19 Aug Soap ~ the centuries old “new thing”
WashBar grew from a passion for handmade soap. The soap making process is fascinating; by mixing oil with a strong alkali, a product (soap) is created that can wash oil off. It makes no sense at all yet makes all the sense in the world.
Soap making goes back thousands of years. No one really knows how, but it most likely started when our ancestors were cooking over a fire. The fats from meat cooking dripped onto the ash of the fire. It was discovered that by rubbing the gooey substance this produced with water, it washed off dirt, grease and oil. Hey presto – soap by accident.
Modern soap making uses an alkali or lye which is mixed with vegetable oils rather than animal fat. By mixing the oil and lye together at the same temperature, a chemical reaction occurs that changes the molecular structure of the oil. The chemical process consumes all the alkali leaving a saponified end product – which is soap.
These newly formed molecules are quite special – they hate water and love dirt all at the same time. This is because soap molecules have two very distinct ends – they are amphiphilic.
One end of a soap molecule loves water – it’s hydrophilic. Hydro = water, Philic = attraction.
The other end of a soap molecule hates water – it’s hydrophobic. Hydro = water, Phobic = aversion.
When soap is rubbed with water the hydrophobic end of the soap molecule attaches to dirt and oil, the hydrophilic end attracts the water by sticking out and creating a sphere shape that captures the dirt, grease and oil in the centre.
That sphere is easily rinsed away when more water is introduced. Simple yet effective.
At WashBar we use a solid saponified base which is milled and mixed with active oils like Neem, Manuka, Kanuka and Lemon Myrtle Essential oils, before being pressed into bars. This produces a soap that cleans, nourishes and has benefits for the skin.