Why Homemade Cold Processed Soap Finishes Faster Than Commercial Soap

Homemade cold processed soap has become increasingly popular. This artisanal craft offers numerous benefits beyond just cleansing. Cold process soapmaking involves creating soap from scratch using oils, lye (sodium hydroxide), and water. This process requires patience and precision, resulting in a product that often surpasses commercially manufactured soap. One intriguing aspect is how quickly homemade cold processed soap finishes compared to commercial soap. Let’s explore why this happens. 

The Ingredients: Natural vs. Synthetic

Homemade Cold Processed Soap:

Natural Oils and Butters: Cold processed soap uses natural oils and butters like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter. These ingredients are nourishing for the skin and contribute to the soap’s softness and quicker dissolution in water.

No Chemical Additives: Homemade soap typically lacks the chemical hardeners and preservatives found in commercial soap. This results in a soap that is more prone to dissolving quickly when exposed to water.

Commercial Soap:

Synthetic Ingredients: Commercial soaps often contain synthetic detergents, hardeners, and preservatives. Ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) produce a harder, longer-lasting bar.

Fillers and Stabilizers: These soaps may also include fillers like talc and stabilizers to increase their longevity and shelf stability. These additives help the soap last longer but reduce its natural lathering and moisturizing properties.

The Manufacturing Process: Artisanal vs. Industrial

Homemade Cold Processed Soap:

Handcrafted Process: The cold process method involves mixing lye and oils at a controlled temperature to initiate saponification – the chemical reaction that produces soap. This method preserves the natural glycerin, a byproduct of saponification, which is a humectant that draws moisture to the skin.

Curing Time: After pouring the soap mixture into molds, it must cure for 4-6 weeks. During this time, the soap hardens as excess water evaporates. Without chemical hardeners, the final product remains softer than commercial soap.

Commercial Soap:

Industrial Techniques: Commercial soap is often made using a continuous process or hot process method. This allows for mass production and includes steps to remove glycerin (often sold separately or used in other products).

Additives and Hardening Agents: To expedite production and enhance durability, commercial soap includes hardening agents and stabilizers. This results in a bar that is significantly harder and longer-lasting than homemade soap.

Physical Properties and Usage

Homemade Cold Processed Soap:

Higher Glycerin Content: Homemade soap retains its natural glycerin, making it more hydrating but also more prone to softening and dissolving quickly in water.

Softness: Without chemical hardeners, homemade soap remains relatively soft. When used frequently, it tends to melt faster, especially if not properly drained and dried between uses.

Lather and Texture: The natural oils and butters in homemade soap produce a rich, creamy lather that feels luxurious on the skin. However, this richness also contributes to faster wear.

Commercial Soap:

Hardness and Density: The hardening agents in commercial soap create a denser bar that withstands frequent use and exposure to water. It takes longer to wear down, making it more economical in terms of longevity.

Less Glycerin: The removal of glycerin and the addition of fillers result in a soap that is less moisturizing but more durable. This gives the impression of better value as the soap bar lasts longer, even if it might not be as gentle on the skin.

Environmental and Health Considerations

Homemade Cold Processed Soap:

Eco-Friendly: Homemade soap is often made with sustainably sourced ingredients and avoids harmful chemicals, making it better for the environment.

Gentle on Skin: The absence of harsh chemicals and the presence of natural glycerin make homemade soap ideal for sensitive skin and those prone to allergies.

Commercial Soap:

Environmental Impact: The production and disposal of commercial soap can have a significant environmental footprint due to synthetic chemicals and non-biodegradable packaging.

Potential Irritants: The synthetic detergents and additives can be harsh on the skin, potentially causing dryness or irritation for some users.

Practical Tips for Making Your Homemade Soap Last Longer

While homemade cold processed soap tends to finish faster, there are several strategies to extend its life:

  1. Proper Storage: Keep your soap in a dry, well-ventilated area. Use a soap dish with good drainage to prevent the bar from sitting in water.
  2. Cutting the Bar: Cut larger bars into smaller pieces. This reduces the amount of soap exposed to water at any given time.
  3. Rotate Bars: Use multiple bars in rotation. This allows each bar to dry out fully between uses.
  4. Use a Soap Saver: A soap saver or soap bag can help create more lather with less soap, making your bar last longer.

Homemade cold processed soap is charming due to its simplicity, natural ingredients, and personal touch. While it may finish faster than commercially manufactured soap, the benefits to your skin and the environment are substantial. Understanding the differences in ingredients, manufacturing processes, and physical properties highlights why this artisanal product behaves differently. By taking a few simple steps to care for your homemade soap, you can enjoy its luxurious benefits while making it last longer. Embrace the art of cold process soapmaking and revel in the natural, nurturing qualities that set it apart from commercial alternatives.

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