The Natural Buzz / Saponification
The answer is... of course. Without Lye there is not Soap! All REAL soap is made with lye (sodium hydroxide mixed with oils). Any skin washing product or shampoo made without sodium hydroxide is a detergent, not soap.
I’ve had quite a few people ask me whether I use lye in my soaps and the answer is yes, the real question however is this…Is there lye in my soap? The answer to that is NO! Here is why.
Once the process of saponification is complete, the lye and oil molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and glycerin. There is no lye present in the finished bars of soap or shampoo. While all real soap must be made with lye, no lye remains in our finished product after saponification.
Even products you find in the stores that don’t have “Lye” on the label still started out with lye. If you read the labels carefully you will see…
- saponified oils: oils and butters are mixed with sodium hydroxide and a liquid (usually water).
- sodium cocoate: the generic name for the mixture of coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
- sodium palmate: the generic name for the mixture of palm oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
- sodium palm kernelate: the generic name for the mixture of palm kernel oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
- sodium tallowate: the generic name for the mixture of beef fat (tallow) with sodium hydroxide (lye).
- sodium olivate: the generic name for the mixture of olive oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
On our labels we list our ingredients as Saponified oils of…not to deceive anyone but because many consumers are afraid of the word lye.
In case you aren’t familiar with the chemical process of saponification here is a very rudimentary explanation.
The process of saponification occurs when the triglycerides (fat) react with sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) producing a fatty acid and glycerol called soap. Lipids that contain fatty acid ester linkages can undergo hydrolysis. This reaction is catalyzed by a strong acid or base. Saponification is the alkaline hydrolysis of the fatty acid esters.
We formulate each recipe to ensure that not only does each oil fully saponify but that each oil is superfatted. Superfatting is where there is additional oil in relation to sodium hydroxide resulting in excess glycerin. Superfatted soaps have superior moisturizing and emollient qualities. That is why Ann Bee’s Naturals soaps and shampoo bars are so luxurious on your skin.