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Short Soap-Making Primer

We get asked occasionally about the use of lye, aka sodium hydroxide, in handmade soap. To clear up any misconceptions and answer potential questions, sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide is used in the making of all handmade and most commercial bar and liquid soap. While lye is used as a driver in saponification, the name for the chemical process that yields soap, it is totally consumed/transformed in the process and does not exist in the final product. This is the alchemical magic of soap making. Disparate and unlikely ingredients are brought together, engage in a chemical process and what results is nothing like what existed at the beginning. 

At Camamu we super-fat our soaps and shampoos at between 6 - 10%. What that means is that there is a much higher proportion of plant oils used in relation to the amount of lye. The reason our products are so moisturizing and nourishing is because while the lye is totally consumed, there's a lot of the oils left behind, unbound, in our lovely bars.

If you ever have any questions about the chemistry of soap-making, please email or phone us. It's a fascinating subject and one which we love talking about!

  • Stuart Bailey