With practice, soapmaking is a fun process and not terribly difficult to do, but it can be tricky to perfect and is quite time consuming. In short, it uses simple equipment, oils as raw materials, lye, natural ingredients, colors, fragrances and scents, all of which are likely to be locally available in most countries so that even you could do it! Ahead we’ll take you through a quick write up of the process here at Soapy Penguin.
There are a few main ingredients in our Soapy Penguin branded soap, some of which are – oil (oil is simply liquid fat) and water. Other ingredients may be added to give the soap a pleasant scent or color, or to improve its skin-softening qualities. Almost any fat or non-toxic oil is suitable for soap.
With practice, soap making can be fun and suitable as a small-scale business. It uses simple equipment and ingredients. However, it is more difficult to produce high-quality hard bar of soap, which may be necessary to compete with imported products or those produced by large-scale manufacturers.
Vegan soaps (or vegetable soaps) are made from fats or oils of vegetable origin rather than from saponified tallow or other animal fats. Animal fats were traditionally used in soapmaking and are still sometimes used today, but for the most part these fats have been replaced with vegetable oils and butters.
We are a cruelty free company and prefer to stick with vegetable oils like olive and coconut. Most of our soaps are vegan friendly, with the exception of our Soapy Penguin Honey n’ Oats bar which contains locally sourced honey.
In addition to fats, the other main ingredient used in cold process soapmaking is lye. Lye is what saponifies the oils and turns them into soap. It can be quite dangerous to work with, so please be sure to research proper safety, handling and mixing instructions if attempting soapmaking.
Once the oils are mixed with the lye, a chemical reaction occurs and the lye is no longer present in the finished product.
Lyes can either be bought as potassium hydroxide (caustic potash) or from sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), or if they are not available, made from ashes, such as charcoal.
Sodium hydroxide is the ingredient most commonly used today by cold process soap makers.
We also use a variety of natural fragrances to to give our soaps a wonderful scent, including Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary essential oils. Some of our soaps are scented with fragrance oils, however we only use fragrance oils that are free from phthalates and parabens.
We also add plenty of ingredients to our soaps which may provide great health benefits to your skin, such as Cedarwood essential oil which is said to be an antiseptic, may act as an anti fungal, antibacterial, is a natural deodorizer and bug repellant, and may help soothe dry scalp.
Or, kaolin clay, which is a natural gentle exfoliator. Kaolin helps to remove impurities and dirt from the skin without drying it. Kaolin may also be beneficial for oily skin.
Other ingredients include Natural colorants and dyes. Some common colorants used in cold process soap making are natural colorants including spices, herbs, clays and other botanical powders, as well as micas and oxides. Many of these will produce in beautiful results in coloring cold process soap. Liquid soap colorants are also widely available and commonly used, and are often made with natural ingredients. Natural colorants are generally added by oil infusion, lye infusion or by adding powder at trace. Common natural colorant powders include turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, alkanet root, madder root, powdered mint, rose clay and charcoal. There are so many to choose from! Usage rates vary, but typically you can start with a single teaspoon of natural colorant per pound of oil and go up or down from there.
For instance, our Soapy Penguin Peppermint soap has the following ingredients: Distilled water, olive oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, sodium hydroxide, french green clay, kaolin clay, peppermint essential oil, lavender essential oil, color. We use both the french green clay and a small amount of liquid green soap colorant to produce our beautifully colored Soapy Penguin Peppermint Soap.
Our Soapy Penguin Big Lavender soap uses the following ingredients – Distilled water, Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Castor Oil, Lye, French Pink Clay, Kaolin Clay, Lavender Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Lavender Petals. Using only natural ingredients and ensuring they’re cruelty free makes this specific soap not only vegan friendly, but also free of synthetic dyes and fragrances, free of phthalates, parabens and sulfates. Creating an all natural soap is something we very much pride ourselves on!
After our materials are prepared we begin mixing and blending the ingredients, combining everything together. Once the soap reaches a desired consistency it’s ready to be poured into the molds, where it will sit for approximately two days before being cut. The soap is then ready to be cured, a process which typically takes between 4 to 6 weeks. Technically, cold process soap is safe to use after a few days. However, letting the soap cure for 6 weeks in a cool, dry place with good airflow will ensure our soap is of the highest quality. Excess water will evaporate, which creates harder and milder bars that last longer in the shower. It’s definitely worth the wait.
Because Soapy Penguin soaps are made and cut by hand in small batches, the weight, shape and color may vary slightly from bar to bar. Approximate weight of each bar is between 100-120 grams (roughly 3.5-4.2 oz) This is normal and incredibly difficult to avoid unless you’re mass producing using machines. It’s also important to remember to allow your soap in between uses! We recommend using a wooden soap dish or a stainless steel shower caddy to drain your soap. This goes for any type of soap. I’m sure you’ve been there before, you reach for the soap only to be met with a bunch of sticky, slimy goo at the bottom of the soap dish, pretty unpleasant. Cold Process soap needs to breathe at all times when curing, and it’s a good idea to allow your bar of soap to continue to breathe once you receive it.
Think you can make your own soap? If you’re interested then we certainly encourage you to try, it can be very rewarding and there’s nothing quite like using a product you know that you made yourself. Like homemade cookies, they’re always better than mass produced pre-packaged batches you can buy in supermarkets. If you’re not quite up to the task, then that’s okay too! We’ve got plenty of different types of soaps to help you out. Soapy Penguin prides itself on making soaps of only the highest quality, hand made, cruelty free with plenty of vegan friendly options.
Check out our online shop and start from there, the difference between hand made cold process soap and chemically mass produced soap is night and day. Your skin will thank you, and it might even inspire you to start making soap yourself!