What is soap?
Soap-making is simple. Soap is the result of a chemical reaction between a fatty substance and a strong base (caustic soda, in the case of solid soap). Each of these phases (oily phase and aqueous phase) are mixed in specific quantities at very precise temperatures. Most oils and butters are composed of triglycerides (fatty acids). Upon contact with soda, they turn into soap. This chemical reaction is called “saponification.”
Cold soap-making is a handmade process that is done at room temperature. Since no heating is involved, 100% of the glycerin produced during the saponification reaction remains in the soap paste. It is this glycerin that gives soap its essential moisturizing properties, for the delight of your skin!
Saponification is a slow but complete exothermic reaction. The long ambient air drying period (a minimum of 30 days) allows the saponification process to be successfully completed. This allows the soap to dry and harden naturally, without any synthetic additives. The longer the soap is allowed to dry, the longer its shelf life will be. Just like good wine!
The cold manufacturing method is different from the hot manufacturing method. The latter is used in large industries because it makes it possible to manufacture soap very quickly. However, very often, the glycerin produced during saponification is extracted for use in other cosmetic applications. The benefits of cold-process handmade soap bars are indisputable: They have a longer shelf life, are more moisturizing, contain no additives… and are made with love!
The fatty substance used to make soap is where it all begins. It is therefore crucial to choose it carefully because provides the soap with its essential qualities. The oils, butters or fats may be of plant or animal origin (e.g. old-fashioned soap). At Quai des Bulles, we are particularly fond of rice bran oil for its moisturizing properties, as well as its “saponifiable” properties. It produces a harder soap (long shelf life), which is very much appreciated!
Spring water (ideally demineralized) is used to dilute the sodium hydroxide (soda) that is needed to make soap. This mixture should be handled with care as it is extremely caustic and corrosive. However, following the curing (drying) period, the soda will have completely reacted with the oils to turn them into soap. Ready-to-use soap therefore no longer contains any soda (provided you have the perfect recipe!).
The addition of active ingredients
Once the oily and aqueous phases have been combined and the chemical reaction of saponification has been initiated, active ingredients such as essential oils, herbs, exfoliants and colours are added to the soap paste. These may include mineral dyes (oxides, clays, etc.), plant dyes (crushed or powdered plants, activated charcoal, cocoa, etc.), essential or scented oils or any other ingredient that adds a little something to the soap (algae, aloe, pumice stone, grains, etc.)
Made in the Purest Tradition
Our soaps are handcrafted using the traditional cold saponification method. We manufacture our soaps in small batches to ensure quality. We inspect each of the bars, one by one, and rotate the inventory. We carefully select quality active ingredients that give each soap distinct, unique properties.