New Seaforth Bath Soaps
We have been interested in making handmade bath soaps since the launch of Seaforth but there has always been one major obstacle - space. Unlike hot process shaving soaps, which are ready to use almost as soon as they are made, cold process bath soaps need time to cure and mellow out - 4 to 6 weeks in most cases.
Making space to cure the soaps was a challenge in our small workshop. Even though curing soap smells great it can be a little overwhelming in a small space.
Our summer project was expanding the workshop to give ourselves a little more elbow room. With that project complete we're excited to launch the first full run of bath soap in Spiced, Heather, and Sea Spice Lime.
About the soap
Soap bases are always fine-tuned for a specific purpose - Shaving soaps need a stable lather but don't clean very well. Laundry soaps clean so well they would dry skin out in an instant. Bath soaps on the other hand need to be mild and non-drying with balanced cleaning properties.
The gold standard in bath soaps has long been Castile soap from Spain and Marseille soap from France. The key ingredient in both is olive oil. The oleic acid in olive oil creates a very mild soap with nice moisturizing and nourishing properties.
The first ingredient in our bath soap is olive oil which makes the soap mild enough for daily use. The combination of palm oil and coconut oil hardens the bar to make it last longer and gives it just enough cleansing power to get clean without drying out your skin. Shea butter also contributes its skin nourishing properties.
The secret ingredient
Well, it's really not much of a secret to anyone familiar with handmade soap, but the secret ingredient is glycerin. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of saponification (fats reacting with alkali to make soap). It is a natural humectant that draws moisture to the skin to keep skin from drying out.
Commercial soaps are typically made with a base of "neat soap" which has had the glycerin removed to used in other products. The result is often a hard bar of soap that cleans a little too well and leaves the skin feeling tight.
Handmade soaps have all of their natural glycerin intact, resulting in a soap that cleans well but doesn't have the same drying effect as commercial soaps.
The other secret ingredient
Time is the key for any cold process soap and especially for olive oil based soaps. A long curing process makes the soap milder and increases its lathering properties.
Soap is a mix of solid-phase soap crystals surrounded by liquid-phase soap. Over time nature works its magic by concentrating the mild easy-lathering soap molecules in the liquid phase and allowing the less soluble molecules to become hard crystals.
As a result the bar gets harder - not just because there is less water but also because the stearic/palmitic crystals are hard. The bar also lathers better, lasts longer and has a milder feel.
We cure/age our bath soaps for at least 4-6 weeks to make sure they are ready to use. Olive oil soaps continue getting better months and even years after they have been made. So don't hesitate to let the soap continue aging in your cabinet for a while!
We are excited to share our bath soaps with you and we hope you enjoy using them. Our plan is to make a few runs of bath soap per year as time and space permits.