Frequently Asked Questions
Most commercial soaps commonly available in grocery stores are made with chemical detergents and foaming agents. Most also contain animal products in the form of cow fat (tallow) as a byproduct of slaughter houses.
Glycerine produced during the soap making process is removed and sold separately because it is more valuable than the soap itself.
At C&L we use only food grade vegetable oils and butters, and we leave in that wonderful moisturizing glycerine. Because we sell our soaps at a higher price than store bought soaps we can use much higher quality ingredients and a more expensive manufacturing process.
C&L soaps are better than most other handmade soaps because our formula and unique manufacturing process is better. In our best selling soaps we use five natural oils and butters, where most others use only three.
Our one of a kind high pressure manufacturing process produces a soap that is gentler, foamier, and more moisturizing than others, with a pH that is lower than most, closer matching that of human skin.
We use more than twice as much essential oil as most soap makers use. This (and our low temperature / high pressure process) give our soaps a longer lasting, stronger scent.
What's your skin worth? You get what you pay for.
C&L soap is not "milled" like most commercial soaps. Milling makes soap more dense and it lasts longer if it is stored wet. If stored dry between uses, C&L soaps last as long as commercial soaps, and they get better with age.
All C&L soaps are moisturizing. We formulate them all to be so, regardless of the soap type.
Nope. [Read here.]
Most of our essential oil soaps will retain their scent in the open air for about a year. After that, just use them once to bring back the scent.
Our soaps actually get better with age. They shrink a little as they lose water, and they get harder and foamier. In our office we have a bar of Aleppo soap (from Syria) more than 100 years old, and it is fantastic stuff.
We formulate for a pH of about 7.5, about as low as you want soap to be. Our skin has a pH of about 5.5, which is slightly acidic. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, like pure water. At 7.5 our soap is mild and very slightly alkaline, and that's what gives your skin that "squeaky clean" feel. No, it is definitely not harsh.
Essential oils are all highly concentrated natural oils, extracted from plant material. They contain hundreds of unique natural compounds, many found only in nature, and most can be used medicinally. They have real therapeutic value.
Fragrance oils are perfumes, synthesized from chemicals in a lab, and may or may not contain any natural ingredients. They are not therapeutic, and are designed only for a specific scent. Products containing fragrance oils cannot legally be labeled "organic" or "natural".
Some scents can come only from fragrance oils. For example, there is no watermelon, apple, or pear essential oil. There is no combination of essential oils that smells like any commercial cologne or perfume. These scents MUST come from fragrance oils.
The ingredients for our most popular formula are coconut oil, olive oil, sustainable palm oil, cocoa butter, castor oil, water, and sodium hydroxide (lye).
For scent we use essential oils in our most popular line of soaps, and fragrance oils in others. For colors we use hypoallergenic natural compounds, vegetable material, and natural minerals. These are listed on the labels.
Sometimes we include exfoliants like natural volcanic pumice powder, luffa, walnut shells, and other natural scratchy stuff.
We also use other ingredients like Dead Sea minerals, Himalayan salt, jojoba oil or other natural oils, activated charcoal, juniper berries, and many other ingredients that give specific types of soap their special properties.
There are basically two processes that most companies use to make handmade soap - hot process and cold process. We use both, depending on which is best for the type of soap we're making.
Some of our soaps require a special process that we invented, which uses low temperature and high pressure in a special reactor vessel.
For our cold process soaps we have modified the basic cold process to include a couple of extra steps that gives our soaps a much higher quality.
Yes it is. All handmade soap MUST be made with lye. There is no other way to make it. However, we are VERY careful to use the least amount of lye we can use to produce soap, and in our process all of the lye is converted to soap so by the time you use it, there is no lye left.
There are two types of lye used in soap making. Sodium hydroxide is used to make hard bar soap, and potassium hydroxide is used to make soft soaps.
There is no organic source of sodium hydroxide, so no handmade hard bar soap can be legally called "organic". Some soap makers will try to confuse you with these two types of lye, one organic and the other not. Just remember, if it's a hard bar of soap, it is NOT organic.
What most people commonly call "lye soap" is a rustic, primitive semi-hard soap made from animal fats like tallow or lard, unscented except for the stench of rancid fat, in a hot process that may leave some residual lye in the finished soap, causing it to be harsh because of its high pH.
I don't recommend using it.
We don't make goat's milk soap. In fact, we suspect it's a marketing scam. (We welcome alternate opinions. Please send yours.)
We do not dispute the benefits of milk on skin. Milk is good for your skin, as long as it is used on your skin in its raw form, and goats milk in particular is fantastic.
However, in making goat's milk soap, most processes call for pouring raw goat's milk into a very strong lye mixture (lye and water), being careful with the temperature so the milk doesn't curdle and turn yellow. (Never buy yellow goat's milk soap.)
Mixing the milk with the very caustic lye solution alters the makeup of the milk, potentially destroying whatever beneficial properties it had to begin with. (Again, PLEASE send in your alternate opinions.)
From then on, the soap making process is pretty much identical to making regular soap. In the end, each bar of soap contains a VERY small amount of goat's milk (a few drops) that may have been ruined by the lye, and gets washed off immediately in the bath.
We also worry about the shelf life of goat's milk soap, because if the milk is truly still viable after its hot lye bath, (and even if it is "superfatted" near the end of the process) it can mold without a preservative added. (Ditto on the alternate opinions.)
If you want the true benefits of goat's milk on your skin, we recommend using a C&L soap to deep clean your skin, and then apply a goat's milk lotion that will stay on your skin instead of being washed off immediately.
Commercial liquid soap is a great money maker. It is really cheap to produce, because it is mostly water. It has to be so it can get through that plastic pump and not fowl it. Foaming liquid soaps contain even more water, and in addition, a foaming agent like SLSA.
If you wanted to make it yourself (and VERY few handmade soap companies do) you would use a form of lye called potassium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide. This is the kind of lye used by the pioneers to make the soft soap sometimes called lye soap.
Potassium hydroxide can be made organically by leaching wood ashes with water. The ashes contain a chemical called potash. You pour water through ashes over and over again until the water's pH rises to a high level, indicating it contains enough lye to make soft soap.
It is a very time consuming and difficult process, and nearly impossible to get the mixture right so you produce a safe soap that won't burn you.
I do not recommend making your own soft soap. You can be sure that any soap maker selling liquid soap has bought a commercial soap base and repackaged it, adding their own scents.
Listen to me - NO HANDMADE HARD BAR SOAP IS ORGANIC. I don't care what they claim on their websites, on their labels, or what they tell you. It is impossible to make a hard bar soap that is organic.
Some soaps (but not all) are 100% natural, but be careful who you buy from. Their advertising can be misleading. Read the article below.