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Basic Handmade Soap Terminology

For people new to buying or making handmade soaps, sometimes the terminology can be confusing. Here are a few of the basic terms you’re likely to come across and basic information on what they mean.

Cold process (cp)– This is the most traditional method. A lye (sodium hydroxide) solution with oils once they are both in a certain temperature range and stirred like mad until the mixture thickens. At this point, fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added. The mixture is then poured into molds and left to harden and finish the chemical reaction for about 24 to 48 hours, depending on the recipe. After this time, the soap is removed from the molds and then allowed to cure for about 4-6 weeks. This lets excess water from the soap evaporate and makes the soap last longer.

Hot process (hp)– Hot process is very similar to cold process, except that the lye and oil mixture is cooked over a low temperature until the reaction is complete. Fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added after the cook. The cooked mixture is then poured into molds and left to harden. The soap is safe to use immediately after it hardens, although it is best to allow the soap to cure for at least a week or two. Since some of the water evaporates during the cooking process, hp soap doesn’t have to cure for as long.

Melt and pour (mp)– This is probably the easiest for a beginner or for people uncomfortable with working with lye. A soap base that has been formulated to melt easily is melted down over low heat. Once it has thoroughly melted, fragrances, essential oils and herbs can be added. The soap is then poured into molds. This type of soap can be used as soon as the soap has sufficiently hardened.

Soap bases can be purchased from most craft stores, although you’ll generally find better quality bases from specialty suppliers.

Hand milled or rebatched– This is very similar to melt and pour except that instead of a soap base, grated soap is combined with a liquid and melted down. Some soap makers like to make plain batches of cp or hp soap and then hand mill it and add the fragrances, etc. then.

Hand milled bars can be firmer, although it really depends on the amount of liquid added and the length of time the soap is cured.

This is just a basic overview. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

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And here’s my hair


Yesterday I gave all the info on washing your hair with bar soap, so today I thought I’d show you what my hair looks like after washing it with my beer soap. This is my hair without any added conditioner, no ACV rinse and no styling products.

The picture is a little awkward, since I’m taking it myself, but I think it shows the condition of my hair nicely. Oh, and please excuse the fact that I really need a trim. It has been, oh, I’d say a year since scissors have touched my hair, and while I’m trying to grow it out, a trim is still in order.

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My Favorite Things

It’s so hard, for me at least, to buy things online without getting to see the product in person first. I thought I’d make a list of my personal favorite things about my different bars of soaps to give you an idea of what they’re really like. I’m starting with the ones I use almost every day.

Beer Soap – Smells yummy and makes my hair soft and shiny
Pine Tar Soap – Soothes and prevents my eczema flare-ups. Also makes my hair super soft when I use it as shampoo.
Tea Tree Oil Soap – Nearly eliminates my acne problems without drying out my skin.
Simply Soap Lard Soap – Great, firm all-purpose bar, the type I keep by the kitchen sink.
Unscented Aloe Soap – Super silky feeling lather that makes me feel pampered just using it.
Simply Sweet Honeysuckle Soap – Has a girly floral scent that lingers after I get out of the shower and it’s moisturizing, too.
Hazelnut Latte Soap – Mmmmmmmm, coffee. This bar also hangs out near the sinks. The coffee helps remove odors like garlic from my hands.

That’s all for now. I’ll post some more soon.

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Newly listed-Tea Tree Oil Cold Process Soap


I just listed the TTO soap in my shop. I’ve been using it on my face for a few days now, and I love it. I can’t say yet if it’s working to clear my sometimes-problem oily sensitive skin, but it leaves it feeling clean without drying it out. It does make my skin feel almost a little tingly for a minute or two afterwards from the tea tree oil, but nothing unpleasant and no visible redness or irritation.

View the Tea Tree Oil Cold Process soap in my etsy shop here. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=12047211