Vermont Organic Soap Vermont Organic Soap
Vermont Organic Soap

Purely, Made in Vermont

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How to Make Soap

Here’s a brief rundown of the chemistry that makes soap:

Many people are curious and often ask, "How do you make soap"? The answer is simple. Combining oils, alkali and water allows them to chemically react, producing soap and glycerin.  At Vermont Soap Organics, we put the glycerin back in the mixture, thereby amplifying the moisturizing effects of our product.

How do you turn soap into a bar?

Back in the good old days, soap smiths ran rainwater through hardwood ashes (in Africa and the south Pacific, they used plantain ashes and coconut husk; here in New England, people made due with maple and oak).  This resulted in a potassium hydroxide solution. Bar soaps are fashioned out of sodium hydroxide, which is the result of running electricity through salt water.  Today, soap smiths still use processes very much like those used many years ago.

How does lather work?

Soap is an interesting material.  The oily side of it repels water and the alkali side is attracted to it. When you put soap into water, these Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde properties cause soap to lather.

What’s the deal with glycerin?

Surprisingly, glycerin is actually more beneficial than soap itself, and without it, soap dries your skin.  When you combine glycerin with the right amount of oil and water in a soap mixture, it’s like having a hand lotion that soothes in your bar of soap that cleans.  Despite these wonderful effects, the makers of milled soaps still add salt to their recipes, removing glycerin from their product.  In many cases, the excess glycerin is then used as an agent in the production of cosmetics and food, or it is injected into cigarette paper because it makes for even burning.

Tell me a bit more about these clear glycerin bars.

If you boil soap in alcohol and sugars, or if you induce high and pressure, it becomes transparent.  This makes for higher glycerin levels and lower pH, but it also means that a bar will often contain skin-drying agents (such as artificial colors, fragrances, and alcohol) and that the bar will dissolve more easily.  Even alleged “vegetable glycerin bars” consist of propylene glycol (antifreeze) and triethanolalamine (TEA)—far from the “natural” label they so boldly claim.

I’ve heard the phrase “French milled.”  What exactly does it mean?

After stainless steel was first discovered, a common use involved running a soap base between two steel rollers.  Once soap smiths began running hot and cold water through the same rollers, French milled soap was created.  These high-caliber soaps, although they are not milder than handmade soaps, are still mild indeed, and the French milled bars last longer.

So where do Vermont Organic Soaps fit into all this?

There really is nothing better than a handmade, "poured" soap.  We mix our soap in small quantities and then pour it into wooden moulds; when we take it out, we have an opaque, high-caliber bath and body bar.  The benefits of our traditional process are manifold.  First, our bars keep for nearly twice as long as most of the mass-produced soaps.  Vermont Organic soaps are also mild enough for even the most sensitive, easily irritated skin.  Those who suffer from eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or who are receiving chemotherapy treatment, often find great relief by switching to our soaps.

This is the conundrum: if alkali and oil do not successfully amalgamate, the soap is then full of alkali salts (sodium hydroxide and oxygen), which, as we've explained, have a high pH that contributes to skin dryness.  Commercial soaps are often riddled with these salts, despite the fact that approximately 25% of the population is sensitive to them.

So the Vermont soap smiths set out to devise a soap that is devoid of alkali salts—no easy task, indeed.  Translucent glycerin soap bars do have low alkali salt levels, but they have short shelf lives, and their alcohol content can irritate sensitive skin.

After extensive research, Vermont Organic Soaps identified 8 soap properties that can induce dry skin:

  • Free Alkalai
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial Fragrances
  • Artificial Colors
  • Too much coconut oil content
  • Base ingredients of poor quality
  • Preservatives
  • Specific essential oils

So, we wondered, how might we go about creating a bar of soap with lots of glycerin and no alcohol without requiring artificial colors and fragrances to cover up shoddy base ingredients?

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To find the answer we went on a blast from the past…

CLICK HERE to read About History of Soap

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