If given an option- would you use natural ingredients or chemicals to wash your clothes? What about your hands and body? The answer is unanimous and obvious. Natural ingredients are a better bet any day and handmade soaps are one of the many methods by which we can take better care of ourselves and our family. Almost all handmade soaps have ingredients that nature has given us to use- to keep our skin and hair healthy.
After understanding how to make a handmade soap, we thought that it was the only way of making soap. Well, just like everything else- there were more than one ways. Thanks to our dear friends, Malvika and her mother Poonam who have been making soaps for many years, we understood that there are different kinds of techniques.
There are basically four different ways to make handmade soap- Melt and Pour, Cold Process, Hot Process and Rebatch.
Here was our Hindi film moment where we found out that there is a twin brother! And not just one- 3 others!
Melt and Pour is the easiest and safest of these arts- it is so easy that kids can perfect it but so versatile that it is ideal for artisans. And it is in this technique where Poonam and Malvika excel.
Poonam’s father had a soap manufacturing business many years ago and looking at him, she always felt that she wanted to do this. There was a strange attraction to the craft and she did several courses and learned the art of making soap and other beauty products. After starting her own business, she had to give up her passion for her family as her children became priority. But around a year back, fortunately for us, she decided to start over- the fire within her which was very much alive.
Poonam has her own Salon and runs her soap and beauty product business on her own. When she decided to restart her business, she realised that she needed to learn everything again to have the best and most recent knowledge. After re-learning the art and craft of making beauty products, and based on her previous experience, she started The Soap Yard- producing beautiful, natural and safe beauty products. So she was the ideal teacher for us on soaps. Her daughter, Malvika joined in and helps her with the branding and marketing for her business.
Along with producing these products, Poonam also teaches production of shampoos, creams and face packs. She also arranges DIY workshops regularly and has online classes where she instructs on the production of beauty products. With her penchant and zeal to keep doing more and pushing the boundaries for both herself and the skill of making beauty products, she is well on her way to achieve her goals.
And her goal is simple- anyone who uses her soap or another product, should smile. Her motive is that simple. For that, she does not compromise on quality ever. All the raw material required is grown at her own home (nature gives us bounties) and she never uses anything artificial for her products. She ensures that she makes something good for your skin and hair along with being aromatic and beautiful to look at.
“So what is the difference between these different types?” we ask inquisitively and the mother-daughter duo find time from their busy schedules trying to enlighten us.
Melt and Pour utilises a pre-made base that is ready to use as it is but requires a personal touch to transform it into something amazing. Melt and pour soap making is the process of melting a preexisting soap base, most often adding colour and fragrance or essential oil, then pouring the soap base into a mould. Once fully hardened, the result is a bar that is able to be used right away. The benefits of this art are not having to handle lye (Refer to “Story of a Handmade Soap” for this one), the wide variety of colours and fragrance options available, kid friendly process, and no curing time. Because melt and pour soap is already made and the process is relatively easy, users are able to focus on the design of the soap. Most novelty soaps are made using Melt and Pour techniques.
Cold Process soap is made by mixing or saponifying lye and oil and the resulting chemical reaction is soap. With Melt and Pour base – the saponification and waiting step has been done for you while with Cold Process, you do it yourself. “It’s similar to using a cake mix (melt and pour) versus from scratch (cold process)” says Poonam. A Cold Process technique allows you to customise every single ingredient to suit your personal preferences. You can add whatever ingredients you like and let the creativity flow. Although this is a longer process, but the amount of playing around possible is immense.
In hot process, hot oils and lye are combined to begin saponification, and then introduced to heat via a Crock Pot or double boiler. The additional heat speeds up the saponification process and “cooks” the soap before it goes into the mould. So you get to be creative and customise every single ingredient as well as get the end result quickly! The soaps made through this technique have a rustic, not so smooth texture due to the rapid saponification.
A rebatch is exactly what it sounds- correcting the soap that did not come out right. So the entire process is redone using a technique similar to Melt and Pour so it is a great way to fix or use batches of soap that didn’t turn out quite right. It generally does not require too long a curing time, around 1-2 weeks is fine and these soap bars also have a rustic look.
Poonam and Malvika make us realise that in our daily running around and chasing deadlines, we never notice the simplicities of life. The simple arts- who could have imagined that making handmade soaps could be done in so many different ways. Whatever the technique used, the end result of any handmade technique is a piece of art, a masterpiece- because it contains not just essential oils and fragrance, it contains love, passion and hardwork.