Traditional Oil & Lye Soap
This is my favorite and personal preference. These soaps are made using a combination of water (or other liquid such as milk), oils, butters, animal fats, and lye.
But don’t let the word “lye” scare you. Lye is simply an alkali (for solid bar soaps Sodium Hydroxide is used…..for liquid soaps Potassium Hydroxide is used…..for cream soaps a combination of both is used) that reacts with the oils, butters, and water to create SOAP through a chemical process called Saponification. Once this chemical reaction takes place completely there is NO ACTIVE LYE left in the soap at all. It is completely consumed by the saponification process. This is, of course, assuming all measurements, processes, and calculations have been done properly by the soap maker. The end product is a real bar of SOAP that is not going to strip the skin of its natural oils and will instead be moisturizing and softening to the skin. Through this process, the soap maker may add additional ingredients that are beneficial to the skin such as honey, herb-infused oils, clays, oatmeal, essential oils, plant extracts, aloe, and many other skin-loving ingredients depending on the formulation and the customer needs and desires. Most soap makers love to experiment with ingredients including colors so you’re likely to see a lot of variety in the look of a traditionally made bar of soap. Soap makers are a wildly creative bunch.
An ingredient listing on a bar of soap made using this method may read something like this:
Ingredients: Goat Milk, Coconut Oil, Lard, Rice Bran Oil, Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Oatmeal, Honey, Fragrance.
This is an example of what goes in the pot is what goes on the label. Notice that these ingredients show “Sodium Hydroxide”. Because the lye goes through saponification it is no longer actually “lye” but is listed on the label because it went INTO the pot. Some soap makers will opt for listing their ingredients in this manner.
There are also many soap makers that prefer to list the ingredients using their saponified names as the example below will show:
Ingredients: Goat Milk, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Lardate, Sodium Ricate, Sodium Castorate, Sodium Shea Butterate, Sodium Cocoa Butterate, Oatmeal, Honey, Fragrance.
You will notice in the second example the term “Sodium Hydroxide” is not present in the ingredient listing. This is because this listing is not based on what goes INTO the pot but rather what comes OUT of the pot after the saponification process is complete.
Either method of labeling is acceptable. We mention it because it can be a bit confusing and scary when you see “lye” listed on a label. We want to be sure that it is understood that there is no active lye left in the final product of soap when made properly. The Soap Hut lists the ingredients that go INTO the pot so you will see Sodium Hydroxide listed on our soap labels.
But what makes a traditional soap bar so much better than a detergent bar? Easy peasy…..it’s all those wonderful, skin-loving oils that go into the pot that makes this the best choice of all.