Did you know that it takes at least 4 weeks for your handmade bar of soap to be ready for sale?
That's right - a whole month! There's a lot of planning, intention, and waiting that is required for handmade soap, and we'd love to explain all of that to you!
Soap making is a lot like baking - you have the option of making it from scratch, or you can use a pre-made base (like a boxed cake)!
At Small Batch Soaps, we make the majority of our soaps using the "from scratch" method. It's called the cold process method, and we prefer it because it gives us complete control over the ingredients that we use.
All cold process soap starts with 3 basic ingredients - a fat (oils & butters), a liquid (water, milk, beer etc.), and sodium hydroxide (aka: lye; necessary for converting those fats into soap).
There are so many different oils and butters to choose from and all of them have different benefits for your skin, and provide different properties to a final bar of soap (eg. hard, bubbly, cleansing, etc.). A soap-maker will choose their oils, and formulate a recipe based on these benefits and properties. At Small Batch Soaps, we have specially formulated our recipes to be moisturizing, nourishing, and cleansing, without over-drying your skin. We use all natural, certified vegan oils and butters.
Once a soap-maker has selected their oils, they will combine them with a lye solution (sodium hydroxide dissolved in a liquid; typically water). This is a very calculated process, as all oils require different amounts of lye order to convert them into soap (their saponification value), and the soap-maker must be very careful to use correct and precise amounts of all ingredients in order to produce soap that is gentle and cleansing, not harsh and stripping.
Once the oils and lye solution are fully mixed together, the soap-maker will incorporate skin-safe colours and scents (if desired), and pour the mixture into a mold. After the mixture is poured into the mold, it is left to sit for at least a day. This time allows the soaponification (production of soap) process to proceed, during which the soap to harden up enough to be released from the mold (think of is like a cake going into the oven to bake). After the soap is hard enough to be released, it is un-molded and sliced into bars. This is when the waiting game begins.
After the soap is sliced, it needs time to sit and cure. This is a passive process that allows the bars to become as hard and gentle for the skin as possible. Curing typically takes 4-6 weeks, but can take up to 6 months for some recipes!