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How My Soap Is Made


I have many customers ask, "How do you make soap"? I have included some basic information for you here.

I make my soap the old fashion way, similar to how your grandparents may have made it on the farm or homestead.  My Grandpa Ben was a poor farm boy in Oklahoma and he and his brother helped my Great Grandmother make soap for washing and cleaning around the house
 I would like to think that I am continuing with old fashioned, traditional, family work and culture.
Please note, this is not my family picture - my grandfathers family was soo poor, they did not own a camera. We have NO pictures of my grandfather when he was a boy.  None.  In fact, the first picture we have of him was when he joined the Navy (underage and underweight) and went off to WWII to escape his poor farm boy life.
The biggest difference in soap now from way-back-when, is that now I use only food grade, all vegetables oils in my soaps. Years ago measurements were "casual" and often animal fats were used in soap making.  At Casco Bay Soap Co. a special blend of good-for-your skin oils such as Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter and more blend together to produce a mild, moisturizing, creamy bar of soap. Here is how it is done.....
I melt our special chosen oils together in a kettle.  (My own secret recipe blend).  I actually make 6-9 batches at a time.  So I have 3 kettles for mixing up soap going all at the same time.
When the time is right, I add in the lye. In the soap making process, sodium hydroxide, also called lye, is added to the oils/fats.  I add a perfectly measured amount to entirely “saponify” the oils and turn them into great, mild and creamy soap. No lye remains in the bar.
And simply: no lye = no soap.

A bit on LYE...
True soap cannot be made without lye (Sodium Hydroxide).

I know: Lye = scary, harsh, chemicals….before you “gasp” with fright, please read on.

Although lye is used in the soap making process, the finished product contains NO LYE.

Lye, when mixed with the wonderful, beneficial oils used in Casco Bay Soap Co. soaps, goes through a chemical change or process called saponification. The lye is gone and all you have left is a wonderful soap that will clean your skin. You can not have this chemical reaction occur if you do not use lye. Yes, Lye is harsh, but once the chemical reaction happens and the bars are cured, you are rewarded with some amazing soaps.  It's Science!
 
If you come across a soap maker who tells you they do not use lye in their soap, there could be 2 reasons why. First of all, they are using a base or someone else’s pre-made soap. Or secondly, they do not want to disclose for whatever reason, that there is lye in their soap.

It is not listed on our labels, because simply, it is not there when you are holding a bar of our soap in your hands. All the lye is gone and you are left with just saponified oils.
Yes, even the large commercial manufactures, even bars of baby soap are made using lye or an ingredient that is a chemical, to change the oils from something that is greasy, to something that will now clean your skin. Lye, when used properly is not a bad thing. You can't make soap without it.
OR, quite often, the larger commercial manufacturers are compressing detergents, chemicals and powders into what looks like a bar of soap, but it is not really soap.  And often not labeled as soap but maybe something else....beauty bar, cleansing bar, body + face bar, bath bar etc. 
I then add either essential oils or fragrance oils, or a combination of both. I also add any botanicals, coloring (in the form of micas and oxides) herbs, maybe oatmeal etc., depending on which type of soap we are making.

I pour our my soap mixture into custom made log shaped molds (my dad and my husband made my soap molds for me). Each mold will make about 30 bars of soap. The soap is a thick pudding consistency at this point. The soap will now transform, or saponify, into a more dense consistency overnight.

I take the log of soap out of the mold and cut them into bars. They have now stiffened up, like a block of cheddar cheese consistency and cut them into approximately 1 inch slices and then allow them to cure for 4-6 weeks. This means the water is evaporating to help make a longer lasting hard bar of soap.

Once your order is placed, I put on the soap labels.  My cute anchor labels (which I designed myself!) include the soap fragrance, contact information, ingredients and a small description about my soaps.
 
All of my soaps are handmade in small batches and everything is done by hand start to finish to ensure the highest quality product possible. Depending on the batch of soap, there could be slight variations in color, amount of botanicals in the soap, size of the bar etc. This is the sign of a true handmade product!

Glycerin is a natural by-product of “cold process” soap making. Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attract moisture.  Commercial soap manufacturers often remove glycerin for more profitable uses. This glycerin is often then added into lotions or creams, for you to buy after the commercial bars of soap lacking glycerin has dried your skin out. What a cycle!  My old fashion soap retains this glycerin (I simply can not extract it, and why should I?) and it will help leave your skin clean, soft and moisturized.

We hope you enjoy our soap as much as our friends and family do.  If I could get a bar of soap into the hands of my great-grandmother, I think she would be pleased!  Thanks for reading and learning more about soap. 
 
Warmly, 
Shannon