What Is Soap?
At its most basic soap is a combination of oils, fats, and lye that when mixed with water form a bond that makes a new substance called Soap. The process of binding oils, fats, lye and water into soap is called Saponification.
Saponified Oils Fats & Lye or Soap is then mixed with water and rubbed between your hands to form suds making a slippery surface that will help dirt, grime and germs slide right off of your skin, and down the drain.
How It Is Used
Soap is used to remove, dirt, grease, grime and germs on both soft and hard surfaces. Including but not limited to; Hair, Skin, Teeth, Clothes, Floors, Dishes, Pots, Pans, Bathrooms & Kitchens. In fact, I can’t think of a cleaning job that there is not some kind of soap or cleanser to help with the job.
With all the possible uses for soap I have only touched on some of them, and can only guess how many there could possibly be, maybe you can think of some. What about using soap for making nails, pins or needles go through materials easier?
When I think about it, I would have to admit that Soap is probably one of the most widely used products ever created by man. So it goes to reason that if you want to do something that would highly impact your environment you should take a look at the soap you use.
Where Did Soap Come From?
Over my years of soap making, I have read numerous accounts of where soap originated from. Most of the accounts talked about the fats from slaughtered animals accidently being mixed with ashes, and people noticing that when it got into a water stream suds were formed, I am sure my memory is not accurate. As I now search for the origins of soap instead of finding supporting evidence for what I remember, I found something a little different.
What I found is that soap making can be traced as far back as 1500 BC to Ancient Egypt and 2800 BC to Babylon. In both Egypt and Babylon, historical records were found, in the form of a papyrus medical document in Egypt explaining the process of combining fats and salts to make a soap-like material, and in Babylon, while excavating the ruins of the long destroyed city excavators found clay pots with inscriptions that said, “fats boiled in ashes”.
Through numerous searches, this second explanation came up again and again. One thing that makes sense to me was, we may not know how the soap first came about, we do know that people though out much of mankind’s history have been making and using it, and that the process for making it has been passed on from generation to generation.
Modern Soap Making
With modern advances in science, soap making has been changed for the better. Today we have knowledge of the properties of the oils and fats we use in a soap recipe. With this knowledge, we have the ability to calculate accurately how much lye it will take to turn certain oils and fats into soap.
In the past when our grandmothers made soap they followed a process but did not understand the differences between the oils and fats that they used and how those properties would affect the finished soap that might be the reason that many people remember using grandma’s soap as a harsh experience.
Today’s soap makers have access to the science that gives them the knowledge to work with ingredients to customize a formula that fits a particular, need. For example soaps made for cleaning the floor would probably be too harsh to use on skin, knowing how to manipulate the ingredients allow us to make soaps that more closely fit our needs, instead of one size fits all.
Plants That Can Be Used For Soap
If you think that the only way to get soap is to buy it or make it then maybe you have not heard of using plants for soap. Surprisingly enough there are many plants in our world that contain substances that make suds and can be used to cleanse, these substances are known as saponins.
In my lifetime soap nuts have been gaining popularity in this country as a naturally sustainable non-toxic laundry soap. But it can also be incorporated into to other personal care products, and there are some conscientious companies who are doing so. When using it as a laundry soap it only takes a few berries per load of laundry and can be used over again for several wash loads, making the higher cost of washing with soap nuts easier to take.
The Yucca plant primarily grows in the Southwestern deserts of the United States and was an important resource for Native Americans. Of the Yucca plant, the blossoms can be used for food, the fiber for weaving and the roots for making soap and shampoo.
Soap Nuts and Yucca both have been on my list of natural ingredients for making a more natural soap or shampoo. But these two are not the only plants that can be used to replace soap, these are only a few of the many plants in nature that could be used for a natural soap replacement.
Some Other Known Plants
- Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
- Soap Lily (Chlorogalum pomeridianum)
- The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
I don’t know a lot about these plants, but I wanted to let you know that they existed and can be alternatives to man-made soap. Of course, using plants for soap will not yield as many suds as soaps that are made with lye, but they may be all you need.
True Soap vs Detergents
Did you know that not all soap is really soap? Many soaps on the market today are not true soaps but are detergents. The big difference between true soap and a detergent is true soaps are made with animal or plant-based fats and oils and detergents are made from petrochemicals. True soaps retain the naturally occurring glycerin and detergents have the glycerin removed. True soaps are more expensive to make than detergents from petrochemicals. True soaps can be made with the finest ingredients possible and with the lowest amount of toxins…
Why Not Learn To Make Your Own?
No matter the source, most of us use some kind of soap to clean with every day, wouldn’t it be nice if you could control what goes into your soap? Why not learn to make your own non-toxic handmade soap, it can be as easy as following a recipe when you know what to do.
Making Handmade Soap Post Series
If you would like to learn to make handmade soap, follow me for the next few months as I show you step by step how to make natural non-toxic soaps from scratch. This tutorial will cover everything you need to know to make your own handmade cold process bar soap, hot process bar soap, and liquid soap.
Posts In The Series
- Making Handmade Soap – Soap What Is It?
- Making Handmade Soap – How To Make Toxic Soap
- Making Handmade Soap – Terms & Definitions
- Making Handmade Soap – Safety
- Making Handmade Soap – Equipment
- Making Handmade Soap – Supplies
- Making Handmade Soap – Recipes
- Making Handmade Soap – Cold Process
- Making Handmade Soap – Liquid Soap
Let Me Know
Please, if you have any questions post a comment below, I check comments daily…