We see a lot of soaps on the market of personal care products and advertised as natural, with pure materials of plant origin, etc.
But are they all really handmade with all the beneficial properties that natural soap has?
Let us first describe the process of making a handmade soap and the difference will be understood very quickly.
The production process of handmade soap
As you may know, a handmade natural soap is produced by the chemical reaction between oils and baking soda called saponification. This reaction can take place at ambient temperature conditions (cold method) or at higher temperatures (hot method). During saponification, natural glycerin is produced, which is particularly emollient for the skin. In manufactured soaps glycerin is removed because it is a highly marketable material and is used in other preparations.
So, the first step is to choose the combination of oils that we will use and which, depending on their properties, will give us the soap that will have specific characteristics, in terms of foaming, softness, the degree of cleansing of our skin, etc.
For example, a face soap should have emollient properties and ingredients that do not exfoliate the skin too much from its natural oils, but at the same time penetrate the pores and remove sebum, dust and dirt from the skin. air pollution. If the soap is aimed at acne prone skin, the addition of various clays (pink, green, etc., activated carbon) helps, which contribute to a more astringent effect.
Similarly, a body soap may have a less emollient and more cleansing formula, or it may have exfoliating ingredients (such as poppy seeds, dried oats, sugar, salt, ground almonds, apricots, etc.).
So the first stage of recipe design is very important.
The producer must then have knowledge of the chemical properties of the oils he will use. What is the saponification rate of each oil, which determines the required caustic soda to achieve complete saponification without leaving soda residues in the soap. This point is very important, because if the proportions are not calculated correctly we will have a soap that can have caustic soda residues and is also dangerous for the skin.
The presence of non-soaped caustic soda makes the soap rough and very dehydrating on the skin.
After the finalization of the recipe, the production follows, which includes the precise measurement, weighing of the raw materials and their stirring at an intense rate in order to achieve the saponification reaction as perfectly as possible.
A properly prepared handmade soap must be fully bound to caustic soda and in 35-40 days be fully cured and safe to use.
Here we note something very important: in natural saponification the glycerin produced remains in the soap and thus makes it very beneficial for the skin, despite its high pH (~ 8-9).
In industrial soaps, glycerin is removed mechanically and no matter how much they shout naturally, in fact it is not at all! In addition, to reduce production costs, poor quality oils and cheap aromatics are used to make the result attractive.
Hence the very low prices you find in supermarket soaps that should not fool those who know. So you buy natural handmade soap from good producers and you will immediately see the difference!