Soap can be created with any fat (oil or butter), whether it is animal or vegetable. Many people are opposed to the use of animal products, however, using tallow creates an especially mild soap with abundant lather. I personally use vegetable oils and butters.
When making soap, it is important to know the specific properties of each ingredient. Every oil and butter contributes to the quality of the final product. You need to choose a combination of fats which will result in the type of soap you want whether it be an especially hard bar, which will last longer in the shower, big bubbly lather versus a more creamy type lather, etc. If you use an unbalanced group of oils you could very well end up with a soft soap with poor lather. Each fat also has special properties pertaining to moisturizing ability. The secret is to come up with a recipe that contains all of the perks you are looking for in your soap. Having said that, the fragrance used also affects the amount of lather. I have tried countless recipes and just when I thought I had the perfect one, would use it with a different fragrance oil only to find the lather to be less abundant.
All hand made soap is naturally high in glycerin, a know humectant, meaning it draws moisture to itself. Most Commercial soap companies remove the glycerin from the soap and sell it to cosmetic companies for use in their products, leaving the soap harsh and drying. Not only is making and using your own soap fun, it is much better for your skin. Having said that, don't let anyone tell you their soap will magically cure psoriasis or any other skin condition. It just isn't true. Yes, handmade soaps are often less irritating to sensitive skin than commercial soaps, and, can even help with moisturizing and relieving some skin condition symptoms, but, nothing will miraculously make the condition disappear overnight. Using a mild, handmade soap on a regular basis IS much better for your skin than commercial soap, therefore, you very well could note an improvement in your skin condition over time.
In my next post I will give examples of different fats and the benefits they hold as it pertains to soap making.
In future posts I will go over the necessary safety precautions that must be adhered to when making soap.