfortunately many of the offerings are not real, handmade soap, made from scratch.  Often these bars are simply commercial pre-manufactured bases that are melted down, dyed, scented and/or decorated.  These bars are usually transparent but, to further complicate the matter, some pre-manufactured, commercial bases are opaque as well.  To make matters worse, the consumer is sometimes misled by advertising hype to believe that these bars are gentle on the skin because they "contain no lye" or that the base was made by "boiling vegetables" or that some of the ingredients in the base came from "pure mountain berries," etc., etc..  These statements, and others like them, are misinformation.

In our opinion, the most serious misinformation is the "my soap contains no lye" statement, implying that other soaps do contain lye.  The truth is that NO superfatted bar of handmade soap CONTAINS lye. Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is the catalyst that causes saponification -- the chemical reaction that turns fats and oils into soap and glycerin -- but the sodium hydroxide does not remain in the bar because it has reacted with the oils and fats to be chemically changed into soap and glycerin.

 Another important point is that -- if a product IS soap and/or it contains glycerin, then, by the simple truth of the chemical nature of soap and glycerin, it HAS been made by using sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali.  If a salesperson or advertising material implies that there has been no lye used in the manufacture of the product, then it CAN'T be true soap and you can be assured that what you are purchasing is a detergent bar -- which, for many, is drying to the skin.  If someone tells you that they are selling a true soap but that they did not use lye, it only means that they are selling you a product that somebody else made and they are simply melting down a pre-made commercial base.  They did not make the bar from scratch.

With so much misinformation in the marketplace, how then can a consumer be certain that they are actually buying skin-loving real, handmade soap, made from scratch?  The best way is to question your potential vendor.  I can guarantee that a real, handmade soap, made from scratch soapmaker will be more then happy to describe their process to you.  Here are a few possible questions to get you started:

1.  Did you make this bar completely from scratch?

2.  Did you make this bar completely from scratch or did you use a commercial Melt & Pour base to produce your product?

3.  Can you describe the saponification process to me?

If your vendor starts exclaiming that they "used no lye" then run the other way.  You are not getting a real, handmade soap, made from scratch.  Although the bar they are vending may be pretty or have a nice aroma, you will probably find that for skin care, you will prefer a more gentle, moisturizing bar of real, handmade soap, made from scratch.

Real, handmade soap, made from scratch, using sodium hydroxide to start the chemical reaction, is gentle and moisturizing to the skin, has rich, creamy lather, and is hard and longlasting. Your soapmaker will gladly describe to you each and every ingredient found in their bars because they started from scratch and they KNOW what is in them. We, and our made from scratch, real handmade soapmaking colleagues, receive letters and emails from customers thanking us for making such skin-loving bars of soap. So, please, let your skin be your guide and don't let the hype fool you -- ask for real, handmade soap, made from scratch.


luxurious lather ~ silky touch ~ handmade soap inspired by the gifts of the garden


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Updated 04/27/2014