Saponification – How to Make Soap

What is saponification? It is a scientific term, often, used when making homemade soap. Saponification is a chemical reaction that occurs between oil and lye. What is it important? Each soap making oil has certain saponification values and properties which contribute to more than making soap. These oils help to form many homemade skin care products such as: soaps, lotions, creams, foot scrubs, shampoos, face cream, lip balms, and more! Understanding saponification, its values and how ingredients work together will help you choose the right ingredients for your homemade skin care products. What should you consider?

Soap making oils contain different acidic ingredients: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, linoleic, oleic and ricinoleic. Each of these ingredients are contained in soap making oils at different percentages. When you consider the percentage values, of each ingredient, it will help you make the right soap making choice for your homemade skin care products. For example, lauric, myristic, palmitic and stearic acids help to provide a hard bar of soap. Most people would rather have a hard bar of soap instead of something soft and mushy. If you want soap that provides a nice fluffy lather then you may consider using a soap making oil containing lauric, myristic, or ricinoleic acids. If you would rather have soap that did not lather, fully, but had a stable, subdued, lather then palmitic, stearic or ricinoleic acids would be a good choice. If you are making soap, lotions or other homemade skin care products with added conditioning properties then linoleic and oleic acids would be beneficial.

Saponification values are given for homemade bar soap with the abbreviations NoAH. They are, also, given for homemade liquid soap with the abbreviations KOH. The science definitions for NoAH is sodium hydroxide and for KOH, it is potassium hydroxide. NoAH and KOH saponification values occur for many different soap making oils. It is important to consider each value before making homemade soap or any homemade skin care product!

Saponification is the key to understanding the scientific formation of soap. Handmade soaps are formulated using a combination of emollient oils and butters, such as: olive, avocado, cocoa or shea butter. The lathering oils may be added such as: coconut or palm kernel oils. All of these oils are mixed together with liquid saturated lye. How will you know when the saponification process is complete? You will know because there will be no more lye left in the mixture. In reality, each type of soap making oil requires a different amount of lye to produce the complete reaction. Today’s savonnier has tools to calculate exact ratios of specific oils to lye.

When making homemade soap or any homemade skin care products you should heed all warnings! Potent chemicals such as essential oils and lye should always be respected. Make sure you take the proper safety precautions before using these chemicals. Large amounts of essential oils should never be used externally or internally. They should never be used straight, but should be diluted in a carrier oil, soap, lotion or other buffering agent. Never use essential oils without knowing what their bioactive compounds are known to do. When handling lye make sure you are wearing proper safety coverings. Lye can cause extremely painful burns if it contacts skin. If you happen to spill lye, clean the entire area with white vinegar to neutralize its effects.

It is important to know, you should not substitute oils in soap making recipes. Why? Each soap making oil has a specific saponification value, which specifies the number of lye molecules needed to turn a molecule of oil into soap. If there is extra lye left in the soap, it will be too harsh and will damage your skin. This is why understanding the meaning of saponification and how it works is so very important when making homemade soap or any homemade skin care products!

If you are a beginner or veteran soap maker you can learn how to make soap, at home, with a master soap maker! You can waste a lot of time, money and energy trying to figure out the soap making process on your own. A master soap maker can help you get started or refresh your memory! Making homemade skin care products is a serious matter, so learn how to make soap from someone with years of experience and plenty of patience! A master soap maker can help save you time, money and lots of heartaches. You can achieve soap making success with the proper guidance!


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