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Making soap at home… is one of the most spectacular things I’ve discovered in recent times !! But why so much enthusiasm …? Are we really talking about soaps?
Yes!! Well, actually we are talking about natural handmade soaps. And any of us can make them at home!!
I was spending a very nice family day on vacation at Parque dos Monges, in Portugal when I decided to try the workshop of handmade soaps (melt and pour soap making).
The workshop was something very light, focused on family experience, and they offered a simple glycerin soap that they made in front of us, with a pot over an outdoor fire (it was hot, it really wasn’t very pleasant, but there you go…) .
I discovered in this workshop that natural handmade soap can be made with natural ingredients, so simple that they can be found at home, in our pantry. And that you can (and should) add flowers, plants or herbs extracts with medicinal properties. Which are very soft to the skin, not aggressive, and help to fight the great wave of allergenic problems that new generations have – atopic skins, for example. I was very curious about the idea and went to search the net to see how soap is made.
So, after all, what are soaps made of?
It’s very simple. So simple it seems like it’s not real. Just an oil or a mixture of them and the caustic soda that we use to unclog pipes to make soap. Simply put:
Oil + lye (sodium hydroxide) = Soap Salt + Glycerin = Soap!
When the oils and / or butters used and the lye (sodium hydroxide) are mixed in the appropriate amounts and correctly, they are chemically transformed, in a process called saponification. This process results in salt and glycerin, which make up natural soaps.
The manufacturing processes to make soap are very simple and can be conducted from a kitchen: hot process and cold process, being the main difference between them that one needs heat during saponification (hot process) and the other doesn’t (cold process).
Handmade Soap is Not Dangerous. Commercial Soaps Might Be…
Okay, curiosity may be a very good reason to start making soap at home, but there is more: using handmade natural soaps means avoiding chemical ingredients that can be toxic or are made from questionable substances or processes.
This report from RTP , of 17 January, called “Toxic Formulas”, makes us think:
Hundreds of chemical substances, many of them used in cosmetics, raise suspicions and concerns about their safety for the environment and human health. The European Union has already assumed that 60 percent of the chemicals on the market are in some way harmful to health and the environment, but the measures are slow to arrive.by Sandra Salvado – RTP * updated 17 January 2020, 17:22
This Soap article from the Healthline website explains the benefits of using soap instead of commercial store-bought hygiene products.
From my experience, natural soaps turn out to be softer, friendlier to the skin and to the body’s balance, because they are made with natural ingredients, some of them with medicinal properties and of ancient use, with proven evidence that they are good for our health. My skin started to become more balanced in terms of oiliness since I started using products made by myself.
But in fact, I started making soap at home because I find it very fun and rewarding! We can make colorful soaps, with different and customizable aromas, in various ways, giving free rein to imagination and creativity. Make them using various molds, including recycling cardboard packaging. Do them from scratch, with nothing “pre-made”.
Making soaps stimulates imagination and creativity: mixing essential oils to make unique aromas; use natural ingredients like carrots, spinach or spices to color the soap; make mixtures of soap dough of different colors, give texture and shape to the soaps. There is no limit to what you can do.
The fact that I feel good after using them is just a spectacular side effect that, without a doubt, adds to the experience.
Try it out too! Browse this website and find out soap making processes and several recipes.