For our all-natural base soap mixture we use a number of oils and butters. Occasionally, we use use bee’s wax and goat’s milk, but we tell you all the ingredients of our soaps so you know exactly what’s in them.
Among our favourite ingredients are olive oil (see our Olive Oil soaps) and goat’s milk (see our Baby soaps) – both are known for their wonderfully gentle moisturizing qualities. We also use castor oil for a creamy lather, rice bran oil for sensitive skin, and cocoa butter, among other ingredients, to help harden our soaps and for added luxury and conditioning.
Read on to find out how our beautiful, all-natural soaps are made…
Step One: Preparing the ingredients
Once we’ve chosen our favourite oil and/or butter (sometimes we use more than one for an extra creamy bar), the real fun begins – making our beautiful, luxurious, all-natural soaps!
First, we start off with distilled water to which we add sodium hydroxide, known as lye. These ingredients are essential to creating the chemical reaction known as saponification, which is the process of turning our all-natural oils and butters into soap.
When adding lye to one of our milk-based soaps, we have to freeze the milk first. This is because the chemical reaction when adding lye creates a lot of heat, and would scald and burn the milk, turning it brown, if it weren’t frozen first. We use a stainless steel bowl for this part of the process. It’s a very bad idea to use an aluminium or plastic bowl – the lye will corrode the aluminium and melt the plastic.
Step Two: Heating the oils/butters and mixing with lye
Once the mixture has cooled down from the saponification process, we warm up our oil and/or butter until the mixture reaches room temperature. Once the temperature of our oil/butter mixture is within 10 degrees Celsius of our lye solution, we can carefully mix them together until fully incorporated.
Step Three: Adding all-natural colours and scents
It’s at this point – before the batter sets – that we add in any colours or scents. We use all-natural colours, from cocoa powder and Australian red reef clay (see our Woodland Spice soap) to spirulina and turmeric (see our Tropical Flurry soap). All our scents are natural too – you’ll love our Three Wise Men soap that uses essential oils of frankincense and myrhh! To see our full soap range, please click here.
Step Four: Pouring the mixture into a mould and leaving to cool
Once our colour and scent mixture has just about blended, we pour it into our prepared moulds. We’ve found that lightly blending at this point is the best way to show off the natural colours of our soaps in all their beauty.
The saponification process continues for another 2 hours once we’ve poured the mixture into its mould. This phase is called by soapers “the worrying phase” as the mixture can occasionally get too hot which can either crack the soap or cause it to gel rather than harden. Some soapers like their soaps to gel as it can make the colours more vibrant – they achieve this by insulating the mould to help retain heat.
At Wild Soapery, we prefer a hard soap, which we achieve by waiting until the lye solution and oil/butter mixture are room temperature and within 10 degrees Celsius of each other before we combine them. This means they’re ok to be put in the fridge once in their mould, and so reduces the likelihood of the soap overheating during the final stages of the saponification process. Once complete, the soap no longer contains any lye as it has been completely used up in the saponification process.
Step Five: Cutting the soaps
Once our soap has cooled fully, we take it out of its mould and carefully cut each slice by hand. Ideally, soap needs to cure for up to 6 weeks to allow water to evaporate, which makes a much longer-lasting soap. This is why for our Wedding Soaps, we would need a lead time of about 6 weeks for bespoke wedding favours etc.
As all our soaps are handmade, no two batches of the same soap will ever look the same. In a way, our soaps are as unique as if nature had made them – which, in a way, it has!