History suggests that the Babylonians were the first soapmakers right back around 2800 B.C. They were found to have made soap from combining boiled down animal fats boiled down and ashes from plant matter. It was thought that the soap was not made for personal hygiene but was rather used for cleaning cooking utensils and objects used for medicinal purposes.
Fast forward to today, never before has hand and personal hygiene basked in the spotlight from the last couple of years. In a world that is fast paced and dynamic, consumers are looking for easy and convenient products to assist them throughout their day. As such, the design and production of the humble soap bar has evolved. Where water is at a premium, companies have looked for ways to make hygiene more accessible. This research, in turn, has seen the invention of liquid hand sanitisers.
Hand Sanitiser, sometimes referred to as hand rub, hand disinfectant, or hand antiseptic, comes in a liquid, gel, or foam form. Applied typically via a pump bottle dispenser or squeeze tube, hand sanitiser is a soap alternative that is used to kill many viruses and bacteria from our hands. Although a very convenient form of hand cleaning and a great defence against germs, nothing kills germs more rapidly than washing your hands with soap for 30 seconds. One of the downsides to using hand sanitiser is that one may wipe off the hand sanitiser before it has dried, making it less effective in protecting oneself from germs. Furthermore, some of the liquids, gels, and foams are less effective because their alcohol concentrations are too low.
However, if we look to the more traditional soap making methods there are two main ways to produce this wonderful cleaning agent.
Cold Process Soap Making
Some of the most world-renowned soapmakers use the cold process method as it is a time-tested technique. Cold process soap is made by combining oils and sodium hydroxide lye, a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching wood ashes, or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water. When the oils and sodium hydroxide lye are combined, a chemical reaction referred to as saponification occurs. It’s during this process that you can add essential oils in the cold process soap tempered to your liking. You could buy wholesale fragrance oils for soap making to create the perfect smelling soap bar.
Some of the best fragrance for soap making are citrus essential oils as they can add antiseptic properties to your soap bar. Other popular soap fragrance oils are coconut, lavender, rose, and sandalwood. There are more fragrance oils locally available for soap making in Australia. During the process of adding essential oils to your soap bar, you can also experiment with colorants and other ingredients. These days, it’s not uncommon to find lovely soap bars that contain exotic fragrance oils, coffee granules, salt flakes, or even dried flowers to help create a perfumed exfoliant soap bar that leaves the skin feeling nourished and cleansed.
The UK-based Soap Making Magazine writes that the “perfect soap bar needs to be long lasting but not too hard, cleansing but not drying, nourishing without being soft and not too expensive to make”.
Hot Process Soap Making
Unlike cold process soap making, hot process soap making uses an external heat source to bring the soap to a gel phase. This gel is then poured directly into the soap moulds to cool.
As you’ve learnt, the cold press soap making doesn’t use any external heat source at all. Cold process soap making relies upon the ‘heat’ being internally generated during the chemical saponification process and, in turn, does not require the pouring of liquid into the moulds immediately.
Design-wise, hot process soap making has a less refined, more rustic, look. Given the need to work quickly, hot process soap making does not allow the opportunity to create intricate design however, the pros are that the soap has a very quick turnaround and, in most instances, could be used the following day once cooled and set.
There are now many different variants of soaps in the markets for consumers to choose from made for an array of personal, commercial, and industrial use. Soaps can be easily handmade in small quantities or produced commercially in large batches. Soaps can be 100% organic and natural, low-allergen, fragrance free or rich in essential oils to act as a perfume. Be it soap to wash your clothes, your car, your dishes, your floor, your pet, your loved ones or yourself – chances are you can find the perfect soap solution to suit your needs.