A Chemical Study Of Oils And Fats Of Animal Origin The Basic Soap Making Ingredients

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The Basic Soap Making Ingredients

Soap making is a delicate process, but the ingredients used to make soap are quite simple: oils, dressings, water, fragrances, colorings and other optional additives. Fats and oils used in soap can be derived from animal or vegetable fats. Typically, soaps made from vegetable oils are milder than soaps made with animal fat. The most useful oils for soap making are fixed oils – oils that can be raised to a high temperature without evaporating. Fixed oils include a variety of base oils, such as olive, palm and coconut oil.

There are two types of fats used in soap making: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats make a strong soap.

They usually come in solid form and must be thawed before use; cocoa and shea butter are good examples of saturated fat. Unsaturated fats, like some vegetable oils, come in liquid form and are usually used to make liquid soap. To use these fats to make soap, they must be mixed with saturated fat; the more saturated fat you use, the stronger the bar will be.

Historically, lye (also called sodium hydroxide, potash, or caustic soda) was extracted by hand from wood ash. It is now commonly found in many hardware and grocery stores. It is the ingredient that hydrolyzes oils or fats and turns them into soap.

Minerals and other additives in tap water make it less than ideal for soap making. Therefore, it is best to use distilled, bottled or spring water. There are two types of fragrance oils: essential oils and fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are man-made and contain alcohol, so they are usually avoided; the alcohol and other chemicals in the oil can dry or irritate the skin and cause unforeseen problems with the saponification process, or ruin the soap mixture altogether.

Essential oils are more expensive and sometimes harder to find; however, a smaller amount is required (usually just a drop or two) and they retain their flavor better because they are undiluted. Research oils thoroughly before use; some can be irritating to the skin, or even toxic. Also, different amounts are needed for different oils because some will overpower others if the same amount is used for all.

Avoid potpourri, candle scented oils, and other strong, commercially produced fragrances, as they often contain harsh chemicals that can also irritate the skin. Whole or crushed herbs can also be used, but they will not provide their full benefits in the first batch of soap; if you use herbs, the best thing to do is to redistribute the soap later, to get the full benefit of the herbs.

Dyes can be purchased at a soap supply store.

There are also various other natural ingredients that you can use to color your soap, such as powdered clay, cocoa powder, tea, paprika, saffron or ratanjos. Avoid using fabric dyes, hair dyes, candle dyes or dyes to color your soap; even if labeled as “non-toxic”, they are not safe for prolonged skin contact and can stain your skin.

Some sources say that crayons can be added to soap for coloring, as long as they are made of stearic acid (most crayons produced now are), but there is some debate on the subject; it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and avoid using them.

Depending on the oils used in the recipe, the resulting soap may be prone to spoilage.

Various preservatives can be used, such as vitamins E, C and A, which are also great for your skin. These vitamins can be found in various oils. Sand or pumice can be added to the soap to make it exfoliating. Also, some metals, such as titanium, silver, nickel or aluminum can be added for antibacterial properties and to make the soap bright white.

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