How are handcrafted soaps different from commercial soaps?
The chemical process used to make soap is dictated by nature, but the ingredients and process used by large scale commercial soapmakers is very different from handcrafted (small scale) soapmaking. The biggest difference is that most commercial soapmakers start out by using pure fatty acids (with no glycerol molecule attached), which they combine with sodium hydroxide to make soap. They do not use natural triglycerides, and so the end soap product does not have any glycerin in it. I’m not sure what a pure fatty acid looks like, and would have no idea where to buy it. I use olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and castor oil…all of which are natural triglycerides and contain a mixture of fatty acids and glycerol.
Why is glycerol (glycerin) important?
Glycerin is a natural humectant. The molecules of a humectant love to create hydrogen bonds with water so much that they pull moisture from the air like a magnet. The water moisturizes the skin and the glycerin holds onto the moisture. This is good for your skin.