• Soap 101 Soap 101

    Posted on by Jackson Fung

    Many customers have a common misconception of lye, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, or caustic soda of being a harmful ingredient in soap.  The answer is NO ! All real soap are made out of oils/butters/fats/grease, lye and water.  Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide are mixed with water to create the lye.  Therefore, No Lye = No Soap !  No lye remain in the finished product after saponification, and therefore handmade soaps are safe for the skin.

    Read the ingredient label, and you will find these similar terms simply meaning oils mixed with lye,

    • saponified oils: oils that are mixed with sodium hydroxide and water (lye).
    • sodium olivate (oils): the generic name for the mixture of olive oil with sodium hydroxide and water (lye).

    In the old days when sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide were not exist, people use potash to make lye to make soap.

    Conventional Liquid Soaps

    Technically, they are detergents because they do not use lye.  They are mass produced in factory by mixing chemical ingredients such as surfactant, glycerin, emulsifier, preservative, foaming agent, colorant, artificial fragrance, stabilizer, and thickening agent.  They are less gentle to the skin.

    Conventional Soap Bars

    Most conventional soap bars are mass produced using soap noodles.  Soap noodles are hot processed pre-made soap that are in the form of noodles, they are made out of vegetable oils / animal fats, lye, and water.  To increase efficiency manufacturers would purchase soap noodles and blend with other ingredients such as oils, glycerin, preservatives, fragrance, clay, herbs, exfoliant, and color to make the final product.  Most soap noodles are from Malaysia and Indonesia, there are laundry type, toilet type, and multi-purpose type soap noodles.  There are also different grades of soap noodles, you can get really cheap soap noodles containing many harmful artificial chemicals that is very harsh on the skin, and you can get very high quality organic soap noodles containing only saponified vegetable oils or animal fats.

    Cold Process & Hot Process Soap

    Most artisan soap makers nowadays are using either the cold process method or the hot process method to make their natural soap bars.  Both methods make great soap, but there is a difference.  The main difference is the temperature.

    In the cold process method, the oils, lye, and water are blended to a trace under controlled temperature.  It is believed that low temperature can retain some of the natural nutrients from the oils.  The cold process method allows the soap maker to create a very artisan soap.  However, the cold process method requires at least 24 hours to undergo the saponification process, and 4 to 6 weeks of curing before one can use the soap.  There is a drawback for cold process method when it comes to superfatting.

    In the hot process method, the oils, lye, and water are cooked in a double boiler until saponified.  The temperature forces the saponification process to take place in a short period of time.  You can use the soap in a few days, and have better control in superfatting.  The drawback is you can hardly make artisan soap because the mixture is so thick.

    Melt & Pour Soap

    Melt & Pour Soap differs from Hot Process & Cold Process soap making, no soap is created during the process because a glycerin soap base is purchased from from the market.  The process is easy without the handling of lye.  Simply melting the soap base and blending it with fragrance, color, and other addictives.  Most transparent and colorful looking soap bars are made using these glycerin soap base.

    Using Potash, The Ancient Method

    Using potash to make soap is an ancient method when sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide were not exist. The African Black Soap we are selling is still using this old method (probably they don't have access to sodium hydroxide nor potassium hydroxide).  Amazingly, this method produces very unique soap, the soap is soft, chunky, and contains remaining of ashes, but it does help relief skin problems.  We have many many good compliments for African Black Soap from our customers.

    What is Potash? Potash in general is burnt ashes of woods or plants.  In African Black Soap, they burn the cocoa pods, and plantain peels to make the potash.  The potash, oils, and water are cooked and then the soap is separated from the lye water.

    Many customers have a common misconception of lye, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, or caustic soda of being a harmful ingredient in soap.  The answer is NO ! All real soap are made out of oils/butters/fats/grease, lye and water.  Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide are mixed with water to create the lye.  Therefore, No Lye = No Soap !  No lye remain in the finished product after saponification, and therefore handmade soaps are safe for the skin.

    Read the ingredient label, and you will find these similar terms simply meaning oils mixed with lye,

    • saponified oils: oils that are mixed with sodium hydroxide and water (lye).
    • sodium olivate (oils): the generic name for the mixture of olive oil with sodium hydroxide and water (lye).

    In the old days when sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide were not exist, people use potash to make lye to make soap.

    Conventional Liquid Soaps

    Technically, they are detergents because they do not use lye.  They are mass produced in factory by mixing chemical ingredients such as surfactant, glycerin, emulsifier, preservative, foaming agent, colorant, artificial fragrance, stabilizer, and thickening agent.  They are less gentle to the skin.

    Conventional Soap Bars

    Most conventional soap bars are mass produced using soap noodles.  Soap noodles are hot processed pre-made soap that are in the form of noodles, they are made out of vegetable oils / animal fats, lye, and water.  To increase efficiency manufacturers would purchase soap noodles and blend with other ingredients such as oils, glycerin, preservatives, fragrance, clay, herbs, exfoliant, and color to make the final product.  Most soap noodles are from Malaysia and Indonesia, there are laundry type, toilet type, and multi-purpose type soap noodles.  There are also different grades of soap noodles, you can get really cheap soap noodles containing many harmful artificial chemicals that is very harsh on the skin, and you can get very high quality organic soap noodles containing only saponified vegetable oils or animal fats.

    Cold Process & Hot Process Soap

    Most artisan soap makers nowadays are using either the cold process method or the hot process method to make their natural soap bars.  Both methods make great soap, but there is a difference.  The main difference is the temperature.

    In the cold process method, the oils, lye, and water are blended to a trace under controlled temperature.  It is believed that low temperature can retain some of the natural nutrients from the oils.  The cold process method allows the soap maker to create a very artisan soap.  However, the cold process method requires at least 24 hours to undergo the saponification process, and 4 to 6 weeks of curing before one can use the soap.  There is a drawback for cold process method when it comes to superfatting.

    In the hot process method, the oils, lye, and water are cooked in a double boiler until saponified.  The temperature forces the saponification process to take place in a short period of time.  You can use the soap in a few days, and have better control in superfatting.  The drawback is you can hardly make artisan soap because the mixture is so thick.

    Melt & Pour Soap

    Melt & Pour Soap differs from Hot Process & Cold Process soap making, no soap is created during the process because a glycerin soap base is purchased from from the market.  The process is easy without the handling of lye.  Simply melting the soap base and blending it with fragrance, color, and other addictives.  Most transparent and colorful looking soap bars are made using these glycerin soap base.

    Using Potash, The Ancient Method

    Using potash to make soap is an ancient method when sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide were not exist. The African Black Soap we are selling is still using this old method (probably they don't have access to sodium hydroxide nor potassium hydroxide).  Amazingly, this method produces very unique soap, the soap is soft, chunky, and contains remaining of ashes, but it does help relief skin problems.  We have many many good compliments for African Black Soap from our customers.

    What is Potash? Potash in general is burnt ashes of woods or plants.  In African Black Soap, they burn the cocoa pods, and plantain peels to make the potash.  The potash, oils, and water are cooked and then the soap is separated from the lye water.

    Read more

  • Savon de Marseille Savon de Marseille

    Posted on by Jackson Fung

    Marseille Soap is a traditional soap made with primarily vegetable oil in Marseille, France in the 1300s. The genuine Marseille soap formula contains at least 72% of saponified oil and never contains animal fat.  A genuine Marseille soap is always made with vegetable oils.  It is hypo-allergenic, mild, and moisturizing that it gained popularity around the world. Today, only a very few soap manufacturers in the world are still producing the genuine Savon de Marseille using the traditional method.

    The true "Marseilles" soapmaking method is carried out in large cauldrons with ambient pressure and is made up of various phases which alternate as they complete the full process in about 10 days:

    Mixing: The oils and fats are added to the cauldron, and alkali is added, triggering the soapmaking process.

    Cooking: The mixture is then cooked at a temperature of roughly 100°C during the day and rest at night with constant temperature.

    Separation: The soap is then “washed” with water and sea salt to force any impurities and excess glycerin to the very bottom of the cauldron. The impurities are then drawn out through a tap at the bottom of the cauldron.

    Liquidation: The pure soap floats at the top of the cauldron.

    Concentration: After resting, the soap is pumped into the concentration machine to turn into solid form.

    However, Savon de Marseille is not a registered trade mark, everyone can use the name "Marseille Soap" even it is not made in Marseille nor using the traditional method.  So beware when buy Marseille Soap.

    Recently, only authentic Marseille soaps produced in Marseille are label with this logo. 

    Marseille Soap is a traditional soap made with primarily vegetable oil in Marseille, France in the 1300s. The genuine Marseille soap formula contains at least 72% of saponified oil and never contains animal fat.  A genuine Marseille soap is always made with vegetable oils.  It is hypo-allergenic, mild, and moisturizing that it gained popularity around the world. Today, only a very few soap manufacturers in the world are still producing the genuine Savon de Marseille using the traditional method.

    The true "Marseilles" soapmaking method is carried out in large cauldrons with ambient pressure and is made up of various phases which alternate as they complete the full process in about 10 days:

    Mixing: The oils and fats are added to the cauldron, and alkali is added, triggering the soapmaking process.

    Cooking: The mixture is then cooked at a temperature of roughly 100°C during the day and rest at night with constant temperature.

    Separation: The soap is then “washed” with water and sea salt to force any impurities and excess glycerin to the very bottom of the cauldron. The impurities are then drawn out through a tap at the bottom of the cauldron.

    Liquidation: The pure soap floats at the top of the cauldron.

    Concentration: After resting, the soap is pumped into the concentration machine to turn into solid form.

    However, Savon de Marseille is not a registered trade mark, everyone can use the name "Marseille Soap" even it is not made in Marseille nor using the traditional method.  So beware when buy Marseille Soap.

    Recently, only authentic Marseille soaps produced in Marseille are label with this logo. 

    Read more

  • How Does Soap Work? How Does Soap Work?

    Posted on by Jackson Fung

    Soap is made up of molecules with a “Head” which likes water (hydrophilic) and a “Tail” which hates water (hydrophobic).

    The setup has made soap molecule attach to both water and oil. When water is added to soap, the hydrophilic heads of the molecules stick to the water pointing outward, while the hydrophobic tails grab the oil particles remaining inward. Then the soap molecules structure themselves into circular groups called “micellas”. The oil is trap in the center of the micellas, and the micellas is rinsed away along with the oil.

    *Pictures from Wikidot & Planet Science

    Soap is made up of molecules with a “Head” which likes water (hydrophilic) and a “Tail” which hates water (hydrophobic).

    The setup has made soap molecule attach to both water and oil. When water is added to soap, the hydrophilic heads of the molecules stick to the water pointing outward, while the hydrophobic tails grab the oil particles remaining inward. Then the soap molecules structure themselves into circular groups called “micellas”. The oil is trap in the center of the micellas, and the micellas is rinsed away along with the oil.

    *Pictures from Wikidot & Planet Science

    Read more

  • Cold Process Soap Cold Process Soap

    Posted on by Jackson Fung

    We use the cold process method to make our bar soaps to enhance the preservation of natural nutrients.  The cold process method is known to be more costly, time consuming and produces less.

    The making of our cold process soap:

    During the preparation of each batch of soap, nutrient rich base oils and butters are selected first. Natural spices and earth clays are then added to our formula to provide added skin benefits. Essential oils may also be added to provide aroma and skin benefits. The ingredients are then mixed and poured into the mold after which the soap undergoes saponification. During saponification, lye interacts with oils and fats to produce Glycerin which is a natural skin moisturizer. Commercial soap manufacturers often remove glycerin and sell it at very high profit for use in manufacture of moisturizers and lotions. After production, the soap is left to cure for three to eight weeks to attain a mild pH level appropriate for the skin. The composition of our cold process soaps is as follows:

    • Base oils (Vegetable oils and Butters)
    • Essential oils
    • Botanicals (Spices and Herbs)
    • Additives (Clays, Milks, Grains, Loofah, Seeds, Natural Extracts, Juices, Pumice)
    • Distilled water
    • Sodium hydroxide (used in making solid soap)
    • Potassium hydroxide (used when making liquid soap)

    Sodium Hydroxide (Lye):

    Whether it is commercial soaps or handmade soaps, they are both made with "sodium hydroxide" or "lye". In commercial soaps, "lye" usually appear on ingredient label as sodium cocoate, sodium, palmate, etc., they are just generic name of oil mix with sodium hydroxide.  No lye = no soap, lye is a must inactive ingredient in soap making. We take into consideration the following set of rules while producing our soap bars:

    • No detergents are used.
    • No artificial colorants nor fragrances are used.
    • No harsh synthetic additives are used.

    We use the cold process method to make our bar soaps to enhance the preservation of natural nutrients.  The cold process method is known to be more costly, time consuming and produces less.

    The making of our cold process soap:

    During the preparation of each batch of soap, nutrient rich base oils and butters are selected first. Natural spices and earth clays are then added to our formula to provide added skin benefits. Essential oils may also be added to provide aroma and skin benefits. The ingredients are then mixed and poured into the mold after which the soap undergoes saponification. During saponification, lye interacts with oils and fats to produce Glycerin which is a natural skin moisturizer. Commercial soap manufacturers often remove glycerin and sell it at very high profit for use in manufacture of moisturizers and lotions. After production, the soap is left to cure for three to eight weeks to attain a mild pH level appropriate for the skin. The composition of our cold process soaps is as follows:

    • Base oils (Vegetable oils and Butters)
    • Essential oils
    • Botanicals (Spices and Herbs)
    • Additives (Clays, Milks, Grains, Loofah, Seeds, Natural Extracts, Juices, Pumice)
    • Distilled water
    • Sodium hydroxide (used in making solid soap)
    • Potassium hydroxide (used when making liquid soap)

    Sodium Hydroxide (Lye):

    Whether it is commercial soaps or handmade soaps, they are both made with "sodium hydroxide" or "lye". In commercial soaps, "lye" usually appear on ingredient label as sodium cocoate, sodium, palmate, etc., they are just generic name of oil mix with sodium hydroxide.  No lye = no soap, lye is a must inactive ingredient in soap making. We take into consideration the following set of rules while producing our soap bars:

    • No detergents are used.
    • No artificial colorants nor fragrances are used.
    • No harsh synthetic additives are used.

    Read more

  • Caring Your Soap Bars Caring Your Soap Bars

    Posted on by Jackson Fung

    Unlike conventional soaps which have added preservatives, stablizers, thickeners, emulsifiers, and other agents to pro-long the shelf life and maintain consistency under different environment.  Most handmade soaps are made of a simple mixture of oils and lye, and therefore they are vulnerable to environmental changes such as heat and humidity, extra care should be taken when using handmade soaps:

    • Store the natural soap bars in a dry cool place without exposure to sunlight, humidity, or heat.
    • Ensure the soap is used within six months of its purchase.
    • Ensure your eyes are closed while washing your hair or the face because most handmade soaps do not use ‘Tear Free’ agent.
    • Do not let your soap bars soak in water.
    • Ensure your soap bar is placed on a well-drained soap dish to dry.
    • Any old oil smell or orange spots on the soap bar means it may have turned rancid.

    Unlike conventional soaps which have added preservatives, stablizers, thickeners, emulsifiers, and other agents to pro-long the shelf life and maintain consistency under different environment.  Most handmade soaps are made of a simple mixture of oils and lye, and therefore they are vulnerable to environmental changes such as heat and humidity, extra care should be taken when using handmade soaps:

    • Store the natural soap bars in a dry cool place without exposure to sunlight, humidity, or heat.
    • Ensure the soap is used within six months of its purchase.
    • Ensure your eyes are closed while washing your hair or the face because most handmade soaps do not use ‘Tear Free’ agent.
    • Do not let your soap bars soak in water.
    • Ensure your soap bar is placed on a well-drained soap dish to dry.
    • Any old oil smell or orange spots on the soap bar means it may have turned rancid.

    Read more