The art of soap making mainly has three ingredients: lye, fat and additives.
All soaps undergo the saponification process wherein these three ingredients react to each to form a thin pudding, like material called Trace.
With our technology today, the soap maker can now choose from a variety of these three ingredients in order to produce different kinds of soaps.
Lye known as Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda (historically Potassium Hydroxide) is a caustic alkaline substance. Sodium Hydroxide lye is used to make soap mixtures more stable and firmer while Potassium hydroxide soap is used to make liquid soap or soft soap.
Lye is corrosive and should be handled with care. It can irritate the skin if too much is placed on your soap substance. When in high concentrations, it can cause blindness, chemical burns or internal damage.
It is best not to use aluminum with your soap mixture whether by a container or as a mixing tool. Aluminum reacts badly with lye because it forms hydrogen gas. It forms Sodium Monoxide when mixed with sugar in a closed environment, so it is best not to keep such ingredients in the working area.
Fat is the foundation of soap. It is often referred to as oil in soap making processes. Originally, in the earlier days of soap making, animal fat was used in order to create the first batch of soap such as pig lard or cow tallow.
Animal fats are considered as hard fats and do not produce many suds. However, with modern chemistry, they have since turned to vegetable and plant based oils. These oils have are milder and more conducive to human skin, and for the health conscious, more natural.
On top of that, plant based oils are wider in variety as each plant, grain or nut has a different kind of oil. Plant oils are also readily more absorbed by the skin.
Soap Making Technique Especially for Beginners
Additives are chemicals that do not include fat or lye, added to the mixture in order to cause a different chemical reaction that only fat or lye cannot produce, no matter what the quantity.
These include fragrances, essential oil, colorants, preservatives or boosters. Here are a few additives and their uses:
* Glycerin – used to add that moisturizing factor to soap
* Benzalkonium chloride – used to fight bacteria or fungi
* Caustic Potash – is a hardener for bar soaps
* Sodium Silicate – used to bind ingredients more effectively in liquid soap
* Coco Diethanol Amide (CDEA) – boosts the production of foam
One should familiarize with each ingredient first in order to mix a more effective batch of soap. Each combination gives a different effect in soap making.