Sunday, November 11

Why do we use LYE to make Natural Soap?

Recently we received an email from someone who was curious as to why Purple Essentials includes "sodium hydroxide" in our fresh & natural, hand-crafted, cold processed soaps. 
 ...Well let me explain :)

Chemically speaking, soap is a salt; an acid and a base react with one another and are neutralized to form a salt/soap. A more simple explanation is: oils or fats combine with sodium hydroxide or "lye" in a process called saponification to produce soap.

Fatty Acid (Oil) + Base (Sodium Hydroxide /Lye) = Salt (Soap)

Lye is an essential component in the soap making reaction because its hydroxide ion combines with the oil or fat to form the soap. In our final product there is no lye remaining - it has all been consumed/neutralized in the saponification process - converted to glycerine and soap.

Think of it in these terms: It is a bit like using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in a cake. The purpose of baking soda mixed into the recipe is to force the cake to rise; it is converted into carbon dioxide during the baking process. In the finished cake there is no baking soda left.

Likewise, in the finished soap there is no lye remaining.

As for the main benefit of cold process soap, and the reason people enjoy it so much ... its incredible soothing properties. These soothing properties are courtesy of the glycerin that forms during the oil and lye reaction. Glycerin is one of the best known humecants, which means that is is excellent for attracting moisture to the skin; it softens skin naturally. Hand-crafted soap retains extra glycerin ... thus, extra soothing power.

Here is the low down on the Cold Process Method that Purple Essentials uses to create our fresh & natural natural soaps:
  •   The vegetable oils are heated gently.
  • Lye and water are heated separately.  When both ingredients reach the required temperature, they are (very carefully) combined.
  • When the mixture reaches the desired consistency and temperature, it is poured into a mold.
  • The soap filled molds are then "put to bed" (wrapped with blankets to insulate and allow the saponification process to occur).
  •  The bars are then removed from the mold after "setting up" - (approximately 24 to 48 hours).

  •  They are then cut, re-stacked and allowed to "cure" or dry until hard.  This can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks depending on the recipe used.

Speaking of soap... I am getting excited to head into the studio and begin whipping up the multiple batches of soap that we will have cut, wrapped and ready for the upcoming holiday/gift giving season :)

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and a thoughtful Remembrance/ Veteran's Day
To all who have so generously and courageously given of themselves to help ensure our freedom ... 
A heart-felt THANK YOU ~ Lest we forget.

5 weeks until Purple Essentials Holiday Shopping Event ~ Countdown is on... Stay tuned for updates...

Live Purple!

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