Posts Tagged ‘Ingredients’

Coconut oil is a very common ingredient in soap and bath and body products, generally referred to as a base or fixed oil.Coconut oil is a tropical oil, shipped mainly out of the Philippines. The majority of the coconut oil that we purchase is processed from the copra, which is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut.

Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and softener. It seldom causes adverse reactions. It provides bubbly lather and hardness in bars of soap. Coconut oil is often used as a carrier oil in massage oils, creams, lotions, and bath salts. Coconut oil is also touted as a health food, as it contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that is said to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

When I made my first purchases of base oils for soap making I was rather confused by the various terms associated with coconut oil. Questions arose, such as, what does fractionated mean? What is RBD? Why 76 degree? The purpose of this article is to break down some of that confusion.

Coconut Oil Terminology –

Extra Virgin Organic – the oil is derived from fresh coconut meat, meat that is not dried. This type of coconut oil is more susceptible to heat variances. The shelf life of extra virgin organic coconut oil is not as stable as the oil obtained from the dried coconut meat. This type of coconut oil can be used in cooking.

Fractionated – the oil comes from dried coconut meat. Through a steam distillation process, the triglycerides have been removed, the saturated fats remain. The oil is more heat stable, remains liquid at low temperatures. The oil has a much longer shelf life, and is much less greasy, making it more suitable for soap and skin care formulas.

RBD – the oil comes from dried coconut meat. The oil is refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD). This makes the oil suitable for bath and body formulas, however, it is not suitable for consumption. RBD coconut oil is very resistant to rancidity and oxidation.

Degrees (92, 76) – due to a hydrogenation process, the coconut oil is set to begin melting right below 92 or 76 degrees.

Coconut oil has been an interesting ingredient to research, and I learned a few things! The next article will cover palm oil. I am going to ask for some input regarding that research. There is much concern concerning the harvesting of palm and the depletion of the rain forests.

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I am thoroughly enjoying the research of the basic ingredients used in soap, lotion, and bath product formulas. We tend to get comfortable with purchasing these ingredients, and quickly forget why they are so important.

A basic ingredient in many formulas is distilled water. There are definite reasons for using distilled water (not tap, drinking, or purified water).

Distilled water is bottled water. It is obtained from boiling water and condensing the steam. The condensation is collected in a sterilized reservoir, bottle or container.

The condensation that is collected results in water that contains no chemicals, toxins, bacteria or waste. The water also contains no particles. This means that distilled water will not contaminate the sterile product that we are working to achieve, nor will it leave any residues (such as lime or hard water deposits) in our product. Treated drinking water will leave behind these types of deposits.

Since the beginning of time, distilled water has been an essential part of life. In nature, the sun heats and evaporates water, leaving impurities behind. The condensation returns to Earth in the form of precipitation, either rain or snow.

A few extra tidbits regarding distilled water..it is said that Julius Ceaser distilled water to keep his troups well hydrated. Surprisingly, it is still common in many locations for sea water to be distilled to produce clean, safe, drinking water. Interesting!

The next article will cover a base oil commonly used in soap and skin care products, coconut oil.

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Olive oil is a popular ingredient in soap and body care products.

For thousands of years, olives have been squeezed or pressed to obtain the oil. This is a photo of a Greek olive press. Many people across the world (especially in European and Mediterranean countries) are still obtaining their olive oil using this laborious method.

It is said that the Egyptians knew the moisturizing benefits of olive oil. They generously applied the oil to their skins, then scraped the oil off, which removed the dirt and left the skin softened.

It is estimated that olive oil was first used in soap around the year 1567. Today we continue to make castile soap, with olive oil being the base oil in the recipe. Castile soap is mild, moisturizing, long lasting, with a creamy low-bubble lather.

There are several types of olive oil. The main types are:

  • Virgin – the oil is derived using physical methods (olives are crushed or squeezed)
  • Refined – the oil is derived using physical methods, but is treated to reduce strong tastes and acids
  • Pomace – the oil is extracted from crushed olives (the pomace) using chemical solvents, then it is refined to make it edible (generally used in commercial kitchens)

Olive oil has many external and internal beneficial properties. Olive oil is an antioxidant, is very cleansing internally to the body. Olive oil can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels, especially when olive oil replaces unhealthy fats in the diet. Olive oil is very well known for skin moisturizing, especially adding benefits to mature skin. Olive oil is not known to clog the skin pores.

In soap, olive oil is used as a base oil (alone) or with other base oils to help harden the finished product, and to provide extra moisturizing properties to the soap. In lotion and cream products, olive oil leads to a thicker, richer base, and is very beneficial for dry skin.

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Today I am going to begin a series of articles that will explain common ingredients that are used in the making of soap, skin and bath products.

Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

Lye (NaOH, sodium hydroxide) is a white caustic soda easily dissolved in water and other liquids.

The lye that is purchased commercially today is derived from running an electrical current through salt water.

Lye is commonly used in various methods of soap making. It is also used in the manufacturing of pulp and paper, detergents, textiles, vegetable oil refining, and water treatments.

Lye is classed as being in the upper limit of the PH scale, and is highly dangerous once it is added to a liquid. Lye and water, for example, produces heat, and can burn skin and eyes, therefore, precautionary measures (such as goggles and gloves) are absolutely necessary when working with the product. Lye can also react to a small amount of moisture, such as humidity in the air. The product must always be kept in an airtight container. If spilled, it must immediately be disposed of properly.

Soap has been around for thousands of years, but for the sake of writing space, we are going to go back to the colonial and pioneer eras to look into the history of how soap was made. Soap was available in general stores in the 1850’s, but many women made soap at home during that era. It was not uncommon for a group of women to gather together to make soap in very large batches a couple of times a year.

My first question was, how did the families make their own lye? People heated their homes and cooked using fire. The hardwood ash remaining from those fires was the base ingredient in lye. The ash was placed in a box or kettle, sometimes called a “leacher” box, set up just for lye making purposes. Water was then added to the ash. Slowly, sometimes for an entire day, the water leached through the ash. The final product was lye (the leached water) which was collected for soap making.

In the early logs in history, it is told that fat from meat processing was rendered, cleaned and filtered, and added to the lye, which began the saponification process (the process of fats turning to soap). As the mixture thickened it was poured into large crates. Days later the soap was cut into bars. The bars were left to cure, become mild, and harden, which took approximately a month to complete.

We are much more precise in our soap making processes today. Many of us use vegetable oils in our soap recipes. Many of us test our soaps, so we know that our end product (soap that has cured for 6 weeks) is very mild, with a low pH value. Our basic process lye+fat has not changed in a considerable way, but the result is a much cleaner, uniform, and skin loving product.

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