Homemade Soap is NOT Lye Soap

Well it is but it isn't. Homemade soap is just made with lye but it is not overall LYE soap If it was Lye soap it would burn your skin. There seems to be a big misconception about homemade soap.
I was by a friend last night about my soaps and she assumed again that homemade soaps are hard and are drying to the skin. I asked her "have you ever tried homemade soaps" her reply No. Well then how do you know it will dry your skin. She went on to reply "doesn't all soap dry your skin out". I just told her that for one you need to read up on homemade soaps and actually try using it and then use store bought soaps to compare the difference, then you can make a smart choice and decide which is better.

The most popular soapmaking processes today is the cold process method, where fats such as olive oil react with lye. Soapmakers sometimes use the melt and pour process, where a premade soap base is melted and poured in individual molds. Some soapers also practice other processes, such as the historical hot process, and make special soaps such as clear soap (glycerin soap), which must be made through the melt and pour process.

Handmade soap differs from industrial soap in that, usually, an excess of fat is sometimes used to consume the alkali (superfatting), and in that the glycerin is not removed. Superfatted soap, soap which contains excess fat, is more skin-friendly than industrial soap; though, if not properly formulated, it can leave users with a "greasy" feel to their skin. Often, emollients such as jojoba oil or shea butter are added 'at trace' (the point at which the saponification process is sufficiently advanced that the soap has begun to thicken), after most of the oils have saponified, so that they remain unreacted in the finished soap. Superfatting can also be accomplished through a processed called superfat discount, where, instead of putting in extra fats, the soap maker puts in less lye.


Reacting fat with sodium hydroxide will produce a hard soap.

Reacting fat with potassium hydroxide will produce a soap that is either soft or liquid.


Soap is derived from either oils or fats. Sodium tallowate, a common ingredient in many soaps, is in fact derived from rendered beef fat. Soap can also be made of vegetable oils, such as palm oil, and the product is typically softer. If soap is made from pure olive oil it may be called Castile soap or Marseille soap. Castile is also sometimes applied to soaps with a mix of oils, but a high percentage of olive oil.

An array of quality oils and butters are used in the process such as olive, coconut, palm, cocoa butter, hemp oil and shea butter to list a few. Each oil chosen by the soap maker has unique characteristics that provide different qualities to handmade soaps including mildness, lathering and hardness.

For example olive oil provides mildness in soap; coconut oil provides lots of lather while coconut and palm oils provides hardness. Most common, though, is a combination of coconut, palm, and olive oils.

Why wouldn't want to use these wonderful oils in your bar of soap. Think about how exciting it is to know what is in your bar of soap rather then guessing or assuming


In both cold-process and hot-process soapmaking, heat is required for saponification.

Cold-process soapmaking takes place at a temperature sufficiently above room temperature to ensure the liquification of the fat being used, and requires that the lye and fat be kept warm after mixing to ensure that the soap is completely saponified.

Hot process

In the hot-process method, lye and fat are boiled together at 80 – 100 °C until saponification occurs, which the soapmaker can determine by taste (the bright, distinctive taste of lye disappears once all the lye is saponified) or by eye (the experienced eye can tell when gel stage and full saponification have occurred).

After saponification has occurred, the soap is sometimes precipitated from the solution by adding salt, and the excess liquid drained off.

The hot, soft soap is then spooned into a mold.

Cold process
This is the type of process I use to make my soap

What is saponification: A Chemical reaction that occurs when a vegetable oil or animal fat is mixed with a strong alkali. The products of the reaction are two: soap and glycerin. Water is also present, but it does not enter into the chemical reaction. The water is only a vehicle for the alkali, which is otherwise a dry powder.

The name saponification literally means "soap making". The root word, "sapo", is Latin for soap. The Italian word for soap is sapone. Soap making as an art has its origins in ancient Babylon around 2500 - 2800 BC.

However, cold-process soaps are typically cured and hardened on a drying rack for 2-6 weeks (depending on initial water content) before use. If using caustic soda it is recommended that the soap is left to cure for at least 4 weeks.

Update: 3/8/2013


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