Edgewater Soaps
Hand Crafted.  Naturally Good.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some general FAQs based on questions we've been asked in the past.  If you have a question we haven't answered here, feel free to ask by e-mailing us at faqs@edgewatersoaps.com. Include the initial of your first name and your full last name, or your full first name and the initial of your last name (as in "D. Smith" or "Diane S.") and the city and state where you live.

General & Customer Contributed FAQs

Why handcrafted soap?

What does castor oil do for soap?


Is your soap made with lye?


What are essential oils?


Do you make castille soap?


Are there different soaps for different seasons?

    Why handcrafted soap?

Because handcrafted soaps have none of the chemical additives commonly used in commercial soaps, and because they retain all the moisturizing, skin-softening glycerin that is naturally produced as oils are converted into soap.  

The reason many store-bought soaps are drying or irritating to the skin is that commercial soap makers extract the natural glycerin during the manufacturing process because it's more profitable to them used in lotions, creams, and other cosmetic products.  I've written a couple blog posts that provide detail on this, and you can find more information here and here

In addition, each recipe is formulated so that some of the oil remains unreacted in the soap, making it extra mild and moisturizing, and leaving your skin both looking and feeling softer and healthier.

And last but not least, our soaps are as friendly to the environment as they are to your skin.  Completely and easily biodegradable, and made with all vegetable-derived oils and butters that are renewable and have a much smaller carbon footrpint than animal-derived oils and butters.  

    I notice that castor oil is in many of your soap formulas.  What does castor oil do for soaps? 
Castor oil (which many people think of only as a laxative) is terrific in soap.  Most handcrafted soap makers consider it indispensible.  Like olive oil, castor is very mild and humectant, meaning that it helps attract moisture to the skin.  Unlike olive oil, however, castor oil boosts a soap's latheriness.  Castor is also especially valuable in liquid or bar shampoo recipes, as it promotes shiny, lustrous hair texture. 
    When you say "handcrafted," do you mean soap made with lye, like in the olden days?
In a word, Yes!   And it's just like the soap we use today, too. 

What many people don’t realize is that every soap you buy in the grocery store (unless it's nothing more than a list of chemicals) starts off as fats or oils that have been transformed into soap using lye – or, by it’s chemical name, sodium hydroxide.  If you’ve got a bar of soap in your bathroom that’s still in it’s wrapper, go get it.  Yes, really!   It’s OK, we’ll wait.


Alright.  Now look at the list of ingredients.  Is sodium cocoate in the list?  Or sodium palmate?   Sodium tallowate?  Those are simply the chemical names for oils or fats that have been transformed into soap with lye.  The process is called “saponification,” from the Latin sapo, or soap.  Sodium cocoate is the chemical name for saponified coconut oil.  Sodium palmate is saponified palm oil.  Sodium tallowate is saponified animal fat. 
But because many people aren’t actually aware of this, I can understand when they’re a little leery.  Sodium hydroxide is a caustic chemical that must be used with care.  But it is neutralized and rendered completely harmless when combined with oils to make soap.  And unlike the old fashioned days, there’s no hit-and-miss here.  All oils and other additives are carefully measured to a 10th of an ounce, and sodium hydroxide (or potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps) is measured even more precisely in grams.  We want to make sure that whatever touches your skin is as safe and gentle as anything we would let touch our skin.
    What exactly are essential oils?
Essential oils are fragrant oils obtained directly from plant sources, extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, seeds, or bark of the plant, or the rind of the fruit, as in the case of citrus essential oils.  Some are relatively inexpensive because the oil is plentiful and easily extracted. Others, such as pure jasmine or rose essential oils, are prohibitively expensive (like $100 an ounce or more!) because a huge amount of plant material must be processed to produce even a small amount of oil.  
While natural essential oils are more expensive to use than synthetic fragrance oils, we use them whenever possible and practical because we prefer natural ingredients, and because essential oils contribute more than just scent to our products.  Tea tree oil, for example, is well known for its healing and antibacterial properties. Lavender and ylang ylang oils are known for their calming, relaxing qualities.  (For more detail, see our blog post on essential vs. fragrance oils in soapmaking.)
    I've always liked castile soap.  Do you make that?
Yes.  Almost.  True castile soap is made only with olive oil; our Castile Olive Oil soap is made with 80 percent olive oil and the remainder a combination of palm kernel, castor, and jojoba oils.  Olive oil alone makes an extremely mild and gentle soap that's beneficial for all skin types, and especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin.  It produces a creamy rather than bubbly lather, however, so we use small amounts of palm kernel and castor oil to give it a little more life, and we add jojoba oil for it's wonderful moisturizing properties. All the benefits of castille, but with a bit more body and sudsiness. Fans of our castille soap have also loved our Sensitive Skin Formula bar.  It's also very mild but with a much bubblier lather so it's great as a hand, facial, bath, and shower soap.  It has no color or scent additives, and we substitute babassu oil for the coconut oil we would normally use to create an extra gentle, non-sensitizing, and especially emollient soap.  If we still had problems with eczema, this is the only soap we would ever use.  And it's good for all skin types, too.   
    Are there different soaps for different seasons?
    Submitted by S. Lulkin, Chicago, IL
Yes.  During harsh winter weather, the dryness of the air can suck the moisture out of anyone's skin, and soaps formulated to be moisturizing are the best choices for most people.  Our suggestions include the Lavender Oatmilk, Rosemary Lemon, Sensitive Skin Formula, Luxury Bar, Castile Olive Oil and Orange Tea Tree soaps. 
In summer, however, especially when my skin feels hot and sticky, my favorite for whole body use is the Soothing Skin Refresher bar.  It's formulated for oilier skin types, and even though I have drier skin, its gently astringent, skin toning qualities leave me feeling wonderfully fresh and clean and dry.  

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