Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive.
What is the difference between your soap and the stuff in the store?
Handmade soaps use premium ingredients that are carefully selected for their ability to contribute something wonderful to the finished bar of soap. Generally this means that you can pronounce everything on my label. Soaps that you find in the store may commonly use synthetic, detergent-based recipes. Take a look at the label of one of the soaps available in a store and see for yourself what the difference is.
Isn't Sodium Hydroxide the same as lye?
Yes. Sodium Hydroxide is a molecule (NaOH) that is required in order for soap to be created. However, during the actual process of soap making, all lye is consumed and the finished product contains no active lye molecules. It's very similar to making a cake. You put in various ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, eggs....), but those ingredients react together to create a new, tastier final product. The cake contains these ingredients, but they are no longer individually present in the final product. To make soap, you combine oils, butters, water, and lye, but once they have finished the saponification process, they are no longer present in the finished product. Many soapmakers, including myself, add additional oils (called "superfatting") to further ensure that no free-floating, unattached lye molecules are present in the final soap.
How do you make soap?
I use the cold process method of making soap. Outside of melting all liquid and solid oils together, there is no other heating used, unlike the hot process method (which "cooks" the soap batter). After proper measurement and mixing all ingredients, the raw soap is poured into molds and left to harden for 24-48 hours. By this time, the saponification process is fully completed and we have soap! I then unmold the fresh soap, and the soap loaf is then cut into bar shapes. The edges of the bars are beveled, and the soap is set aside to cure for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. This curing period allows excess moisture to escape from the soap and helps produce a harder, longer lasting bar. Each bar is double checked, weighed, packaged, and labeled before finding its way to you! My soaps typically weigh between 4.5 and 5.0 ounces, although some may be slightly larger.
I make soap in small batches. Because of this, there may be a natural design variation between bars. You are buying a handmade product, and no two are precisely the same. But that's most of the fun!
Are your soaps vegetarian/vegan?
Yes! Almost all of my soaps are vegan! The only exception is my Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap, which contains local honey. All of my other products are vegan-friendly. Some soaps also contain coconut milk.
Why are some of your soaps brown?
Many things affect the color of soap. The most common (and drastic) of these is vanilla content. Vanilla, or vanillin, typically causes soaps to turn brown over time. The amount of vanillin directly effects the rate of color change. Fragrances with low levels of vanillin will not change much, while fragrances with high levels will turn a dark chocolate brown over time. This generally happens in the 4-6 week cure period, so the colors of the soaps you see in my store should be their final colors.
How do I care for handmade soaps?
Caring for handmade soaps may be a bit different that what you are used to with store bought soaps.
After use, make sure to place handmade soaps in a well-drained dish away from direct streams of water. Soaps should be allowed to completely dry between uses.
I am planning an event and am thinking about soaps in a specific color and/or scent. Can you do that?
Of course! I love to play around with colors and scents, and custom orders give me the opportunity to do precisely that. I am happy to provide favors for weddings, baby showers, life events, or whatever you might need them for. Keep in mind that due to the curing time, I need a minimum of 4 weeks to create a custom soap for you. Please feel free to contact me (thesoapingsoprano.gmail.com) to discuss your needs and pricing.
Can I try your soap without having to buy a whole bar?
Yes! I have several options for trying out smaller sizes of my soaps.