Soap Making FAQ

Why MELT and POUR?

Why Melt and Pour? (as know as hot process method)

Glycerin soap is often transparent, with ribbons of bright color and a nice slippery feel. Cold process soap is always opaque, usually with more natural color and a creamy, often rich, lather. Beneath physical appearances, what really is the difference?

Cold Process Soap

Cold process soap is also sometimes called Lye Soap. It is created by mixing lye & water with fats & oils, then mixed briskly. The lye reacts chemically with the oil mixture in a process called saponification, meaning to turn into soap. The batch is said to have reached light trace when it reaches a pudding-like state in which the spoon leaves a brief trail. When trace is reached, scents, colorants and exfoliants can be added. The mixture is stirred more and then poured into molds. The batch continues to heat and complete saponifying in the molds. In 24-48 hours, the soap can be turned out of the molds and sliced into bars. The bars then must cure for about a month before they can be used. This allows the bars to harden, making them last longer, and ensures that the bar has completed the chemical process.

If the ratio of lye to oils is too high, then the soap will be what is called lye heavy. Lye heavy soap is generally crumbly and cannot be used on skin because it will cause a chemical burn. If the ratio of lye to oils is too low, the soap is said to be superfatted. Some of the oil stays in the soap, unmodified by lye. While it is generally a good practice to superfat soap (usually 3-7%) to ensure that no lye is ever left in the soap; too much and the soap will be greasy and have a drastically shortened shelf life.

One of the reasons that fewer people make cold process soap than melt and pour soap is the fact that lye is a very dangerous substance. It’s very important not to get lye on your skin when making soap, and you must use containers and utensils that are reserved exclusively for your soap-making projects. It can eat through metals and damage surfaces. And if not mixed properly, lye can explode.

Melt and pour soap is a good way to get started in soap making, and it allows some flexibility in the finished product. Furthermore you can make your soap to be unique or have a specific combination of ingredients like cold process soap. Either method can be used to produce beautiful, sweet smelling soaps for yourself, to give as gifts, or to sell.

Benefits of Handmade Soap over Mass Produced Soap

By Kristine Reeves
Source:, 2009

It is true that sometimes handmade natural soap as well as mass produced soap may appear similar, though this is not the case. It is a false notion that the ingredients used in the mass produced soaps are natural and harmless. Some very famous brands of soaps use chemicals which are of inferior quality and may prove harmful for the skin. Some strong chemicals like Laureth Sulphate(SLES), Sodium Lauryl Sulphate(SLS) and parabens or chemical preservatives are also used in production of bulk bath soaps and body products.

Handmade Soap: Glycerin is obtained by the saponification procedure and offers superb moisturizing effect. It is a bi product obtained naturally. Glycerin is expensive and it is added to body products like skin ointments and skin creams, which would fetch a higher price. The commercial soap manufacturers conveniently eliminate glycerin when manufacturing soap. Handmade soap has an advantage in the sense that glycerin is not removed from the soap and hence it lends a moisturizing effect.

Synthetic fragrances are obtained in laboratories by different processes and they are commonly used in soaps. It would be definitely beneficial if essential oils which are naturally obtained from plants, trees, herbs and flowers are added to soaps. These essential oils contain healing and curative properties in addition to the aromatic fragrance. When such essential oils are added to these soaps, common skin disorders like acne, eczema and psoriasis can be treated. The anti fungal and anti bacterial properties of these oils lends a soothing and cooling effect to the skin and a variety of other healing properties.

Most of the mass produced soaps add fillers like SLS for adding bulk. Parabens are also used for lending long shelf lives to these soaps. As compared to them, handmade natural soap has liberal amounts of Vitamin E oil, wheat germ oil. These oils have anti-oxidants in high amounts which lend a longer shelf life.

Handmade soaps have dollops of natural oils like the jojoba oil which lends a balancing effect to the skin complexion. Synthetic colors are not added to handmade soaps. Natural colors like blue color are obtained from lavender. Natural coloring techniques are used which are available in natural for lending color to the soaps. These colors are skin friendly and have no side effects absolutely. Even though they have some amount of hassles involved, it is better to go in for something natural that would not harm your skin. Remember that your skin has to radiate a healthy look for you to feel and appear confident.

Mass-Produced Soap: Ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, parabens and Sodium Laureth Sulphate are added to these soaps so as to fill these soaps. These chemicals may not be quite safe for your skin.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): SLS is cheaply available filler which lends bulk to the soaps and is widely used in the cosmetic industry. They are used in body products like soap, toothpaste and shampoo. It helps in lending a lathering effect and also helps in removal of oil very quickly. Hence, it is used lavishly, when it comes to bulk production of soap and soap products.

SLS can be harmful to eyes, especially if your eyes are very sensitive. It also results in mouth ulcers for ultra sensitive tongues, when used in toothpastes. SLS lends a drying effect to the hair and skin. It is advised that people with sensitive and dry skin avoid products containing SLS. It is recommended that SLS free and unperfumed soaps be used for babies, since infants have ultra sensitive skin.

Parabens: These harmful chemicals are quickly absorbed and then stored in the body. It has been researched that parabens are also found in cancerous tissues. The long term effects can be disastrous and it is advised that industries stop using these in their production.