In the last few
years, there has been a virtual avalanche of so-called "handmade soap" in
the marketplace. Unfortunately many of the offerings are not real,
handmade soap from scratch. Often these bars are simply "Melt &
Pour" bases that have been melted down, dyed, scented and/or decorated.
These bars are usually transparent but, to further confuse the matter, they
can also be opaque. To make matters worse, the consumer is often
misled by advertising hype, from the salesperson or from text on a website,
that 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 come from "pure mountain berries," etc., etc..
These statements are misinformation.
In our opinion, the most serious
misinformation is the "my soap contains no lye" statement, inferring that
other soap does 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 thing of
which to be aware is that -- if a product is soap and/or if it
contains glycerin, then, by the chemical nature of soap and glycerin, it has
definitely been made by using sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali.
If the salesperson or advertising material on a website infers that there
has been no lye used in the manufacture of their product, then you can be
assured that what you are purchasing is a detergent bar -- which, for many
people, is extremely drying. If the vendor declares 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 they produced by simply melting down a
pre-made commercial base. They most definitely did not make the bar
With so much misinformation
in the marketplace, how then can a consumer be certain that they are
actually buying skin-loving handmade soap from scratch? The best way
is to question your potential vendor. I can guarantee that a real
handmade soap from scratch soapmaker will be more then happy to describe
their process to you. Here a few possible questions to get you
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 from scratch. Although the bar
they are vending may be pretty or smell nicely, you will probably find that
for skin care, you will prefer a real "handmade from scratch" bar of
Leslie's Garden Handcrafted Soaps
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