Last updated: June 16, 2020

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The tradition of making soap has been around for millions of years. The production of soap dates back to ancient Babylon, around 2800 A.C. All of the great civilizations had different ways of making handmade soap. To this day, Soap is still a key element to our hygiene but is usually made in a factory.

Handmade soaps continue this old tradition. They provide you with a small list of ingredients that allows you to know exactly what you are using to wash your body and face. Buying these soaps will allow you to support local and small businesses. This is even better if you look for a business that fights for fair trade.

Key Facts

  • There is a great variety of handmade soaps on the market. When you are looking for the right one for you, you should always keep in mind the type of oils they use, how they make their soap and other ingredients that they add. We will provide you a list of great handmade soaps on the market and a shopping guide to help you choose the best soap for you.
  • Saponification is the chemical reaction that creates soap. To trigger this reaction, soap makers combine a fat or oil (animal fat or vegetable oil) with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide or potassium). This mixture is cooled down or heated up, and the reaction creates what we know as soap.
  • Handmade soaps can be made of animal fat or vegetable oil. They both contain glycerin, a natural hand moisturizer. Depending on the added oils and ingredients, homemade soap can contain antioxidants that will help make your hands look and feel better.

Our Selection of the Best Handmade Soap in the U.S. Market

Looking for a handmade soap for your daily routine can be very difficult. There are many different options, ingredients, and ways that the soap is made. There are a few products that stand out and we have made a list to help you with your search. One of the soaps below could be a great option for you!

Best Amish Handmade Soap

The first item on our list is an “Amazon’s Choice.” It is made from natural ingredients and is authentically Amish, meaning that the soap is created using the same wooden techniques and family recipes for generations of families. You can use this soap for many purposes, for your hands, hair, and even on your pets! It is many products in one. That’s right! It is safe to use for all of these things because it does not contain harsh chemicals.

Best Vegan Handmade Soap

This product is 100% vegan, meaning that it uses no animal products. It is an awesome choice if you are vegan, vegetarian, or trying to cut down on the animal products you consume. This product uses essential oils and comes in a variety pack of 6 bars. It is great for self-use and presents as well. This is a great option because it comes with a lot of soap.

Best Lavender Handmade Soap

The last homemade soap on our list is great if you feel stressed out. It is made out of lavender and basil. Lavender is an essential oil used to treat anxiety and stress. This soap comes with just one bar or 4 bars, depending on your order. It is a cold processed soap. This soap will cleanse you, keep you feeling stress-free, and will even treat minor cuts.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Homemade Soap

There are many types of soap on the U.S. market, but some contain chemicals that can damage your skin or that are harmful to the environment. Homemade soap is a great option for your daily life. In this shopping guide, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions from buyers like you.

Handmade soaps have many benefits that are perfect for your daily beauty routine.
(Source: Dinis Tolipov: 94679961/ 123rf.com)

What is handmade soap and what benefits does it have?

Handmade soaps are products that are homemade through simple tools. They are not made in a factory. Handmade soaps come from the earliest civilizations and there are many different ways to craft this type of soap.

The chemical reaction that is used to create this type of soap is called saponification. Soap makers mix fat or oil with sodium hydroxide or potassium to achieve this reaction. To create the reaction there is a hot process and a cold process. Depending on what process you use you will get liquid soap or bar soap.

William OslerDoctor

“Soap, water, and common sense are the best disinfectants”.

Homemade soaps have many benefits. First of all, handmade soap uses natural fats or oils as a base for the soap. This can be a vegetable oil, animal fat, or a mix. This type of oil and fat have antioxidants that help keep your skin healthy. Homemade soaps usually do not have additives or preservatives that can damage or dry out your skin.

Advantages
  • Homemade process
  • You support local businesses
  • The glycerin hydrates your skin
  • Made from natural ingredients
  • Environment-friendly
  • Great for sensitive skin
Disadvantages
  • Can be more expensive

How are homemade soaps made?

There are three main ingredients that soap makers use to create homemade soap: vegetable oil or animal fat, caustic soda (sodium hydroxide or potassium) and water. When these three ingredients are mixed together, there is a chemical reaction called saponification. The triglycerides that make up the fat or oil are separated into fatty acids and glycerin.

When the sodium hydroxide or potassium comes to contact with water, it naturally heats up. When this mixture stabilizes it is added to the oil or fat. Depending on how hot the mixture becomes, this process is called the cold or hot process.

Bar soap does not usually need preservatives.
(Source: Oksana Mironova: 108302038/ 123rf.com)

When this process is finished you are left with fatty acids, glycerin, fat or oil, and some water. The soap maker can then add artificial fragrances or artificial or natural coloring. Bar soap does not usually require preservatives. Some liquid soap may require them because of the high amount of water.

Cold process Hot process
Basic ingredients Animal fat or vegetable oil, sodium hydroxide. Animal fat or vegetable oil, sodium hydroxide or potassium.
Process The mixture of water and sodium hydroxide heats up due to a chemical reaction. The soap maker waits for the mixture to cool down and the fat or oil is heated up until it reaches the same temperature as the mixture. The two mixtures are combined and left alone. They are not heated any further during the saponification. The same mixture is created but is then heated up over a stove or in an oven to speed up the process of saponification.
Added ingredients Some ingredients are unstable in this mixture and cannot be easily added. Some of these products are: flower petals, vanilla and fruit fragrances, and more. Fragrances, coloring, and other ingredients should be added immediately due to the quick process.
Time until ready Up to 6 weeks. Up to 48 hours.
Results Even soap. Soap makers can easily add different colors. Since the saponification is a lot faster, the soap can become lumpy.

What type of fat or oils are used to make handmade soap?

Handmade soaps usually have a vegetable oil or animal fat base. The animal fat is most commonly made out of pig or cow fat. If you prefer, you can always find many vegetarian or vegan handmade soaps on the market. These soaps are ideal for people who do not want to consume animal products.

There are many types of vegetable oils that can be used to make handmade soaps. Among these types are: palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. Many soap makers create mixtures of two or more of these oils to make soap with many health benefits.

Melanie TeegardenTeacher and soap maker at Althaea Soaps

“Rebatching is the process of shredding down and processing soap with heat until a molten, homogenous state is reached”.

What benefits can a homemade soap have on my skin?

Industrial soap usually goes through a process that strips the soap of the glycerin that comes from the saponification. The glycerin is then often added to facial creams. The soap that is created does not have any glycerin. This means that it loses a lot of skin and body benefits that come from the glycerin. On the other hand, homemade soaps keep the glycerin and are much more beneficial.

The glycerin that is made through the saponification process is very hydrating, so homemade soaps will naturally hydrate your skin much more than industrial soap. Also, glycerin is non-comedogenic. This will prevent acne breakouts on your back and other parts of your body.

How can I use homemade soap in my daily beauty routine?

Homemade soaps are great to keep at your sink at all times. They can help you to wash your hands and, unlike industrially-made soap, do not contain the artificial ingredients or chemicals that can dry out your hands. You can also use these soaps on your body, not just your hands! These products will help you to take care of your skin in a more natural way and keep it hydrated.

There are homemade bar soaps that you can use to clean your face as well. However, keep in mind that you should look at the list of ingredients before using the soap on your face. There are some skin types that dry out with the use of soap, so be careful.

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Did you know that glycerin is a product of saponification? It is a natural moisturizer and is very beneficial to your skin.

What effects do handmade soaps have on the environment?

Soap makers use natural products to make handmade soap. They add little to no preservatives and usually do not put any chemical additives into the soap. This is why handmade soaps are an excellent option if you are looking to lessen the damage you have on the environment. The way the soap is made and the parts of the soap that go into the aquifers are all very environmentally friendly.

Look for vegetarian or vegan handmade soaps. These handmade soaps in addition to being made of natural ingredients, do not use any animal products. Also, handmade soaps do not come in plastic containers. This way, you will not be creating any unnecessary plastic waste with your purchase, which is even better for our earth.

Shopping Criteria

Looking for the right handmade soap can be a difficult task if you do not know how to begin your search. There are many options on the market and it can be difficult to decide. In this section, we will give you a list of factors that you should keep in mind when looking for a soap to include in your routine or simply to have at your sink.

Base Fats or Oils

As we have already mentioned, soap is mainly made with a fat base, vegetable oil or animal fat. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or you are trying to cut down on the number of animal products that you consume, this is a factor that you should keep in mind when buying your soap.

Animal fats. Animal fats that come from pigs or cows are often used when making homemade soaps. These products usually produce creamier and firmer soaps. Soaps made from animal fat are usually more expensive. If the animal fat comes from organic farms, the prices can be even higher.

Vegetable oil. Many handmade soaps are also made from vegetable oils. The most common are coconut, olive, and palm oil, or cocoa and shea butter. All of these oils have many benefits on your skin. In general, they have many antioxidants that can help the way your skin looks and feels.

Mixed soaps. Naturally, handmade soaps do not have to be made from just one type of fat or oil. Many soap makers have special recipes that call for a mixture of different types of fats or oils.

The texture of the soap depends on its process.
(Source: Natallia Khlapushyna: 55642380/ 123rf.com)

Process

Homemade soaps are produced through two processes: a hot process and cold process. Both of these methods create a different type of soap. The texture and what other ingredients can be added to the soap vary depending on the method used. A soap maker cannot add flower petals to soap that has been made through the cold process because they lose their color due to the long process of saponification.

You should also make sure that you are buying real handmade soap. Some companies will just use this title to make their soap more appealing. It is also important to make sure this company treats its workers well.

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Did you know that during the second world war the Americans created a soap that could be made with seawater. This is how dermatological soap was born.

Fragrance

One of the most important factors of any soap is its smell. Some handmade soap makers only use the smell that comes from the natural fats or oils that the soap is made out of. Others add natural oils, like lavender, rosemary, etc. These oils give the soap a better smell.

You should check what type of fragrance the soap has. If you have sensitive skin, for example, you could have a reaction to certain added ingredients. If you are looking for an organic product that is 100% natural, you should make sure the fragrances are natural and not synthetic.

Added Ingredients

Certain soap makers add ingredients to their homemade soaps to make them special. It is common for soap makers to put goat milk into their soap mix, for example.

Other additional ingredients can be flour petals or exfoliating elements like sugar. If you have sensitive skin, make sure that you do not have allergies and go over the list of added ingredients.

Summary

Homemade soaps are great to improve your daily routine or just to add to your guest bathroom. These products are made in small businesses. Buy handmade soap to support a local business! Many homemade soaps come from old traditions, like Aleppo soap.

The production process is simple. Soap makers use three base ingredients: an animal fat or vegetable oil, sodium hydroxide or potassium, and water. Each soap maker has a different recipe and adds different ingredients, like flower petals or special fragrances, to give it a special touch.

If you like this guide, please share it with your friends on social media and leave any thoughts or comments in the comment section below. Thank you so much!

(Source of Featured Image: Natallia Khlapushyna : 61088961/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Gabriel Bierwirth Copywriter & Art Lover
As a lover of languages, linguistics, and art, exploring, traveling, and experiencing new cultures around the world is my passion. I try to learn something new from the people around me everyday. I’m a foodie, geography nerd, and love nature but can’t get enough of the excitement of big city life.