"What soap do you use?"
"How did you get started making soap?"
"Will I pass my drug test if I use the Lavender Poppy soap?"
These are just a few questions I get asked on a regular basis. Well not the drug test one, that was only twice. Just to clear that up, you would only fail the drug test if you ate the poppy seeds out of the soap, which I don't recommend, for obvious reasons. Unless you are stranded in a car for a week with no food and you are faced with eating your jacket or the soap which in that case I still kinda advise against it. See, aren't you glad you started reading this blog post? Some forth coming soap knowledge mixed with bad advice on what to do in fictitious survival situations.
Now to the most asked question that always come up, and rightfully so, "how do you make soap, anyways?". Making soap is fun, precise and a little dangerous, so naturally I love it. I am basically a soap nerd, I could talk about soap and the process all day but I promise to try and make this as brief and information filled as possible.
Short history of soap:
2800 B.C. - The Babylonians boiled together animal fats and ashes (ashes aka potash, which is a term given to a mineral salt that contains potassium in a soluble form.)
1550 B.C.- The Egyptians start mixing together vegetable oils with wood ash.
300 AD- Arabs start making soap with added aromatic oils (essential oils).
1700 AD- Europeans become the hipsters of soap making and replace vegetable oil with olive oil, because let's be honest just using vegetable oil is just so 1550 B.C.
1725 AD- Woman in the USA start making soap with lye. Meaning modern day soap making begins!
Now for the process of basic soap making!
It starts with a lye and distilled water mixture. Before I go any further, let me also clear this up, all soap contains lye, and if someone tells you their soap doesn't contain lye then they are not being truthful to you. I know that lye seems scary, and it is pretty dangerous, but the fact is that lye is a basic salt, and basic as in it has a pH of 14, but without lye, soap would only be a bowl of oils. So, with that out of the way, lets recap, first step weighing, mixing and cooling the lye and water mixture. The second step is to mix together a blend of skin nurturing oils depending on the amount of lye and water mixture so the soap will come out with the perfect pH to clean the skin (which is between 7-10).
Let us talk oils for a second, every soap maker is different, and every soap maker has a different blend they like to use. That is why no two handmade soaps are the same, and it is important to find ones that work best for your skin needs. I will give you a break down of the oils I love. First, olive oil, all Good JuJu soaps are made with 70% percent olive oil because it is great for all skin types, and deeply moisturizing. Second is coconut oil, besides also being amazing for all skin types it is what gives soap it's lather. This is why Good JuJu soaps make a big rich lather, that I personally can not get enough of! Coming up last but not least is vegetable oil, a light blend of grapeseed and safflower, both light great smelling oils. Also, depending on the purpose of the soap some are super fatted and some are not. Super fatted means that you calculate out a lye discount so that basically some soaps can be milder than others. For example Good JuJu Carrot and Sweet potato soap is the most mild soap I make (designed for extremely fragile/aging skin). It is super fatted with shea butter, vitamin E oil (which are in almost all of Good JuJu soaps) as well as cocoa butter!
Ok now back to the process. After everything is weighed, mixed and cooled this is when the lye mixture is mixed with the oil mixture and hand mixed until it reaches a trace. A trace in soap making, simply put, means when the oils and lye water have emulsified. At this point is when essential oils/any additives are added.
The process of saponification! The best part of soap making! Science wise the Saponification process is when triglycerides in fat/oil react with aqueous NaOH or KOH and are converted into soap. In not science terms this is when the oils bring down the pH of the lye to a semi-neutral point so it is good to clean skin!
Lastly after soap goes through a resting/setting period of 24 hours in molds it can then be cut into bars and set out on a drying rack for 4-6 weeks so it can continue to cure!
Now that you know the basic process of soap making, let me quickly tell you why it works, and why it is more superior than detergent soap, or drug store soap.
The reason handmade soap is awesome and better for your skin as a whole is because it actually cleans dirty and oil from your skin surface without stripping away your skins natural oils. Basically when grease and dirt is mixed with soapy water, the soap molecules arrange themselves into tiny clusters called micelle.
The hydrophilic (water-loving) part of the soap molecules sticks to the water and points outwards, forming the outer surface of the micelle.
The hydrophobic (oil-loving) parts stick to the oil and trap oil in the center where it can't come into contact with the water, with the oil now in the center, the micelle is soluble to water. Now as the soapy water is rinsed off the dirt and oil go with it!
And there you have it folks, soap in one quick blog post! Also, quickly if you ever get on Jeopardy/Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and are asked a soap question and get it right because of this blog post please give me a shout out. I love game shows, and it would make my life, thanks in advance.
Love and gratitude,