By Kristen Prinzing
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Maybe you've wondered how soap works. We all know that using soap removes dirt, but how? If you have read Making Handmade Soap, you know that the chemical reaction between the fats and the lye is called saponification. Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with a chemistry lesson at the molecular level. Just realize that the cold process method of saponification results in soap.
The soap molecule has some interesting properties. The oils will prevent it mixing well with water, yet they attract dirt. Thus, the dirt is suspended in the oils and can be washed away with water. Adding natural scents and oils will not only clean your skin, but moisturize it as well. A byproduct of the saponification process is glycerin. Glycerin helps moisturize your skin.
Handmade soaps using the cold process method, produce a gentler bar of true soap. Unlike commercially mass-produced soaps that are heated to force the saponification process, the handmade cold-process method produces a high quality bar of soap. Mass-produced commercial soaps are usually refined. This refining removes the naturally occurring glycerin and therefore an important moisturizing component is lost. Commercial soap manufacturers then use more chemicals to make the bar lather and maintain its shape as well as flow through their machinery better. Many commercial soaps are not true soaps. They are detergents that are harsh on your skin.