Is there really lye in soap?
Lye is a necessary component when making soap. It is the agent or catalyst that changes the oils, butters and milks into soap. At the end of the saponification process there is no active lye in soap. It has all been reacted with the oils to form soap and its by product glycerin.
Interestedly, soap commonly found in the grocery store which has been made in mass-produced factories has had all of its naturally-occurring glycerin removed so it can be sold as a separate commodity. However, handcrafted soap retains the Glycerin with its natural moisturizing properties.
Can you make soap without lye?
Technically no, however you can buy a base, commonly known as Melt and Pour where the saponification process has been previously completed. When using Melt and Pour you can add essential or fragrance oils for scent as well as other additives.
What kind of soap do I make?
Primarily I make cold processed soap. I carefully chose my oils and butters for their characteristics. I blend the oils and butters with the lye water and add any essential or fragrance oils and other additives (oatmeal, coffee grounds, clays, etc.). When everything is combined I pour the fluid soap into the mold where it stays for 18-36 hours depending on the ingredients in the soap.
Once the soap is firm enough I unmold it and cut the soap into bars. It is then set aside for 4-6 weeks to “cure”. During the curing period water evaporates from the soap creating a firm bar of soap and the chemical reactions within the soap cause it to become milder. After the end of the cure period the soap is ready for sale.