Monday, 9 May 2011

The 3 main types of hand made soap

With all the handcrafted soaps on the market, it can be difficult to know what soaps are best to use. When it comes to handcrafting soap there are three main types of soap that can be made: Melt and Pour (MP), Hot Process (HP) and Cold Process (CP).

Melt and Pour
MP is exactly as it sounds.  You buy a base, you melt it and then you pour. Sometimes these soaps are known as glycerin soaps.  Glycerin is great for moisturising the skin as it attracts water.
If a melt and pour base does not contain any preservatives, chelating agents, sulphates or titanium, the list of ingredients will look a little like this:

INCI * Saponified Coconut Oil *
Saponified Organic Palm Oil *
Propylene Glycol (food grade) *
Vegetable Glycerin *
Sugar *
Decyl Glucose *
Lauryl Glucose *
Coco Polyglucose*
Zinc Oxide* 

These soaps are often beautifully presented in a range of colours and fragrances.  They can be identified by there opaque appearance, but can also be white
MP is an easy way to make soap and anyone can do it.  

Cold Process
CP in my opinion is the best soap to use, but the most difficult to create.  CP involves making soap from scratch.  It a chemical process which turns simple vegetable oils, and sometimes animal fats, into soap by adding lye (saponification).
This process is difficult and has many variables, however the benefits of working with this type of soap, is that you can create your own recipes to suit different body types.  You can increase conditioning, cleansing and creaminess, by selecting a variety of oils, and you can also change a soaps hardness and bubbles by altering your recipe.
CP must cure for anywhere between 4 weeks and 6 months.  This is to ensure that all the water in the bar has evaporated, the soap is at its mildest, and the bar is hard enough to use.  Any soap used before the end of cure will not only have a short life, it will also be drying on your skin.
CP soap is smooth in appearance and has a creamy look to it.  It can be multi coloured or if non dyed it will be a cream colour.

Hot Process
HP soap is similar to CP soap the only difference is the soap mixture is heated or cooked to accelerate the saponification process and decrease curing time.  Extra oils (superfats) can be added to the mixture during cooking to increase conditioning properties and HP soap is usually ready to use within a couple of weeks.
The main downfall with this type of soap is its appearance.  HP soap is 'rustic' and does not have the smooth texture consistent with CP soap and is difficult to colour.

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