Skin is the largest organ of the body, and the first defense against bacteria, viruses, and harmful chemicals. While that is not the reason I started making soap, having a healthy product is the reason why I continued developing soap into a product.
The reason why I started making soap in the first place? Memes. What meme is out there that's greater than pone? I would venture to say that pone has transcended meme status, capstoned with the word snowpity.
When I started making soap, I literally knew nothing about the process, chemistry nor technique. How difficult can it be; its just like making candles, right?
Here is where I hope to give you an idea just how much is involved with making a good bar of soap.
What is soap?
Soap is a naturally made detergent. A detergent is a molecule that will bind to water, oil, and particles such as minerals found in hard water.
The US legal definition is 'soap made from natural ingredients'. Synthetic soap (technically detergents) is often sold as 'beauty bars' or 'body wash' instead of soap, because they are not made with natural ingredients. All detergents and soaps are surfactants
The chemical reaction
Oils are fatty acids. When mixing any acid and any base together, there is a chemical reaction. In this case, a strong base like sodium hydroxide mixed with a weak acid (fatty acid oils) results in a slightly basic bar of soap. Because naturally made soap is weakly basic(ph of 10-12), people with certain kinds of skin conditions would be better off getting a synthetic bar of soap that is PH-neutral (PH of 7).
Lye is a very strong base. One of the things this means is that it attracts water out of the atmosphere. For this reason, store lye in a properly sealed container, and/or put the lye container in a bigger container that is full of water absorbent things. Putting water absorbent things directly in the lye won't work, the lye will suck the water out of them.
Lye also loves to react with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make "soda ash". Soda ash is also known as washing soda, or more properly, sodium carbonate. Soda ash will form on soap if you don't mix it enough to jell or use a lot of water so the soap takes a long time to set up and cure. It forms on the surface of the bar of soap as its curing, and if its really bad will be a "furry layer" on the top of the soap.
Potassium hydroxide is used for making liquid soaps, sodium hydroxide for solid soap bars. Sometimes both is used to make a softer specialty soap, such as a shaving soap or possibly a massage soap.
There are quite a bit of soap products out there that advertise as being anti-bacterial. Some are even naturally made soaps. All this means is they add a chemical that is so harmful to biology that it kills bacteria. Some anti-bacterial agents are more toxic than others. For the most part, only synthetic soaps use such additives because they are typically PH-neutral, so bacteria can actually grow on them.
Naturally made soap is weakly basic, and (more or less) does not have this issue. Weak bases and acids at a certain PH threshold will keep most bacteria from growing.
I've been asked by a lot of people "Why don't you make shampoo?" The short version is that I don't want to use synthetic agents in a soap that ultimately harms hair more than doing it good.
But why was shampoo derived to begin with? This is a somewhat complicated question. I hope you will understand by the end, and what I do as an alternative to having clean healthy looking hair.
The hair fiber, on the microscopic level, has little growth scales. These growth scales flare out when exposed to a weak base such as baking soda or naturally made soap. This promotes tangles and gives a very dull looking mane or tail. Shampoo was developed to be PH-neutral or even slightly acidic. Hair, when exposed to a weak acid, will instead cause those microscopic growth scales to smooth down and feel silky to the touch. The problem lies in the synthetic chemicals to clean the hair with. Most of the time shampoo is fine for cleaning hair, but is toxic for the skin growing the hair. Hair can't be removed for cleaning and reattached!
What I started doing is washing my hair with regular bars of naturally made soap, rinsing out the soap, then using a squeezy bottle (such as those plastic ketchup/sauce bottles found in restaurants) filled with distilled vinegar and applying it to my scalp, then rinsing the vinegar out. The vinegar does several things: conditions the hair, rinses out any soap scum (soap bonded with minerals in water) that might have formed, and rinses away dandruff.
Many people have tried this alternative to shampoo and have had great success. I have not heard of anybody saying they didn't like the results either.
After the bath or shower, I like to comb some oil (jojoba & castor oil mixed) in my hair to keep it soft, supple, and silky through the entire day.
The fatty acid oils that go into a natural bar of soap have different qualities to them. This necessatates the soap crafter to use a mix of oils to make a nice well-rounded bar of soap crafted to best fit what the soap is being used for. Hard water and Salty water are examples of different use-cases that would drastically change what oils are used. Generally, soap includes a mix of high-saturated fats and low-saturated fats.
The problem arises with the low-saturated fatty acids. Low-saturated acids spoil really quickly. Large manufacturers of such oils generally add two chemicals: One is to try to keep the oil from spoiling so fast, the other, generally citric acid, is to mask when it actually does go bad. Making soap with such oils does not preserve the life of the oil, nor does it hurt the lifetime either. Bad oil in soap shows up as bright yellow or orange spots, and if its bad enough will feel slimy and stink.
Most don't live next to the manufacturing facility of low-saturated oil, so they get whatever is on the shelf of grocery stores that has likely passed a year, possibly more, since its manufacture date. High-saturated fats do not spoil nearly as quickly and as such have a much longer shelf life. This is most evident when making soap because of how visible the bad oils is.
After I started making soap, I only cook my food with high-saturated fats.
The word snowpity is used to describe the most profound essence of a mare. Different people take it to mean different things because the depth of mare is so great it is difficult for any single person to describe it in its totality. The fragrance oils I use in my soap are imported from Equus, and is one very small aspect of a mares snowpity. I've been told that the mares ask the changelings to take more because it feels so nice.