I’m going to make a comparison between handmade soap and commercial soap, if there is a comparison to make, because a piece of handmade soap is a unique piece that differs from bar to bar even in the same batch of soap! Isn’t that awesome? You and only you have a unique piece of art in your hands, affordable and even better, an eco-friendly product!
Handmade soap is made with an alkali known as base. When the base reacts with the acids or oils, it results in a chemical reaction called saponification, which produces a by-product known as glycerin. At this point, both handmade soaps and commercial soaps are the same. While water is the most common vehicle in commercial soaps, in handmade soap other liquids can be used. These could include flattened beer, strong brewed coffee, teas, hydrosols, floral water, milk, seawater and many more. Glycerin is retained in handmade soaps (about 10%, depending on the oils that were used). However, in commercial soaps, the glycerin content is removed and sold to the cosmetic industry – it is highly priced and highly prized. But what is glycerin? Besides being a by-product, glycerin attracts humidity to our biggest organ: the skin. There are many uses for glycerin.
In a commercial soap, it is difficult to control the ingredients and the quantities because of the large production. In a handmade soap you’re buying a soap that is made with specified ingredients – there is more control about what you’re using on your skin. Many oils and/or butters are used in handmade soap. In commercial bars of soap there is a short list of oils or acids to make soap, but there are plenty of detergents.
Commercial soaps have fragrances but these could be artificial and even cause severe allergic reactions, adverse skin conditions and more. Handmade soaps are available unscented as well as with fragrances too. But the fragrances are usually phthalate-free and of course often feature essential oils with all their benefits. Sometimes the aroma of the essential oils is not noticeable because essential oils are volatile oils and they could evaporate over time.
Preservatives, especially parabens are used in commercial soaps while the good news is that most of handmade soaps don’t include any type of preservatives - ours do not. Others can include antioxidants, for example Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Rosemary Extract or Grapefruit Seed Extract Oil.
Remember that when you buy a commercial soap, you’re making someone richer. But when you buy handmade soap, you’re supporting a family and you’re receiving a product that has a story to tell.