Adventures in Soap Making – Part 1

0489460D-4EA9-4F63-860E-A939371B1A94Is anyone else like me, you see a craft and you just have to try it?  No?  Hmm, well I guess I’m in the minority. 

Over the years I have explored many types of crafts from the traditional counted cross stich and knitting to the slightly more unusual like basket weaving, stained glass and hot glass to the downright out of the mainstream like chain mail (I made jewelry not armor but the same process just on a smaller scale). 

My latest endeavor is soap making.  And me being me I didn’t start with the traditional melt and pour soap that you can get in kits at the craft store.  Oh no, I jumped directly into making cold process soap!  For those that may not know, I didn’t until I started this adventure, much of what we use today is not, in fact, soap. 

I know, blew my mind too when I came across that fact. 

True soap is a mixture of fat or oil and an alkali (usually sodium hydroxide commonly called lye) and water.  The chemical reaction between these items is called saponification which results in soap.  Soap made in this manner must sit, or cure, for a few weeks to allow excess water to evaporate and make a harder bar.  Only soap made in this way can be labeled as soap.  Check your labels, if it doesn’t specifically say “soap” but instead is called a cleansing bar, a body bar, a beauty bar, body wash or something else it isn’t soap but rather a synthetic detergent product.  Laundry detergent or dish “soap” also fall into the synthetic detergent designation. According to the FDA there are very few true soaps on the market today.  

So how does true soap work if it doesn’t have all the chemicals and additives of detergent products? 

Simply put soap has the ability to mix with the oil and dirt on your skin, trapping it and making possible to remove the dirt layer.  As a person lathers with soap, the soap latches onto the dirt and germs and rinses them away. 

True soap doesn’t kill microbes, but rinses them off the skin and down the drain.  In a recent study sponsored by ABC News, numerous products were tested as to efficiency, and true soap ranked right up there with hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soap.  In fact, true soap ranked better than alcohol-based sanitizer.  Plus the FDA has advised consumers not to use anti-bacterial “soap” because it assist in creating microbes that are increasingly immune to agents used to kill them.

So now that you know what soap is, and is not, let the adventure begin!  Stay tuned for Part II ….

Tammy Ely, Drafting Coordinator, Probate Coordinator and Funding Coordinator

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