Posts Tagged ‘Bath and Body’

Cruisin’ The County: Awash in curiosity at soap-making class

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

A Soap Making Class instructed by Soap Alchemy owner Jordan Henderson was recently featured in an article in the New Castle News by reporter Lugene Hudson. The story was originally printed on November 16, 2010.

By Lugene Hudson – New Castle News

Nothing like the scent of Soap Alchemy, Natural, Handcrafted Soap!

Jeannie Clark Henry of Bessemer gets a whiff of the natural soap made by Jordan Henderson during his class at the F.D. Campbell Memorial Library.

BESSEMER, PA — For the first few minutes, I had flashbacks of my late-afternoon high school chemistry lab.

Who knew soap making involved equations, precise measurements, thermometers, gloves, masks and flasks?

It’s a time-consuming technique — with just a simple recipe — that in the end, yields a product everyone uses. In a way, this was like chemistry class.

During a four-hour demonstration at the F.D. Campbell Memorial Library in Bessemer, Jordan Henderson of New Galilee’s Soap Alchemy first explained the steps involved in what is called cold process soap making.

Discussion started inside, but for the action segment, we headed outside. After all, pioneers didn’t run to the store for a bar of Dove. They made it.

Jordan started creating his own about 13 years ago when his body reacted to store-bought soap, which can contain harsh chemicals. Today, he produces soap almost every day in his soap kitchen, turning out 150-pound batches at a time.

Soap is described as a cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes or liquid and made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats. Alchemy basically means any magical power or procedure of changing a common substance of little value into one of great value, Jordan said.

His first batch used olive oil, which is very good for the skin, he explained “It took me nine months to make it,” he laughed. “I didn’t know what I was doing.” But once he perfected the formula, success followed.

Making a gentle bar of soap still requires some safety precautions

Members of a soap-making class observe as a brave volunteer pours water to begin a chemical reaction.

Precautions are necessary, though. Besides having the essential tools, safety is an important facet. “Soap making is a chemical reaction and can be dangerous at points. You need a high level of respect for what you’re doing.”

Despite all that, the final product is skin safe. The method requires the perfect, well-calculated combination of crystals of sodium hydroxide — which if not used properly can remove skin — distilled water and, in this case, Greek olive oil.

Jordan keeps vinegar on hand, which neutralizes the soap acid if an accident occurs. “We’re working with high temperatures and the water goes from 60 degrees to 200 degrees in a matter of seconds. If it goes to steam, there’s a type of explosion.”

I stepped back quickly. Jordan cautioned class members who experiment at home to remember that no animals and no children or young adults can be in the area during this process. Inhaling the caustic fumes must be avoided, so working in a well-ventilated area is crucial.

The sodium hydroxide was poured into the water slowly — not the other way around — and the containers must be capable of handling the quick change in temperature. Those two elements are then poured into the oil.

When done correctly, the sodium hydroxide and oils are converted into a sodium salt of a fatty acid, and the pH quality is tested. It must be between seven and 10.

Once all the ingredients were measured, Jordan added a few drops of clove essential oil. The mixture was stirred using a whisk, poured into aluminum bread pans lined with plastic wrap, heated in the oven at a low temperature for at least eight hours, tested for pH quality, cooled, cut and air dried to last longer.

Risks aside, Jordan encouraged the class to try making soap at home. “It’s a lot of fun. I love making soap.”

He produces all types including goat milk, castile, unscented, shaving and specialty soap.

The group worked in pairs. Each person took home a bar of soap she had made during the class.

“I encourage everyone to learn,” Jordan recapped. This was a bubbly experience, bar none.

For the article as seen in The New Castle News, please click here.

Natural Should Mean. . . Well. . . Natural.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Soap Alchemy Basic Castile Soap - LavenderShouldn’t it? Did you know that in the United States, the term “natural” can be used on skin care products that contain little or no actual “natural” ingredients? At Soap Alchemy, when we say “natural” we mean “natural.” Plain and simple… We only use food grade oils in all of our soaps. They are not bleached, deodorized or refined, just natural, food grade vegetable oils. Many soap manufacturers use cosmetic grade oils… You wouldn’t want to cook with cosmetic grade oils, so why put them on your skin?

Did you know that the FDA does not review cosmetic products before they are marketed to consumers? There are ingredient requirements but it is left to the manufacture to verify compliance. Soap Alchemy lists every ingredient that goes into the batch on each bar of soap we produce. We do not use any ingredients that we would not ourselves put on our skin. There are no additives such as Sodium Laurel Sulfate or it’s cousin Sodium Laureth Sulfate which are notorious for drying the skin. We don’t use fragrance oils in any of our soaps, just pure, natural essential oils and we see no purpose in using any colorants, natural or otherwise, in any of our products either. Soap Alchemy uses food grade ingredients, essential oils, no synthetic fragrance, no colorants, no dyes!

Since every body is different, at any given time, you will find between 30 and 40 different varieties of soap on our website. For those who prefer no scent, we make about 10 different soaps that contain no essential oils or scent masking chemicals, which you may find in some “fragrance free” products, so you can choose what soaps work best for your type of skin. Our Pure Castile line of soap uses only 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the base oil for the soap while our Basic Castile line of soap, which includes our Oatmeal Soaps containing Certified Gluten Free Oatmeal, uses a blend of Soybean, Extra Virgin Olive and Palm Kernel Oils as well as Babassu Oil, Cocoa Seed Butter and Jojoba Oil. Our Goat Milk Soaps contain Soybean, Coconut, Babassu and Jojoba Oils, Cocoa Seed Butter and Goat Milk.

Our Specialty Soaps offer completely different blends of food grade, natural vegetable oils in each different bar to allow more choice in the oils which go on your body. Our Shea Butter Specialty Soap contains 35% unrefined Shea Butter! We also offer Neem and Tea Tree, Hempseed with Rosemary, Baby Almond, Avocado with Spearmint and Sunflower Oil Soap in this line.

What’s more, with the exception of our Goat Milk line of soap, Soap Alchemy Soaps are Certified Vegan!What you do get is a pure soap that rinses clean away and is good to use on your hands, face and entire body! We even have customers who use it on their hair!

Be Good to Your Body, Be Good to the Earth.
Our bars of soap not only claim to be natural, they are and they are safe for the environment. From the paper we use to package it, to our display boxes, our marketing materials and the inks used in our printed materials, you can bury it in the ground and it will break down naturally leaving nothing behind to harm the environment. Our wrappers and marketing materials are printed with soy inks on 100% recycled paper, our boxes are made with FSC Certified paperboard and printed with linseed oil inks and our soaps use all natural, earth friendly ingredients.

American Content.

Soap Alchemy sources as much ingredient and packaging from USA as possible.  But, it is not always possible.  For example, Tea Tree oil is from Australia.  However, Orange Essential Oil is from America!  The paper we print on is made in Michigan, the ink we use to print is also American Made.  The plastic jars we use are made in USA as well as the lids, the plastic shrink wrap.  Soap Alchemy strives to source American where ever possible.  For example, Sugar, from America, Sodium Hydroxide, a critical ingredient in Soap, made in America. Make a positive choice, help us to build a better, healthier America.