The Truth About Handcrafted Soap
Also known as "handmade soap" or "homemade soap," handcrafted soap is a blend of both science and art. By combining the scientific knowledge of the last 150 years with the artistic creativity of the soapmaker, each bar is safe, luxurious and unique. Handcrafted soap is soap in its true and most pure form.
Handcrafted soap can be made from scratch by the cold or hot process methods or by using a pre-made soap base. The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild recognizes any soap made by these methods to be handcrafted so long as at least 50% of the process is done by hand.
True soaps are the results of a chemical reaction between vegetable or animal fats, water and lye. When combined, they transform into soap and glycerin with no lye remaining in the soap. This reaction is called "Saponification," which literally means "the making of soap."
Handcrafted soapmakers generally pride themselves on the unique recipes they use to create their signature soaps.
Most handcrafted soap makers use food-quality, natural ingredients, starting with a variety a vegetable oils such as olive, coconut, or palm, or they use purified tallow or lard. To these might be added specialized oils, nut butters or seed extracts to bring the desired qualities to the finished bar.
Fragrance oils or plant-based essential oils are added for scent. For color or texture, soapmakers often use cosmetic-grade pigments or dyes, botanicals, herbs, spices or other natural ingredients. For those with sensitivities, many soapmakers also make "simple soap" with no additives or scent.
Besides all of the wonderful ingredients that may be in handcrafted soap, perhaps the biggest advantage of handcrafted soap is in the soapmakers themselves, each of whom invests care and attention to detail into every batch and bar.
When you use a bar of handcrafted soap, you know it was made with the personal touch of a local soapmaker.
What About Glycerin?
Glycerin is a humectant, which means that is attracts and retains moisture on your skin. It is like a natural skin lotion in the soap.
Glycerin is a natural by-product of the soapmaking process. Most commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin from the soap, process it and then sell it to other industries where it is used in pharmaceuticals, foods, cosmetics, and other products.
With handcrafted soaps, glycerin remains in the soap. The end result is mild, pure soap that gently cleanses your skin without being harsh, irritating or drying.
Commercial vs. Handcrafted - What's the Difference?
Commercial soaps are manufactured in large factories (often located overseas) staffed with anonymous employees, using the most economical ingredients. Often they contain some or all synthetic detergents as well as fillers which dilute the actual soap content; most have the glycerin removed.
Handcrafted soaps, on the other hand, are manufactured locally in small batches with the personal oversight and care of the soapmaker. Handcrafted soapmakers use high-quality ingredients are able to add specialty oils to personalize their formulations.
The creative artistry of each handcrafted soapmaker results in soaps that are different and unique, in terms of ingredients, colors, shapes and scents. Consumers enjoy a wide selection of soaps that are not only natural, but functional and beautiful, while supporting the local economy and small business endeavors in their community.
Source: Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, Inc., www.soapguild.org