About Soap

Hawaiian Hibiscus - All About Soap

Not quite sure or just a little confused about the differences between the terms cold kettle soap, cold processed soap, commercial soap, glycerine soap, hand milled soap, handcrafted soap, handmade soap, lye soap, melt and pour soap, natural soap and superfatted soap? They seem to be interchanged quite frequently. When we were first introduced to handmade soap, there were just a few different terms being used by companies and individuals to describe their soap. This has changed with the growing popularity of natural bath products. Even we get confused at times, but here are the differences as we understand them.


Cold Kettle Soap
Cold kettle refers to a popular method of soap making, and is also known as cold processed soap making. The cold kettle or cold processed method means that no external heat is applied during the soap making process.

Cold Processed Soap
Cold processed soap is also known as cold kettle soap. See cold kettle soap above.

Commercial Soap
Commercial soap is one term used to describe the soap that is produced by the large corporations. This so called soap is available in most every supermarket, discount and drug store. No longer a true soap, but rather a detergent, it is produced using what is called continuous process soap manufacturing. This method allows ingredients to be added throughout the soap making process.

Glycerine Soap
Glycerine soap is created from a cold processed or similar hand made soap base. The glycerine soap is made translucent through a process using alcohol and sugar. Available in craft stores and from soap makers that offer soap making supplies. Also referred to as melt and pour soap.

Hand Milled Soap
Hand milled soap is also known as rebatched soap. Hand made or cold processed soap base is grated and mixed with water usually over heat to liquefy the mixture. You can then add emollients, herbs, spices, essential oils, fragrance oils and coloring before pouring this soap into molds. The soap is then removed from the molds and placed on a rack or shelf to let the excess moisture evaporate and allow the bar of soap to harden.

Handcrafted Soap
Handcrafted soap is used to refer to melt and pour soap making where the soap base is already made and it is handcrafted into individual bars or loaves of soap. The melt and pour soap base is also known as glycerin soap and is available in a clear base. This method also allows the hobbyist to create their own handcrafted soap by adding their favorite essential or fragrance oil as well as any herbs or spices. You can also use various methods to color the soap. The melt and pour soap base can be used to create layered soap, and imbedded soap where a shape or design of a different color is embedded within the glycerin soap.

Handmade Soap
Handmade soap usually refers to soap that is made by combining a base (oils) with an alkali (sodium or potassium hydroxide) through a process known as saponification to create a salt (soap). This is usually done by hand, and not by an automated mechanical process. Handmade soap does not always mean that it's a natural soap.

Lye Soap
Lye (sodium hydroxide) soap is just another term for handmade soap or natural soap. This is a term that has survived from the early days of soap making when commercial lye was first available and you no longer had to create your own solution using wood ashes. You cannot make bar soap without using lye as it is necessary to convert the base oils or fats into soap. When made correctly, there is no lye remaining in the finished soap.

Melt and Pour Soap
Melt and pour soap making is a popular craft today as it allows the hobbyist create their own handcrafted soap without having to use any caustic chemicals or waiting for the finished soap to cure. See handcrafted soap above.

Natural Soap
Natural soap generally refers to the fact that only natural ingredients are being used to create the soap. Some natural ingredients used are vegetable base oils, pure essential oils and herbs and spices. This usually means that only natural source ingredients are being used in the soap making process. Natural soap can be hand made, and has been referred to as such.

Superfatted Soap
Superfatted soap is a handmade soap that has an extra amount of oils added as an emollient that are not saponified during the soap making process. These extra oils can be included in the formula or added after the base oils and sodium hydroxide solution have been thoroughly mixed.

We hope that these descriptions were helpful to you. Please visit our soap making glossary for soap making terms and definitions. Visit our tips page for help with selecting handmade soap. Mahalo!





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