Did you know that many commercial brands of soap contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients? In addition to being unnatural, they also often leave your skin dry and itchy. Many products are often tested on animals or otherwise not the best choice if you care about the planet. Large companies may be using palm oil that is not harvested in a sustainable fashion, which destroys rain forest habitat and affects endangered animals like the orangutan. Other ingredients such as shea butter, may be obtained in ways that do not support fair trade practices and do nothing to support the indigenous people that harvest these ingredients.
I had been interested in making soap for awhile, as I try hard to avoid unnatural ingredients, chemicals, or anything that may have an adverse effect on the environment. But I was a bit nervous about the whole process as I wanted to make it from scratch, not use a pre-made soap base. I began doing research on the best oils and processes to use. I decided to try cold process soap, which is a process by which a combination of oils are heated to a certain temperature (usually around 110 degrees) and combined with distilled water and sodium hydroxide (lye). It is the way soap was made in the pioneer days, although most typically lard would have been used rather than vegetable oils. When the oil and lye water are mixed together, they create a chemical reaction called saponification. The oil binds with the water, and the soap hardens. This process can take up to six weeks. As the soap hardens, or cures, the lye completely dissipates, and you are left with a beautiful hard bar of soap with naturally occurring glycerin and moisturizing oils. Different oils and butters provide different skin moisturizers. Everything must be measured exactly and mixed very carefully for the soap to cure properly.
I love to work with essential oils so most of my soaps are scented, but I also create unscented soaps. I have many that are free from palm oil, but if I do use palm oil it is only from suppliers that are certified members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization that supports sustainable palm oil production. I use organic oils as much as possible, and source my ingredients responsibly. Of course all my soaps are completely cruelty free and not tested on animals. I am busy making soap now and will some available for sale by the end of September.