Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cold Process vs. Melt and Pour Soaping

For those that don't make soap, I understand that this blog entry may be a bit confusing. Soap is soap for a lot of you. What's the big deal about soap as long as you get clean, right? Right. We shouldn't forget that the main purpose for soap being soap is because if its ability to make you clean and smelling good. You wash your hands with regularly (I hope!), wash your face, and the rest of your body with soap, whether it be liquid soap, cheapo industrial made bar soaps, freebee soaps from hotels or handmade soaps like mine. But, I am already digressing from the original subject and haven't ended the paragraph yet!

Cold process soaps are soaps that are made using a specific method called "cold process" which I won't go into in great detail but it is probably the most common method of making handmade bar soaps. You add purified water, lye, oils, and then dyes and fragrances if you choose. Ta daaaaa! Handmade soap. If you read my previous blog, you already know that it isn't exactly a simple no-brainer process though. Cold process soaping (also known as CP soaps) allows the soaper to add whatever ingredients she chooses to make a great bar of soap and there are some pretty inventive and creative cold process soapers out there on etsy. You have full control over what goes into your soap product. CP soaps take awhile before you can actually use the soap. It is several weeks from start to finish so the soaper really has to think ahead of time to when the soap will be ready for use.

Melt and Pour soaping is another method that is a simpler process. In a sense, the soap itself is already made. You are simply buying the base soap product, melting it down and then remolding into another shape. During the meltdown process, you can also add other ingredients that show your creative flair such as colors, micas, fragrances, exfoliants etc. to personalize the melt and pour soap. Melt and pour soaps (also called MP soaps) lend themselves well to putting into cute molds, layering with different colors, adding imbeds etc. The process is much more instantaneous than the CP method. The soap is ready right away after being made. So, it is really a wonderful creative soaping method. The drawback is that you don't have full control of what products went into the MP soap because you are essentially purchasing already made soap.

Many sellers choose not to delve into the MP soap world because they don't have full control of products going into it. On the other hand, many soapers find also that MP soaps sell well because they can be made simply, easily, quickly, and there is so many creative things that can be done with it.

As a consumer, your decision lies as to whether you are purchasing a soap to get you clean, know what is in your product, or love fancy and visually exciting soaps. If you love different shapes, imbedded items and fun soaps, chances are you are drawn to soaps made by the MP method. If you are looking for purity of product, knowing exactly what is in your soap and just want to get clean, you may be more drawn to the CP method. There are many CP soaps that are visually interesting to look at as well. All you need to do is check out some of the many etsy sites and see the variety of soap bars available.

I tend to keep most of my soap bars simple. That is just my choice, although my next bar has a little more visual excitement than some of my previous ones. It won't be ready until next month, called Blackberry Kumquat...puple and yellow. (See one of my previous blogs regarding it. I will have a picture out shortly). I also make MP soaps and large quantity because I've found a base MP soap that is a great base from which to start.

Hopefully, some of you are now a little more informed about what soaps are out there and what are getting for your buck :)


LongyLegzz said...

Oh boy....I might make a few enemies here. I think that melt and pour soaps are the lazy mans soap. They may look prettier because of the moulds, but it ends there for me. Cold process / hot process just hold up better & carry fragrances well. I like the old fashioned quality about them also.