Why is there lye in your soap?
All soap is made with lye. A lye solution and oils are combined, and a chemical reaction takes place called saponification. The lye and the oils undergo a chemical change and form a salt that we commonly know as soap.
If you had high school chemistry, you may remember that when you mix a base with an acid, you form a neutral. This is exactly what happens in the soap making reaction. The base (lye) mixes with the acid (oil or fat) to form a neutral (soap).
There is no lye left in the soap after the saponification process is completed.
I have bars of soap that don’t list lye as an ingredient. How is this possible if all soap is made with lye?
Companies often like to disguise lye so that it doesn't appear on the label. But since all soap is made with lye, to be true soap it has to be in there in some form, so you might see words like sodium cocoate or sodium palmitate. These are consumer-friendly ways of saying, "lye that has reacted with coconut oil or palm oil." Another way would be listing the ingredients as saponified coconut oil or saponified palm oil. We prefer to be transparent with our labels and think that taking the extra step to explain lye is the more honest way.
What process do you use for making soap?
My soaps are made with the cold process. Cold process soap retains all the natural glycerin in the soap, unlike most commercial bars. Glycerin is a natural three-carbon liquid sugar which forms the backbone of fats and oils. Fats and oils are, in fact, triglycerides consisting of one molecule of glycerin combined with three molecules of fatty acids. In the cold process, oils are heated to a desired temperature, a lye-water solution is added with stirring, and the oils are converted into a sodium salt (remember soap is a salt) of a fatty acid and glycerine. Glycerine is a natural emollient and is often removed from commercial bars since it is a valuable ingredient for the cosmetics industry.
How does soap work?
Soap is made up of molecules with two different properties. One end is hydrophilic and one end is lipophilic. The lipophilic (fat-loving) head of a soap attaches to the dirt while the hydrophilic (water-loving) tail attracts and absorbs water. When grease or oil are mixed with a soap-water solution, the soap molecules work as a bridge between water molecules and oil molecules. This means that while oil (which attracts dirt) doesn't naturally mix with water, soap can suspend oil/dirt in such a way that it can be removed. This is how soap cleans your hands - it causes drops of grease and dirt to be pulled off your hands and suspended in water. These drops are then washed away when you rinse with water.
How are your products scented?
I scent all my products with only natural essential oils. Essentials oils are concentrated liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from the plants they are extracted from, usually by steam distillation or cold pressing. They can by very costly since many essential oils require hundreds of pounds of herbs to produce a single pound of essential oil. In contrary to synthetic fragrance oils they retain the properties attributed to the plant it was extracted from. Often people who react to soaps and detergent actually react to the synthetic fragrances or colorants in it. I will never use any synthetic fragrances or colorants in my products.
How do you color your products?
My soap is colored with only natural herbs and botanicals such as turmeric, charcoal, indigo, kelp, etc. Even though many synthetic colorants are approved for the cosmetic and food industry, I do not think they are necessary to craft beautiful soap, and I want to keep my products natural and pure, so I stick with only ingredients you can find in nature.
Do you use preservatives for your products?
None of my products will ever contain any chemically-man-made preservatives. Ever. I let nature do its work and only use natural antioxidants like essential oils, vitamin E or rosemary oil extract. This may give my soap a shorter shelf life but in my opinion gives your skin a longer one, and that is worth much more.