Soap has been around for centuries. Earliest evidence of soap comes from Babylonia, when they found clay cylinders containing a substance similar to soap in 2800 BC. And moreover a clay tablet containing an inscription of a formula for soap including soap ingredients were also found in Babylonia in 2200 BC. Additionally there is historical evidence from Egypt, Phoenicia, Rome, France, Germany, and Arab countries indicating the existence of soap in their cultures.
In the middle ages, the two main soap ingredients were animal fat and lye (sodium hydroxide). But today soap ingredients have evolved to introduce exotic oils and different fragrances. Solids fats such as palm oil, coconut oil, lard (pork fat), and tallow (beef fat) are used as soap ingredients to formulate hard bars of soap.
Oils such as soybean oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil and canola oil is used to formulate mild soaps which are soft and easy on the skin. Before the World War 1, soap was made mostly at home. Animal fats were saved as soap ingredients and transformed in to soap. The scarcity of fats during the war gave way for businesses that recognized the need to manufacture soap in a large scale and market to the consumer. Detergents and fabric softeners were other byproducts were born thanks to mass production of soap.
As completion grew, and consumers had more varieties and brands to experiment with soap companies became stringent in their methods, quality and research. Their research suggested that plant based oils are easily absorbed in to the skin leaving in fresh and moisturized, whereas, soap made of animal fat clogged pores, dried the skin and even aggravated skin diseases. Over the years, new oils were introduced as soap ingredients to replace animal fats. These oils were mainly from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and also flowers.
Making soap at home is not difficult, if you have the correct soap ingredients and the quantities. The basic formula for soap making is the combination and heating of oil with lye. This results in a basic bar of soap. But the trick lies in getting the correct quantities and consistencies. Although there are many methods of soap making, the most popular method is the basic cold process. With the cold process method, you will only be required to heat your chosen oils from your list of soap ingredients. The rest of the soap ingredients such as lye, colors, glycerin, fragrances and preservatives can be added as soon as the oil is removed from the heat.
Most of the soap ingredients are easy to find. You can get them from the local grocery stores or buy the soap making ingredients as kits at craft supply stores. Whatever your reason for making soaps, whether it is for your personal use, as a home business or for gift giving, once you understand the process it can be quite lucrative and fun as well.