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In a nutshell, the "cold process" involves combining an alkali solution with a chosen base of oils (and/or fats and/or waxes). The alkali & oil(s) must be within specific temperature ranges so that when combined they will transform into a completely new substance, soap! The so-called "cold process" is not really cold at all!
The heat used by the "cold process" (CP) is low compared to other methods used for making soap (from animal fats) which involve lengthy (& very smelly) boiling, and this contrast is behind the name: cold process.
GoodKaarma has selected the finest vegetable fats & oils with the best characteristics when converted to soap:
organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (Italy, DE-006 certified) organic cocoa butter (Spain, ESCTAE certified)organic palm fat (Ghana, ABCert DE-006 & in accordance with US NOP)
organic coconut fat (Dominican Republic, Skal certified)
organic beeswax (Estonia, ÖKO certified)
organic cold pressed sunflower oil (France, DE-006 certified)
organic cold pressed flaxseed/ linseed oil (Estonia, ÖKO certified)
Every soap is made with an unique blend of 6 organic base ingredients. There is not one & the same base for all soaps - every soap possesses an unique base-blend character with varying percentages of base ingredients. For example, Kaarma Sutra contains the highest cocoa butter content of any GK soap, 9% of the base blend!! Amrita & Wall St contain the highest quantities of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. While Je t'aime & Marmalade Queen have the highest Omega 3 rich flaxseed oil content.
Soap-making relies on alkali processing agents. GK uses a sodium hydroxide solution (commonly called "lye") for making solid bar soaps. Liquid soaps require the use of potassium hydroxide in solution. These same alkali solutions can also be made from wood ashes, and in former times this was the primary method of obtaining strong alkalis for soap-making & other purposes.
"SAP values" are used to calculate the quantity of NaOH required for saponification of each base ingredient. The mathematics behind each recipe, the weighing & temperature of the ingredients must be very precise.
GoodKaarma takes this a stage further by "superfatting". This involves adjusting the amount of NaOH used so that 5% of the base ingredients do NOT saponify. Superfatting takes CP soaps to new & sublime heights! The resulting soap posesses exceptionally fine skin conditioning qualities.
But don't take our word for it, try a GK soap and discover what all the fuss is about!
When making CP soaps, GoodKaarma never heats the base ingredients over 70C in order to preserve the beneficial properties of sensitive ingredients, like beeswax & honey.
After the 2 basic elements (the lye & the oils) have reached the correct temperatures, they are are combined & blended causing the whole to thicken. This is called the "trace" or "tracing point". If you keep mixing too fast or too long, the whole can get too thick to pour, or seize, causing loss of the entire batch. Knowing when to stop takes a bit of practice! Certain essential oils can also cause sudden seizing, so working fast is important. Clove & Cinnamon are foremost culprits causing batch seizure, but are also responsible for some great soap scents (check out GKNY).
Once the base ingredients have "traced", pure essential oils, fruits, herbs, spices or botanicals are added to the mixture. Herbs & spices like Rosemary, Juniper, Turmeric & Paprika lend vibrant colours and subtle textures with mild exfoliating action, and flower petals make great accents.
Chocolate Bliss is packed with organic Fairtrade cocoa powder & lashings of organic cocoa butter. Wheatgerm (used in Kaarma Sutra) & Seabuckthorn berries are naturally high in skin-loving Vitamin E. Rise & Shine is full of fresh Seabuckthorn berries, packed with multiple vitamins & carotene rich seed oil. Marmalade Queen is bursting with skin conditioning Calendula petals, Wall St has ground Rosemary leaves & Dance of the Dakini features gorgeous marbled swirls of organic Fairtrade chocolate!
Turmeric is an especially interesting spice & well suited to soaps, being widely respected for its beneficial skin conditioning properties in Ayurveda. GK soaps containing Turmeric are Amrita & GKNY.
Organic honey gives Saaremaa Honey exceptional properties as well as a divinely sweet scent.
Among the most practical soaps (with outstandingly versatile wide-spectrum organic essential oils) are Je t'aime (featuring the highest content of organic Lavender essential oil in any GK soap), and Spa & Sauna (with organic Tea Tree essential oil, whole Juniper berries & fine ground cosmetic grade clay/mud).
After all the essential oils & botanicals have been mixed in, the whole is then poured into molds to set hard & cure. GoodKaarma uses paper-lined wooden "loaf" molds. After a couple of days, the soap is removed from the mold & left to "cure" for 4 weeks. During the curing process the pH of the soap gently balances itself & the soap releases moisture & becomes firm. Soaps are handcut from the mold-blocks & packaged into attractive recycled paper boxes ready for sale.
GoodKaarma soap boxes are made from recycled paper & printed with vegetable oil/resin based inks. The inks are Green Swan certified (Nordic) & EU Directive 94/62EC standards are also fully met. In practice, this means that GK soap boxes are fully compostable.