Is your soap made with lye?

Yes. All soap is made with lye (aka sodium hydroxide). If lye was not used in an artisan soap, it was either a premade soap base or it isn't soap. It is literally impossible to make soap without lye. 

No need to be alarmed, though. Soap is actually the by product of a chemical reaction between an acid (oils and butters) and a base (lye). When the oils and lye are mixed together, a reaction called "saponification" occurs, where the molecules bond together to become soap. Soap makers meticulously calculate precisely how much fatty acids and lye are required to be skin safe. 


Are your soaps vegan/cruelty free?

Some of my soaps are vegan. However, the bulk of my products use tallow (animal by product). Please be sure to check the ingredients listed with the soap to be sure it is compliant with your beliefs. 

I do make sure to purchase only clean ingredients, synthetic micas (not mined with child labor), and pthlalate free fragrances.


Do you do custom soaps?

Absolutely! I will work with you to make you a batch of soap that is entirely your own.

Simply email me at oldempiresoaps@gmail.com, specify whether you want regular or vegan soap and we will go from there.

Disclaimer: custom soaps must be purchased as a whole batch, typically 7-8 bars, depending on how thick you would like them to be cut. 


What is "cold process"?

Cold process is simply a soap making method. There are a handful of ways to make soap (i.e. hand milling, hot process, melt and pour, etc), but the soaps that I create are made with the cold process method.

This involves mixing the oils/butters and lye together at room temperature, and pouring into molds while still at a liquid stage. After 18-48 hours, the soap is unmolded and cut into bars before sitting for 4-6 weeks to cure.


And what is "curing"?

After mixing the oils/butters with lye, they saponify; it's the chemical reaction where they bond together to make soap. Once everything has fully saponified (after about 48 hours), soap is then safe to use.

However, there is still quite a bit of liquid in the soap. Since water is used to dissolve the lye for mixing, the soap needs time for that water to evaporate, leaving behind a firm, shelf stable bar of soap. 

This process often takes between 4 and 6 weeks, dependent on the amount of liquids used. If softer oils, such as olive or almond oil, make up a high percentage of the soap, the cure time can last even longer. And the longer a soap cures, the milder and harder it becomes.

100% olive oil soap, otherwise known as castile soap, is often left to cure for a year! 


Why don't I smell like this soap all day?

There are a a couple of reasons why you won't smell artisan soap on your skin for very long:

1. Something called olfactory fatigue. Essentially, your nose becomes desensitized to any scents or odors that are either on you or around you for a long period of time. Once you get away from that smell, you'll begin to smell it again. It's basically a way for your body to process new smells, by dismissing "common" odors. If you've ever gone into a chain bath & body products store, or a pungent restaurant, you'll know what I mean.

2. Artisan soapmakers use fragrance oils, essential oils, or blend of both in their soaps.

Fragrance oils are designed and produced by chemists to maximize scent retention while also remaining skin safe. While some may be turned off by the synthetic quality of fragrance oils (despite many perfumeists using naturally derived fragrances), you can be rest assured that as long as the soap maker is using the proper amounts of fragrance oil in their soap, your skin will be safe.

Essential oils are essences or distilled extracts of botanicals. They were not designed to act as fragrance oils, so their usage in soap is hotly debated in some circles. Whatever medicinal or holistic properties that the oils are valued for typically do not survive the cold process saponification process (at least, there's no way to measure that as essential oils are not regulated and tested like fragrance oils). Soap makers use calculators to make sure they are using an appropriate amount of essential oils for skin safety.

In the end, soap is meant to be a "wash off" product. It is not something that is supposed to remain on your skin because the ultimate goal of soap is to clean, not scent. If you can still smell your soap on yourself at the end of the day, that's not necessarily a good thing. That means you have a cleansing product still on your body. 

Use your soap to get clean. If you want to smell nice all day, use scented lotion or cologne/perfume. 


If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me at oldempiresoaps@gmail.com!