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  • Sharron Jenkins

The bar soap revival - Why handmade soap is best


According to several recent reports bar soap is on trend!


Environmentally conscious consumers around the world are serious about making their homes and bathrooms plastic free by ditching liquid soap and their plastic containers. In my last blog post I covered a few other steps on how we can all can make a difference to the planet by reducing our plastic waste.


A couple of weeks ago an article popped up in my Facebook feed written by the Daily Telegraph. In it they reveal that for the first time in a century, bar soap is making a comeback in British bathrooms and is emerging as a luxurious, and altogether classier and eco-friendly alternative to bottled soaps.



Zero waste and eco-friendly living is gaining momentum, as consumers make an effort to save the planet.





Although soap is an everyday item, it holds a special allure. It’s both practical and luxurious. Nothing beats the safety and warmth of a soak in the bath for a bit of escapism at the end of a long day.








Kalabash creates premium palm free artisan handcrafted soap using the traditional cold process soap making method and ingredients inspired by the Caribbean. Our goal is that your bath and/or shower is an environmentally friendly tropical indulgence, which doesn’t dry out your skin.


Kalabash soaps contain skin nourishing natural ingredients and stay clear of fillers and foaming agents. Both can can dry out your skin so you'll need to moisturise it more often, and can also cause allergic reactions for some.


Kalabash soaps are loaded with exotic plant oils and mood boosting pure aromatherapy grade essential oils for natural fragrance. As well as their natural aroma, the essential oils used are antibacterial and anti-fungal which give additional benefits.


To care for your skin, the base formula is blended with olive oil which gently moisturises your skin with its velvety stable lather. Cleansing coconut oil cleans and softens your skin, and a splash of moisture-retaining castor oil makes big luxurious bubbles. As an extra bonus, nourishing mango butter and hydrating organic cocoa butter hardens the soap making a long-lasting bar for you to enjoy time after time.


  • Kalabash soaps are hand cut and hand stamped

  • Kalabash soaps are hand wrapped in biodegradable packaging.

  • Kalabash soaps are zero waste

  • Kalabash soaps are 100% natural

  • Kalabash soaps are vegan

  • Kalabash soaps are cruelty free

  • Kalabash soaps are fragranced with pure essential oils.




A sneak peek behind the scenes at Kalabash Bodycare and how I make Kalabash soap.



What is The Cold Process Method of Soapmaking?


The Cold process soap making technique allows us to use only the best natural ingredients and essential oils to produce soap that’s suitable for sensitive skin.


Cold process soap making is both a science and an art. It’s an addictive and deeply satisfying craft, involving lots of care, attention and patience. Soap making can’t be rushed as it takes between 4 to 6 weeks to produce each bar of natural cold processed artisan soap!

Technically soap is a surfactant which means that it helps water to wet things evenly. The molecules in soap have tails which attract dirt and pull it up and away from a surface whether that surface is skin, hair or anything else. The lather then hangs on to the dirt until it’s washed away with clean water.


Putting it simply, without getting into the nitty gritty about the chemical makeup of individual vegetable oils and their benefits:


  • Cold process soap is made by combining an alkaline solution (Sodium Hydroxide/lye and vegetable oils which are naturally acidic without using additional heat) - hence cold process.

  • When combined the mixture heats up naturally, neutralises and forms a new compound, ie., soap. The technical term for the reaction between the two is called Saponification.

  • At this stage the soap has a thin custard like texture into which fragrance and colour/botanicals are gently added.

  • The mixture is then poured into soap moulds to harden where it continues to saponify.

  • After 24 hours the soap sets and removed from the moulds.

  • After another 24 hours the soap is hand cut and hand stamped ready for curing. The scientific formula for making bar soap is:


Triglycerides (plant oils) + Sodium hydroxide (lye)

_______________________________

= Soap + Glycerin




What is Glycerin?

Handcrafted soap retains the extra glycerin produced during the soap making process. Known to soften the skin naturally, Glycerin is one of the best known humectants and attracts moisture to the skin. It is usually extracted during the manufacturing process for commercially made soap and then sold as a valuable by-product which is why your skin can sometimes feel dry and tight after using commercially made soap.


Isn’t Sodium hydroxide/lye dangerous?

  • Firstly, every formula in the Kalabash Bodycare range has been safety assessed and certified by a Cosmetic Scientist to ensure compliance with stringent legislative regulations here in the UK and Europe.

  • Remember I said soap making takes patience? Basically, it’s impossible to make soap without using an alkaline compound. But, here’s where the patience comes in…

  • Saponification continues after the soap is poured, set and cut. Before the soap can be used the alkalinity from saponification needs to neutralise. So, it’s stored for between 4 and 6 weeks in a well-ventilated area to cure and dry out.

  • During the curing process the soap continues saponify until all traces of lye and moisture evaporate.

  • The bars from each batch are turned every few days so that they dry evenly and harden.

  • Finally, the soap is PH tested, wrapped, packaged and stored ready for despatch. Voila!



Benefits of handcrafted soap


Natural ingredients are rarely used in commercially manufactured soap. The advantages of using natural and handmade soap bars is that they do not contain poor quality ingredients preservatives or additives.




Do you use tallow (animal fat)?

No never. I do not use tallow or other animal products in our soaps not even honey or beeswax. The common animal products used in soap making are tallow, lanolin and goats milk. Although I agree that these are great skin nourishing ingredients, I choose not to use them because they don't fit in with the plant based/vegan ethos of the Kalabash brand. NB: Tallow can be found in many commercial soaps on the market and is usually listed as sodium tallowate.


Do you use dyes to colour Kalabash soap?

No never. I do not use dyes in the making of our soaps.  We use clays, flowers such as lavender, roses and marigold petals, herbs including alkanet, and spices including turmeric and cinnamon for their individual therapeutic qualities and to provide texture and subtle colour.


Can I use Kalabash soap on my baby?

Yes you can. With added Unrefined organic Fair Trade shea butter our uncoloured and unscented bar Naked Pearl bar is especially mild as it's made without the chemicals to produce a ‘no more tears’ effect. NB: Like with all products, please be careful around baby’s delicate eye area.



Kalabash Bay Rum/Nature Island Spice bar is the number 1 favourite for shaving. It pays homage to Caribbean Bay Rum, a warm, spicy, masculine fragrance. The Kalabash base formula is enriched with organic avocado oil which enhances the lather, and mineral-rich French Green Clay which adds both colour and slip for a perfect shave.







How long does a bar of Kalabash soap last?

Generally speaking handcrafted soap has a very long shelf life (years).  Depending on how often you use it, you can expect your bar to last around 4 to 6 weeks. Please remember to keep your soap in a dish that drains to make it last as long as possible and to stop it going squidgy. Our natural coconut shell soap dish is made from a recycled coconut shell and will compliment your plastic-free bathroom and it's completely biodegradable!


As I said soapmaking is both an art and a science, and lots of fun!


Click here to see the entire Kalabash soap range and enter the code REVIVAL for a 10% discount on your order.


Until next time ...



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