In this article you will learn:
There’s reasons why we haven’t offered liquid soaps even though most people prefer the convenience… Let’s dive in!
How Bar Soaps Differ From Liquid Soaps
To clarify, we are talking about pure, real soap. “Soap” is an FDA protected term! Some people assume surfactants or detergents are soap, but if it isn’t traditional, real soap it must be labeled differently: such as a hand wash, body wash, or a “beauty bar”. Most liquid “soaps” (as most people call them) on the market are not technically soaps but in fact detergents.
When we are talking about liquid vs. bar soaps in this article we are only referring to real soap!
Soap-making involves chemistry, so get ready for technical terms you may have to remember from high school! Chemically speaking, liquid soaps need a different alkali than bar soaps to complete the saponification process (the process that turns oils to soap with lye).
To recap, you can’t make any real soap without lye or a strong alkali substance. Lye is a natural product made from hardwood ashes filtered with water – that’s it!
There are 2 forms of alkalis (lyes):
- Sodium Hydroxide forms bar soap using the cold process method (what we use) or the hot process method (explained below)
- Potassium Hydroxide forms liquid soap using the hot process method – prolonged heat applied for several hours or more.
So, how does this change the nourishment quality, moisturization content, expense, and more?
Cold Process Bar Soaps Are More Nourishing
As mentioned above, liquid soapmaking requires the hot process method – heating for hours at a time.
If you aren’t familiar with heat factors and nutrient content: prolonged heat above 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys vitamins and proteins. This isn’t good for the nourishing aspect of our buttermilk and animal fat soaps!
Hot process soap requires hours of heating soap between 200-220 degrees Fahrenheit!
Make sure your bar soaps were made using the COLD process method, which only requires enough heat to melt the fats for a very short period of time!
Some soapmakers use the hot process method for a “milder” bar of soap that cures faster. Curing time for cold-process soap takes 4-8 weeks, while hot-process soap takes 2-3 weeks. This makes hot-process soap more efficient for quick sales or sooner use, but it’s not beneficial for the nourishing content.
Bar Soaps Are More Moisturizing
“Superfat” is a term used by soapmakers to describe the excess, free-floating fats in a recipe: superfats are what makes the soap moisturizing and nourishing! Usually described as a percentage, the superfat amount can range in the negatives (very lye-heavy industrial soap) to 0% and higher (up to 25% with certain fats).
A huge difference in liquid vs. bar soaps is the maximum amount of superfat allowed in the formulas.
- Bar soaps have a maximum superfat averaging around 10% – WOW! Our animal fat soap bars average around 6-7% – not too moisturizing that it melts in your shower, but never too drying!
- Liquid soaps have a max superfat of 0%-5% depending on the type of fats used, which is quite drying. This range is recommended to prevent separation of free-floating fats and cloudiness, which clogs the pump and makes a chunky soapy soup instead of a smooth liquid.
In order to “neutralize” the excess lye or drying aspect in most liquid soaps, borax or another neutralizing agent is usually added after the hot process method.
In short, liquid soaps will never be as moisturizing or as nourishing as bar soaps because of the chemical differences – how disappointing!
Bar Soaps Are Less Wasteful
This one may seem kind of apparent, but we need to address it. Obviously, bar soaps require little to no containment except a label, paper wrapping, paper boxes, shrinkwrap (we use certified biodegradable shrinkwrap), or they can be completely naked – Oh-la-la!!
Liquid soaps require some kind of container (whether glass or plastic) and usually a plastic pump for easy access. Pouring a glass bottle every wash would get quite slippery and possibly dangerous. Therefore, liquid soap will never be as sustainable as bar soap.
Bottles and pumps are not very sustainable, and neither is the extra shipping weight and space.
It takes a lot more energy, time, and materials to make liquid soap. As described in the hot process method, a soapmaker must heat and tend to liquid soap constantly for several hours during the creation.
Weight of bar vs. liquid doesn’t equal final volume of soap use.
Bar soap is concentrated liquid soap: 12 oz of liquid soap equals to about 3 oz of bar soap.
Liquid soap is like watered down bar soap, and therefore has a bit more difficult time lathering. It takes more effort to clean and build up a good lather with liquid soap.
Lathering is much easier with bar soap.
Bar Soaps Are Less Expensive
This point is in addition to wasting materials unnecessarily: why waste money too? The bottles, pumps, and extra shipping weight/volume of liquid soaps are not cheap. The costs of bottles and pumps can range from $1-$2.50, which translates to an extra $3-$8 in final price. Let me explain!
Labor and production costs are always a factor in pricing. The cost of a product makes the final price increase exponentially (that means it’s multiplied, cost isn’t just added on dollar-for-dollar).
If a soapmaker needs more controlled space for making and storing, extra equipment, more ingredients, more energy, and possibly much more time to make liquid soap, those costs will translate to the final product.
The final price of liquid soap is at least 2-3 times more than bar soap considering all of the factors described above.
Since a 12 oz bottle of liquid soap has the same life as a 3 oz bar of soap, why wash your hard-earned money down the drain with all the unnecessary extras and none of the benefits?
Thanks for reading our short little article about why we abstain from making liquid soap! Liquid soap may work for some people – and that’s great! We just don’t see any need to make it at this time.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, feel free to contact us! We’re always happy to help.