Soap is amazing stuff. The exact same ingredients can become a bar, liquid, gel, paste or spray—yet all made with the same ingredients. How cool is that?
At Vermont Soapworks (kind of a Willie Wonka™ factory for soap) we take oils, which make you greasy and turn them into soap, which makes you clean. This process is called saponification (making soap). Soap is fascinating stuff. It is actually a salt that foams! This crystalline nature of soap allows it to be made clear as glass when boiled in alcohol with sugars. That’s right! Your bar of soap (not a detergent bar) is actually made of tiny soap crystals that grew in oil droplets.
When you mix oils, alkali and water, they chemically react and turn into soap and glycerin. Natural soapmakers stir the glycerin back in to add to the moisturizing qualities of the final product. Soap is a very unusual molecule, acting like a snake with two heads. The oily head hates water and the alkali head loves water. When you mix soap and water, this love/hate relationship causes soap to lather. Love water/hate water, love water/hate water… and then it foams!