Q. What is Soap Made of?
Soap is the result of a chemical process called saponification. Historically, Soap was first made by leaching Alkali from wood ash and saponifying animal fat with the leachate. During World War I, requirement for cleansing agents sky rocketed. But the raw materials for making soap were meager. So, German scientists created a new form of soap by using synthetic compounds and as a result detergents were born which are still used in commercial soaps.
But handmade luxury soaps continued to be made by the traditional saponification process and are still made the same way, although, animal fats have been replaced by nourishing vegetable oils.
At Handmadness we use all natural ingredients to the maximum possible extent. Our soaps are made entirely by good old saponification of fats (Vegetable Oils) by Alkali (Sodium hydroxide). We do not add any detergent to the soap base.
Q. Why Handmade soaps melt easily when exposed to moisture / why my soap is so soft?
Contrary to the Store bought popular soap brands handmade soaps contain glycerine (glycerol), which is a byproduct of saponification. Glycerine has been used as a moisturiser since long before the commercial moisturisers came into existence. The humectant properties of glycerine which are responsible for keeping your skin moisturised are also responsible for making the handmade soaps soft. Glycerine tends to trap and retain moisture. This keeps your skin from drying and it unfortunately also keeps the soap from drying out fast. In store bought soaps, glycerol is removed during the factory process and bottled up and sold as the commercial Glycerine. For this reason, they tend to dry the skin.
Q. Why are handmade soaps expensive?
Handmade soaps are not easily available in stores because they are not manufactured at a bulk level in factories with hundreds of workers and machines. The makers of handmade soaps are few individuals who put equal effort, love and care in creation of every single bar of their soap. Soaping is more a work of art for most soap makers.
Hence, there is only a limited quantity that can be produced by each individual soap maker, based on the number of moulds, mould capacity, work hours they commit and the level of intricate details and designs of the soap. In addition to the personal commitment, dedicated soap makers use the best natural ingredients possible for making their handmade soap stand out and deliver upon the expectations of the customers. All these factors combine to increase the cost of a bar of handmade soap.
Q. How do I make my handmade soap last long?
When as a customer you switch from the easily available and low priced store-bought soap to the much inaccessible handmade soap and pay four times the price for it, you wish for it to last longer and not just melt away and end up on the sides of your bathtub or all smeared up on your soap dish. The easiest way to deal with this problem is ‘Soap Savers’.
Soap Savers are small pouches in which you can wrap your soap and use it. these are available in different materials. Some of them gently exfoliate the skin while applying soap.
We at Handmadness have developed soap savers that become a part of the soap and prevent it from melting down in your soap dish. Our Soap Savers are made of soft Muslin cloth which is very gentle on your skin and the good news is it comes free with each bar of soap that you purchase from us.🤗
Q. Do the oils used in making the soap affect the property of the soap? How?
Yes, every oil has a unique property after saponification. Oils like Olive, Canola, Rice bran, Castor oil etc. are known for their high moisturising properties. They cleanse without stripping the skin of its natural oils. But some might not lather, others might render the soap too soft. On the other hand coconut oil has great cleansing properties and it tends to dry the skin but it imparts good lather and makes the bar firm. cocoa butter is again great on the skin and conditions it but tends to crack the soap if used too much in the oil mixture while soaping. As a general rule, combination of Hard oils (oils which solidify under cold temperatures) yields a hard bar of soap and a combination of Soft oils (oils which remain liquid in cold temperatures) yields a soft bar of soap.
Hence, given the property of each soap, recipes are developed after much research, trial and error, to create a bar which is considerably firm, has good lather and feels good on the skin. In addition to oils other ingredients such as vegetable and fruit extracts, clays and minerals added to the soap also affect its properties.
We at Handmadness strive to develop recipes according to the suitability to different skin types and it is advisable to purchase the soap after carefully reading the information provided and not just going by the look of it.
Q. Why Handmade soaps do not have a strong fragrance like store bought soaps?
Handmade Soaps usually use Fragrant oils for the scent. These Fragrant oils are mostly essential oils obtained usually by distillation of herbs, spices or flowers and are highly volatile.
Oils saponify under a harsh environment i.e presence of a very strong Alkali NAOH. Saponification being an exothermic reaction increases the temperature of the soap. The delicate Fragrant oils have to endure this harsh environment to impart that delightful scent to the soap. A small percentage of fragrant oils is lost during the process of soap making and whatever is left continues to fade slowly. Hence, for a handmade soap to smell nice we have to add a good amount of fragrant oil, but not more than the permissible limit as it might sting the skin if used too much. Additionally, more the amount of fragrant oil used more is the price of soap as essential oils are quite expensive.
Store bought soaps smell so strongly and the scent lasts as long as the soap does, because those contain synthetic perfumes which are usually chemical cocktails containing hundreds of ingredients. Synthetic perfumes commonly contain long list of toxic chemical ingredients, including acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, methylene chloride as well as phthalates, stearates, and parabens.
They impart a strong and lasting perfume but are harmful for your health. Numerous studies have found that the most commonly used ingredients in commercial fragrance products can induce mild allergic reactions like headache, sinus inflammation, itchiness, runny nose and can contribute to worse issues such as hormonal imbalances, organ damage, and even cancer.
Q. How to avoid the dangers of toxic perfume chemicals and still smell good?
Avoid most commercial personal care products from big box stores – this is a general piece of advice, considering the fact that most of the very large manufacturers use low quality, toxic ingredients to increase profit margins. Unless you know your favorite product has switched to a more organic label deck, you’re better avoiding them.
If you are unsure about your regular products quality/toxicity, then simply check the labels. Look for any of the chemicals we listed here and also avoid any product with the ingredient “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label. These are usually chemical cocktails containing hundreds of ingredients.
Look for products that contain recognizable, natural ingredients and scent their products with organic essential oils. If you are unsure about an ingredient, look it up before buying.
For those of you who cannot live without lasting fragrance on yourself, the best bet would be Investing in essential oils or Attar.
Q. Does Handmade Soap have a shelf life?
Although handmade soaps usually get better with age, it is recommended that they should be used within 12 months of purchase. Scented soaps should be used within 3 months after removing them from the box. Although the soaps will not be “spoiled” after that time, you may notice some changes as natural soap ages. Some natural colours may fade over time and the scents from pure natural essential oils will fade over time. Some discoloured spots might appear on the soap. But these are just aesthetic concerns, the Soaps are safe for using, in fact older the soap the better cured and firm it is.
Q. Why Handmadness does not make translucent/ transparent soaps?
The transluscent/transparent soaps that many soap makers sell under the name of ‘Glycerine Soap’ are technically called ‘Melt and Pour’ soaps. By default all Soaps contain Glycerine as explained above. These soaps are usually made from pre-made Soap base, easily available in the market.
Some Handmade soap makers make their own transparent soap base by ‘Hot process’. Which involves cooking the soap ingredients together. Melt and Pour soap incorporates synthetic substances, which may range from foaming agents and alcohol-based emulsifiers to solvents, these chemical elements enable Melt and Pour soap to liquefy in order that it may be formed into the preferred design. Additional Glycerine is added to counter the dryness that these ingredients might cause. Hence the name ‘Glycerine soaps’.
At Handmadness we believe in making everything as natural as possible hence we decided to stick to cold process soap making which gives us the freedom to make our own soap bases the way we like without additional synthetic substances.
We makes ‘natural soap’ our USP and natural soap is what Handmadness ensures. The only chemical that we use in our soaps is Sodium Hydroxide commonly known as caustic soda or lye, without which there cannot be a soap🤓.
Why are Parabens, Sulphates, Triclosan, Phthalates commonly found in soaps harmful?
Parabens are commonly used in soaps as they prevent the growth of micro-organisms in the products and increase their shelf life. But Parabens have properties that mimic oestrogen and hence have been linked with increased risk of breast cancers.
Another common toxic beauty ingredient found in soaps is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). It’s found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products because it acts as foaming agent. but SLS’s are connected with irritation of the skin, lungs, and eyes. When it combines with other chemicals, the mixture can form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. Aside from causing cancer, this combo can also lead to Kidney and respiratory damage.
Many soaps also contain triclosan, an antimicrobial chemical that is known to disrupt the endocrine system, including thyroid and reproductive hormones. It’s also a known skin irritant. Studies have shown that triclosan can make bacteria antibiotic resistant, which poses a great risk to our future health. Triclosan is also commonly found in deodorant and toothpaste.
Phthalates, a family of industrial chemicals used as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Recent studies in human populations confirm some of the adverse impacts on male reproductive tract development, sperm abnormalities and lower testosterone levels. Recent studies also show that prenatal exposure to phthalates is associated with adverse impacts on neurodevelopment, including lower IQ, and problems with attention and hyperactivity and poorer social communication.