Saponification

Have you ever wondered what soap is? We use it every day to wash our bodies, clothes, dishes, etc., but most of us have no clue that soap is actually a salt created from a complex chemical reaction. This salt comes from the “saponification” process.

When we make soap using the cold process method, we mix an oil or fat (which is the acid) with a lye (which is the alkali) solution to form soap (which is a salt). The alkali (or lye) is just a dry powder and would never mix well with the acids, so water (or another liquid) is added, using a very precise formula, to form the mixing solution.

Two chemical reactions occur. The first reaction is that natural glycerol turns into skin-nourishing glycerin (which commercial factories remove to sell for more profit!), and the second reaction is that the acid and the alkali combine to form a salt, which is soap! The lye has reacted with the oils and fats to become soap and, if done properly, no lye remains in the final product. This is “saponification” – at least it’s the simplified explanation!

The essential “nuts & bolts” of our soap

  • Lye or Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide; NaOH) – This is what transforms our premium vegetable oils into pure natural soap. All bar soap is made with it. When we make the soap properly though, there is no active lye left in the final bar.
  • Rainwater & Distilled Water – When we combine our oils with lye, the reaction produces soap, water and glycerin. Eventually the excess water evaporates when the soap is “cured” (this is when the soap is left to dry out). The type of water used is very important. Tap water contains minerals and impurities so we never use it. Distilled water is great for soap, but the natural minerals have been removed. What can be more pure and natural than rainwater?? We prefer using pure (uncontaminated), soft (low levels of calcium & magnesium), filtered rainwater which we collect ourselves in Portland, Jamaica (and it rains a LOT here so our supply never “dries up”!!). Once again, Mother Nature has provided us with what we need to keep our skin clean and healthy!

Nourishing Milks

Milk from animals contains lactic acid, a alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), which breaks down dead skin cells and allows our skin to rejuvenate itself more quickly. AHAs also act as moisturizers by taking humidity from the air and helping skin absorb this moisture. The result is younger and healthier looking skin. Milk in soap also adds a creaminess that can’t be matched with just oil. Did you know that Cleopatra reputedly loved daily milk & honey baths? (And she was famous for her beautiful skin!) So did Nero’s wife, Poppaea, and many other wealthy “society” women. And, in the 18th century, Napoleon’s younger sister, Pauline, had her servants make a hole in the ceiling above her bath so they could pour milk directly into her tub!!

  • Goat’s Milk – Goat’s milk in soap is deservedly popular – it makes a lovely, creamy, moisturizing soap! It’s a natural emollient that helps soothe and moisturize the skin. It contains vitamins A, B6, B12 and E. The natural triglycerides and acids in it help to balance our skin’s natural pH and promotes natural exfoliation of dry skin. If you’ve ever been to Jamaica you know that goats are plentiful, so we have unlimited access to fresh goat’s milk! Using goat’s milk may take a bit more preparation and time, but it’s definitely worth the trouble. Your skin will love you for trying one of our goat’s milk soaps! (Note: Obviously goat’s milk comes from an animal so, while 100% natural and organic, it is not vegan.)
  • Coconut Milk – Here’s another milk that deserves its popularity. Okay, it’s not milk from an animal but is nonetheless a delightful “milk”, derived from the meat of a coconut. It is not the liquid that’s inside the coconut – that is coconut water (Jamaican “Jelly Wata”), and, yes, we use that too! Coconut milk in soap makes lots of creamy bubbles. The vitamin E rich milk cleans the skin gently without irritating it, so coconut milk soaps are an excellent option for those with sensitive skin. Coconut milk does not strip away the natural oils in the skin. It replenishes moisture, leaving it smooth, soft and hydrated.

Other ingredients we love

There are LOTS of things we can add to soap and other products to enhance the moisturizing or cleansing power, the creaminess, the lather, the vitamins and antioxidants, etc.

  • Aloe Vera Gel and Oil (Jamaica’s “Sinkle Bible”) (Aloe barbadensis) (Certified Organic) is a species of Aloe, native to northern Africa, which yields an antioxidant-containing gel substance. It has been used in herbal medicines since the days of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. In Jamaica, the plant grows everywhere. The pure gel has wound-healing compounds and is commonly used to soothe burns and reduce scarring. It can also be eaten!! Soaps containing aloe vera are particularly good for moisturizing dry skin, maintaining the health of your skin, and can help reduce acne.
  • Carnauba Wax (Copernicia Cerifera) – Not just for your car anymore! We use this wax as a substitute for beeswax to keep our products vegan. Carnuba wax adds hardness and a little natural color.
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract – is one of the most widely used ingredients for its antibacterial & preservative qualities. Grapefruit Seed Extract is high in vitamins C and E. We use an extract that’s combined with glycerin instead of propylene glycol; a much cleaner alternative.
  • Kaolin (French White) Clay (also called “China clay” or “white cosmetic clay”) – One of the purest and mildest clays. The texture is very fine and it is naturally absorbent. It also helps to make scents last longer. Kaolin clay will gently draw impurities from the skin without removing natural oils while at the same time exfoliating, cleansing, and stimulating circulation. It is suitable for any type of skin, whether it be oily, blemish prone, normal, sensitive, dry, or mature skin. It’s also especially good in shaving soaps.
  • Rhassoul (Moroccan Lava) Clay – This is gentle clay, making it suitable for sensitive skin. It helps stimulate circulation to the skin while gently cleansing it & drawing out toxins and impurities that tend to age our skin. High in silica, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium, this clay is surely one of the finest treasures for pampering your skin. Its extraordinary power of absorption makes it more effective than other clays for cleansing, detoxification, and general skin treatment.
  • Stearic Acid (Triple Pressed Vegetable) – is a saturated fat that occurs in natural animal and vegetable fats (ours is from vegetable fat). Used to thicken creams and lotions or to add hardness to bar soap when a recipe is high in oils that produce a soft bar, such as castor, sunflower, or corn oils.
  • Tocopherols, Natural T-50 – is a natural Vitamin E. Tocopherols are not a preservative. Vitamin E is a natural anti-oxidant that has very good skin healing properties and may reduce scarring after injuries such as burns. It can also protect from UV exposure. We use only natural vitamin E, never synthetic.

Share