When making true soap, sodium hydroxide (lye) is always used. Soap is the result of a chemical reaction of a lye solution and fat (oils, animal lard). When mixed together these ingredients go through a saponification process, where the lye solution binds with the oils and when completed soap is formed. After saponification, there is no leftover lye in the soap, and glycerin, a natural moisturizing agent, is retained in the soap.



A natural by-product during the soap making process, glycerin acts as a humectant, a substance that draws moisture. Fats and oils contain glycerin and during saponification the glycerin is chemically drawn out and mixed in the soap. The glycerin remains in the soap after it is done curing. However, it has been known that many commercial soap makers take an extra step to remove glycerin from the soap, and add it to other products (lotions, creams, and such). Most handmade soap makers leave the glycerin (hence the “naturally retained” glycerin on labels).

Soap Ash (White coating on top of bars)

Sometimes a white coating is left on top of soap. This is called soap ash and is harmless. There are many theories as to why this formed, some soap makers think it is the sodium hydroxide reacting to the oxygen in the air as it is curing. Many soap makers simply cut the tops off of the bar, but we feel that it truly is an aesthetic reason and do not feel the need to cut down the bar. Plus, why waste good soap because of its natural appearance.