Ever wondered how our natural soaps are made? We spoke with Jona last week from our soap production division to get a look inside the soap-making processes that she undertakes during a day at the Microsoapery. One thing you may not have expected is that a day spent making bars of Bath Soap is very different from one spent tending vats of Liquid Soap! While both are adored for their heavenly scents and moisturizing properties, making these two very different styles of soap is like night and day.
What’s the Difference Between Bar Soap and Liquid Soap?
Yes, bar soap is solid and Liquid Soap is… well, liquid. Trust us, it goes way deeper than that.
A delicate balance of chemical reactions takes place to form the liquid and bar soaps that our customers love. When you look at the ingredients list on our soaps, you’ll see two ingredients that may seem scary at first. In our Bath Soap bars, it’s sodium hydroxide. In Liquid Soap, it’s potassium hydroxide. You may know them better as lye and potash. These ingredients transform completely when they are mixed with oil, in a reaction called saponification. The difference is in the chemical reaction. The sodium hydroxide in Bath Soap saponifies quickly, so the soap only takes a few minutes to make. It then cures slowly for 4-6 weeks to allow the water in the bar to evaporate, which makes a harder, much longer lasting bar. Potassium hydroxide in Liquid Soap saponifies at a much slower rate. It creates a translucent paste that needs to be heated at a low temperature for several hours to complete the transformation. Liquid Soap takes much longer to make, but can be used safely within 48 hours.
Patience Makes Liquid Soap Perfect
Jona calls making Liquid Soap a “labor of love”, as it takes an entire day to make one batch. Mixing 30-gallon vats requires precision, as well as patience and a watchful eye to achieve the right consistency. To make Liquid Soap, she begins by mixing potassium hydroxide into glycerin and adds a blend of high-quality plant oils once the solution reaches 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as the oils are added, the mixture starts forming soap.
Then, the team must oversee the Liquid Soap for at least five hours before beginning to perform a clarity test to ensure the saponification process is complete. When the test results are just right, distilled water is added to create the perfect consistency in the soap. After approximately 24 hours of cooling, the soap is scented with one of three scents (Cedar Sage, Gardener’s Citrus Scrub, and Lavender Lemon). These essential oil blends need a day or two to meld with the soap before it can be bottled. Because making Liquid Soap takes time and precision, we typically produce far fewer batches per week than our bar soap.