When I first went no ‘poo (meaning I quit conventional shampoo) I panicked but finally quit messing around and started to use Jodi’s soap and I haven’t looked back since. I actually got over the huge hair hurdle, don’t even use conditioner anymore and barely have to think about what my hair is doing. The amazing hair days are back in full force and lucky for me, the kinds I LOVE are 100% Vegan.
Both Jodi and I use this soap daily – for hands, face, body and hair. Sometimes we even use her plain, unscented all-purpose cleaning soap for our dishes, which is basically coconut oil, lye and water. We don’t sell this, but we can do custom orders.
We only use what she makes and have even converted most of our friends and family.
So, let the questions begin.
Q: HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO SOAP-MAKING?
A: I really love soap and I used to spend a lot of money at Lush until I realized that most of their products contain ingredients I am no longer OK with having in my cosmetics. I first got into making soap around this time, which was about 7 years ago; I was starting to feel like I had very few practical skills and that I was very dependent on other people to make and do things for me. I began looking into how things are made and if I can do it myself before I bought something. I’ve learned how to make a lot of things now but I think soap is my favourite. I really love coming up with new recipes and I can hardly wait to unmould a new batch of soap to see how it’s turned out.
Q: WHY DO YOU USE LYE? IS IT NECESSARY FOR SOAP MAKING?
A: Lye is sodium hydroxide, a very alkaline solution and it is essential for soap making. Real soap is made with lye and is otherwise a detergent. When Lye is mixed with fats/oils (the acids), saponification occurs and both are neutralized, forming a salt. Once a batch of soap is finished saponifying, all of the lye will have reacted with the oils and there is no lye remaining in the finished product. Soap makers use more oil/fat than will react with the lye so that you have a gentle, moisturizing bar of soap. The standard is about 5% extra.
There are different ways to label soaps so you may not see lye/sodium hydroxide on the ingredient list. I label my soap by listing the ingredients that go in before saponification occurs because I think it is the easiest to understand. If I listed the ingredients as they are in the finished product, you wouldn’t see lye but you would see ‘glycerin’ (a natural byproduct of saponification) and the names for the saponified oils would be different; instead of, for example ‘coconut oil’, you would see ‘sodium cocoate’. A lot of vegetarians may be buying soap with animal fats if they don’t the name of the fat in the finished product.
For more information on how soap is made: http://www.soap-making-resource.com/how-is-soap-made.html
Q: WHAT DO YOU USE AS MOULDS?
A: Most of my soap is made in wood moulds that my husband made for me. I line them with parchment paper because I can compost it when I am finished, although most soap makers use silicone liners or freezer paper because the soap comes out with smooth edges. Freezer paper is lined with plastic these days so I don’t use it.
I also have a round silicone mold for making soaps and sun screens but I try not use any plastic and never any that I have to dispose of when I’m finished.
Q: SOME PEOPLE THINK NATURAL SOAP IS EXPENSIVE, WHY ARE THE COSTS DIFFERENT THAN STORE BOUGHT?
A: Buying my soap is more expensive than most of the soaps you find at a store because I try to buy ethically sourced materials. I am also a small business so I don’t get the better deals of buying in very large quantities. I use only essential oils for scent which are much more expensive than synthetic fragrances or perfumes. Essential oils are natural oils extracted (usually by steam or water distillation) from plants. Most of the soap you find at the store use synthetic ingredients that are cheaper, but also more harmful to your skin.
Q: ARE THE ESSENTIAL OILS YOU USE CONSIDERED HEALING?
A: The lye reacts differently with everything that goes into the batch of soap and so it is difficult to say what benefits you may get from the essential oils. From my own online research, it seems people believe that the essential oils do retain most of their beneficial properties. To be honest, I do not know very much about aromatherapy and the healing benefits of essential oils and because so much is needed in cold process soap, I use them mainly for their scent. For salves, I stick to the few I know more about. If you are interested to know a little more from someone more knowledgeable, I found this great interview about essential oils in soap making: http://roberttisserand.com/2011/06/essential-oils-in-soap-interview-with-kevin-dunn
Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO MAKE A BAR OF SOAP?
A: It doesn’t take very long to make the soap – just a couple of hours for all the preparation, making it and cleanup but it needs at least 4 weeks to cure. Saponification only takes up to 48 hours but as the soap sits, the water will evaporate and the bars will harden which is good because they will last longer.