We had to do it, Makers – it is April Fool’s day, after all! We haven’t really found a way to make saponification happen without lye – instead, let’s take a look at an alternative for those who don’t want to handle lye during the making process: melt & pour!
What do people mean when they say their soap has no lye?
If you’re talking to a fellow maker or you’re a consumer looking for a product, you might wonder how someone would go about making soap without lye. The answer? They likely used melt and pour.
Making soap from scratch requires either potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide; also referred to as lye. There is no substitute for lye when it comes to making your own soap. Simply put: no lye, no soap!
To make soap, you need lye and fat. Fats come in the form of butters and oils, and every maker has their own favorites; coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, to name a few. When you set up a get-together with your lye and your fats, the lye breaks down the molecules of your chosen fat/oil and bonds with them. This process is called saponification and from that process, soap is born!
Okay…but I don’t want to touch lye.
Now, you may know about lye if you have ever had a clogged drain; sodium hydroxide is also used to unclog pipes. If you have picked up a bottle of drain cleaner with lye, you’ll probably notice a plethora of warnings about how caustic it is. It’s understandable that you might be a little hesitant.
When you use the proper safety equipment and caution, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll have an issue with lye. But, if you’re really sure you don’t want to work with it, there’s always melt & pour.
What is melt & pour?
Melt & pour soap refers to an already saponified base that can be melted, combined with fragrances, colorants and exfoliants, and then poured into a mold. Because the base has already gone through the saponification process, no additional lye is required; the only mixing you’ll need to do is to add in whatever awesomeness you’d like to make the finished bar unique to you.
Melt & pour bases come in a lot of different varieties too; you can find bases that are transparent or opaque, white or ivory, made with goat’s milk…there are a ton of different options. You can even use transparent and opaque bases together to create interesting designs; it’s really versatile.
Is melt & pour soap?
A common misconception about melt & pour is that it’s “lye free”. Remember earlier when we said that you need lye to make soap? That’s still true here. Even though someone that creates soap using a melt & pour bases isn’t coming into contact with the lye themselves, the base was still created with the same lye and fats process.
Pour your own creations!
Alright, so maybe we played a little April Fool’s prank and we don’t have a groundbreaking recipe to make saponification magic happen without lye. If you’ve been on the fence about creating soap because you’re nervous about handling lye, we hope this article will help you create your first melt & pour bar!
Show us what you’ve made in our group, Cut to the Trace, or our exclusive HSCG Member Group.
Beginner’s Guide to Melt & Pour: What it is and How it Works