What is Cold Process Soap?
Saponifaction can be defined as the chemical reaction between a fat or oil and an alkali, which produces soap. However, soap making is a combination of Art and Science which fundamentally has not changed over thousands of years.
The earliest recorded evidance of soap making dates back to around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon, combining fats and ashes. There are occasional references to soap and alternative body cleansing methods - most reknowned is the use of olive oil by the Romans - yet no soap involved! However, recorded practices of soap making still fundamentally include the two basic ingredients of fats and ashes.
Cold Process Method
At Wild Cornish Soap, we use the traditional cold process method. The reason this is called the 'cold process' is because the temperature does not exceed 40 degrees - we want all the natural goodness to remain fully entact!
This method involves mixing sodium hydroxide (lye) with water and combining it with fatty oils. Once fully emulisified, botanicals, essential oils, natural colorants and exfoliants are added 'at trace' (once thick enough). The mixture is poured into moulds and left for up to 4 days. During this time the mixture will heat up (saponification process) and excess water will begin to dissapate. The bar is removed from the mould, cut into bars and placed in a warm, dry area to 'cure' for a further 4-6 weeks. The bars need to cure to allow the lye time to break down the oils and any water to evaporate. This results in a firm bar of soap ready for the new owners pair of hands!
What is the Difference?
One of the main benefits and difference that sets cold-processed soap from industrial varieties (and indeed apparently 'natural soaps') is that:
Glycerin (a natural moisturiser) is left in which acts as a moisturising agent. Unlike industrially made soaps which remove the Glycerin as a by-product to be sold in higher priced products.
In Cold Process soaps, we add an excess of fat (usually 5%) above which is needed to consume the lye - called superfat. This increases the amount the oil left in the bar to provide extra nourishment to your hands.