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What Is Cold Process Soap?

Cold process soap making is the "old-fashioned" way to make soap using water, oils or fats, and a caustic.  Historically, women would save all the fat from their meat, render it down into tallow and use that to make their soap.  Back then, without all our modern conveniences that make soap making so much easier (like a stick blender and electric stove tops) soap making was a long and arduous process.  So our foremothers would typically make soap once a year at big soap making parties.  That soap would last the entire year.

I imagine that our ancestors would be shocked to learn that today, we make soap just for fun!  And cold process soap making is fun.  It's a chance to get creative as well as end up with a really gentle, luxurious, and useful product.

So, what do you need to make cold process soap?  Just a few simple ingredients actually: water, oils, and a caustic.

First, let's start with the oils.  Although you can still make soap with tallow, we have so many more fabulous options today.  Coconut oil, palm oil, and olive oil are soap-making staples, but you can use any oil (solid or liquid) that strikes your fancy.  Sweet almond, hazelnut, rosehip, cocoa butter, shea butter, and apricot oil are just a small fraction of what's available.

Then, you'll need a caustic, which in this case means 100% pure lye.  And that's enough to strike fear into all of you -- because lye is lye after all.  You can't imagine rubbing anything with lye in it over your skin.  Neither can I, actually.

Luckily, through the magic of chemistry, when cold process soap is made properly, you don't have lye in the finished product.  The oils, water, and lye have changed so that they are no longer oils, water and lye -- it's soap! 

You can finish your cold process soap off with herbs, oatmeal, clays, and more.  It can be swirled, marbled, layered, and chunked.  And once you make your first batch, guaranteed you'll become addicted to soap making.

Ready to get started?  The process is all here for you on How To Make Cold Process Soap.

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