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HandCrafted Bodycare Industry Glossary Soap Making Glossary

We have compiled a list of terms, acronyms and definitions used in our website and

throughout the Soap Making and HandCrafted Bodycare Industries.

Although this glossary is extensive, it is a work in progress. We will add to it as time allows, and would appreciate any feedback.


ac·ro·nym (āk'rə-nĭm')

A word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for Women's Army Corps, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging.


def·i·ni·tion  [def-uh-nish-uhn]

1. the act of defining or making definite, distinct, or clear.

2. the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, etc.

3. the condition of being definite, distinct, or clearly outlined.


hand·craft (hānd'krāft')

n. Variant of handicraft.

tr.v. (hānd-krāft') hand·craft·ed, hand·craft·ing, hand·crafts

To fashion or make by hand.

hand·craft'er n.

Term (s)


A word or group of words designating something, esp. in a particular field, as atom in physics, quietism in theology, adze in carpentry, or district leader in politics.

Bodycare Industry

body-care | in-dus-try uh-stree]

Term used to define the industry of hand made body care products, such as; soap, lotions, body butters, lip balms, all natural bodycare items, bath bombs,


glos·sa·ry [glos-uh-ree, glaw-suh-]

A list of terms in a special subject, field, or area of usage, with accompanying definitions.

Soap Making

Soap [sohp]

A substance used for washing and cleansing, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali, as sodium or potassium hydroxide, and consisting chiefly of the sodium or potassium salts of the acids contained in the fat.


Web site

A connected group of pages on the World Wide Web regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics.

Cutting Grids or Frames

Used on Our Air Powered and Manual Soap Cutter™s it consists of the steel frame that the cutting wires attach to. Both Loaf and Bar Cutting Grids or Frames are included with each cutter.

Cutting Tables

Used on Our Air Powered and Manual Soap Cutter™s it consists of the part of the cutter that your block of soap sets on and is grooved so the wires can cut through the complete block of soap. Both Loaf and Bar Cutting Tables are included with each cutter.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - XYZ



A concentrated, highly aromatic, oily mixture extracted from plants. Absolutes are free of by-products and waxes and are alcohol soluble. They are separated from the plant, by using alcohol and vacuum distillation.


A solution having a pH of less than seven. (See pH definition)

Accrylamide Copolymer

Accrylamide Copolymer is a thickening agent.


Referring to soap; the more expensive oils, usually added in small quantities and considered superfatting oils, medicinal oils, tinctures, herbs, clays, and other substances that enhance the overall quality.

Air Soap Cutter™

Air Soap Cutter™, A pneumatically driven machine that uses cutting frames (grids) to cut large blocks of soap into loaves and bars. See Air Soap Cutter™ Molds.

First created by Willow Way, 11/1996.

Alcohol Extract

A concentrated herbal tincture. Alcohol can be used as a solvent to extract herbal compounds.


A substance with a ph higher than 7. An Alkali can be used to neutralize an acid. Sodium hydroxide is an Alkali and is used to make soap.

Alkali Salts

Salts which contain one or more hydroxide ions. Examples of Alkali Salts used in our industry are Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda, Lye) and Potassium Hydroxide (Potash).

Almond Oil

Almond oil is obtained from the nut, which botanically, is actually a fruit. Almond oil is used in skin care preparations as an emollient or as a carrier oil.

Aloe Vera

The juice or gel obtained from the leaves of this plant can be used in cosmetics. It is known for its soothing and healing properties.


A resin obtained from fir trees, which gives a warm, woody scent.


A liquid or a compound that does not contain water.


Inhibits or retards the reaction of a substance with oxygen (oxidation). In addition to their many uses in medicine, antioxidants have many industrial uses, such as preservatives in food and cosmetics and preventing the degradation of rubber and gasoline.


A type of sweat gland in the human body that determines a person’s body odor, which affects the way a scent smells on a person.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Derived from the seeds and known for its moisturizing properties. It is used in skin care preparations.


Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils (Essential Oils) or aromatic compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health.


Having a strong scent or fragrance.

Ascorbic Acid

A sugar acid with antioxidant properties. Its appearance is white to light yellow crystals or powder. It is water-soluble and is commonly known as Vitamin C in tablet form.


A solution that constricts or tightens the skin and also removes oils. It is often used in facial preparations.

Attar or Otto

Is the Essential Oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose.

Avocado Oil

Oil from the pulp of the fruit.  Avocado is high in unsaponifiables and is used in cosmetics and skin care preparations for its moisturizing and nourishing properties.

Awapuhi Kuahiwi

Also known as shampoo ginger or Hawaiian wild pinecone ginger. Awapuhi Kuahiwi originated in India. The thick, sudsy juice squeezed from the mature flower head is used as a shampoo or hair conditioner.

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A term used for various pleasantly scented plant products; Balsam Fir, Balsam Flower (Impatiens), Balsam Poplar, Balsam of Mecca, etc.

Base Oils

Referring to soap; also known as Fixed Oils, the main oils that make up the main soap formula, Palm, Coconut, Olive, Soybean, Sunflower, etc. Oils such as, Castor, Coco Butter, Jojoba, etc, would be additives.

Bath Bomb

A blend of Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), Citric Acid and sometimes other ingredients which produce a fizzing action (effervescence) in bath water. These usually contain Essential or Fragrance oils and moisturizing oils. Also known as Bath Fizzies. There are many forms, for example; balls, tablets and cubes.


This is obtained by brave persons who don’t mind getting stung once in a while. After absconding with the honey comb, by either doping the bees with smoke or going in cold turkey, they separate the honey from the comb and then melt down and filter the resulting wax into blocks or billets. In the Body Care Industry, beeswax is used in candles, soaps, lip balms, butters, etc.


A substance that is able to be decomposed by living organisms, such as bacteria, enzymes. Organic material can be degraded aerobically, with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen.


Biopein is a natural preservative and stabilizing ingredient which is manufactured from a synergistic blend of botanical extracts.


Is the process to remove or neutralize the color of an oil or fat. This can be done with clays, carbon filtering and other methods.


Also know as Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetraborate, or Disodium Tetraborate. It is a white crystalline mineral, generally used as an emulsifier or cleanser. It can be used in cream preparations as an emulsifier.


A substance obtained from a plant or plants, related to plants or botany.

Botanical Name

The Latin scientific name of a plant assigned to distinguish one species from another. The scientific name is composed of the genus followed by the species.

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Carrier Oil

This is also known as a base oil or vegetable oil. It is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin. Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, unlike essential oils, nor do they evaporate like them. Examples: Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, Olive Oil, Sunflower, Emu Oil, Peanut, Pecan.

Castile Soap

Originally, soap made only from Olive Oil and so named because it originated in the Kingdom of Castile. However, now Castile is sometimes used to refer to any type of mild soap.

Castor Bean Oil or Castor Oil

Derived from the beans of the Castor plant. Castor Oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with a mild to no odor or taste. It has a number of medicinal uses. In Soap Making it is used in small amounts as it can react with other oils. See also Turkey Red Oil.

Caustic Potash

(KOH) is sometimes known as caustic potash, potassa, potash lye, and potassium hydrate. White in color, it is used in the manufacturing of soft or liquid soaps.

Caustic Soda

(KOH) is sometimes known as caustic potash, potassa, potash lye, and potassium hydrate. White in color, it is used in the manufacturing of soft or liquid soaps.


Generally a maker (and seller) of candles and soap, however this can refer to anyone retailing special provisions and supplies.


This is a green pigment found in most plants and algae. Chlorophyll absorbs light most strongly in the blue and red but poorly in the green portions of the electromagnetic spectrum; hence the green color of chlorophyll-containing tissues like plant leaves. It is used in soap as a coloring and may give soap some antiseptic properties.


Is the name used to describe a family of scents, generally based on a top note of citrus and woody base notes, such as Clary Sage, Oakmoss, Patchouli, etc.

Citric Acid

Is a weak organic acid. It is extracted from citrus and other acidic fruits such as pineapples. It can be used as a flavoring and preservative in foods and beverages; also used in bath products. It is know in our industry, primarily for making Bath Bombs.

Citrus Scent

From the family of scents, based mostly on Orange, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Neroli, Grapefruit and Bergamot.

Cocamide DEA

A viscous liquid used as a foaming agent and emulsifier in bath products. It is derived from Coconut Oil.

Cocoa Butter

A pale yellow, edible vegetable fat, obtained from the cocoa bean. It is high in unsaponifiables with a pleasant chocolate scent and flavor.

Coconut Oil

This semisolid fat obtained from the meat of the coconut is used in soap making. It contributes to hardness and lather. Sold generally at 76° F and 92° F melting points, 76° F being the most popular.

Cold Kettle Soap

See Cold Process Soap

Cold Pressed

The process in which oils are extracted under mechanical pressure at low temperatures, typically less than 125° F. This preserves the inherent benefits and properties of the oils.

Cold Processed Soap

Considered the most natural soapmaking process, in which the oils and lye are mixed at about the same temperature to what is called a Trace. Typically Soapmakers work with temperatures from 85° F to 100° F. When Lye (Sodium Hydroxide, Caustic Soda) is introduced into the heated oils, a process called saponification is started. The mixture is then poured into molds, covered and allowed to complete its natural process. This can take overnight to a couple of days. The soap will go through what is called a “gel stage” where the opaque soap will turn somewhat translucent and then turn back opaque again. The oils are converted to soap and glycerin.

After the soap is setup and is somewhat solid, it is de-molded, cut into bars and allowed to cure. This is where the soap will harden and lose its excess water, generally about two weeks to a month. Curing time depends on formula, method of drying and the environment in which it is placed to cure.


A thick, fragrant material which is extracted from a botanical base through solvent extraction. It contains the essential oils, fatty acids and wax from the plant base.


The dried meat or kernel from the coconut from which Coconut Oil is derived.


This refers to cosmetic products, claimed to have medicinal or drug-like benefits, which are applied topically. The term is not recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).


Substances to enhance the beauty of the human body, apart from simple cleaning.

Cosmetic Grade

Refers to an approval for use in cosmetics, such as colorants, dyes or fragrance oils which will come into direct contact with your skin.


Crock Pot Hot Process, refers to a method of soap making, utilizing the heat from an electric crock pot during the soap making process (Hot Process Soap).

Cruelty Free

Not tested on animals.


In soap, this is considered the aging process of soap and in which, most of the water evaporates from the soap, making it last longer and less likely to become soggy and sticky when used.

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D & C

Prefix used to designate the approved safe for use in drugs and cosmetics, but not food. Example: D & C Red # 7.


Double Boiler Hot Process. Hot Process Soap Making using a double boiler to apply heat during processing.


A tea or infusion brewed from hard plant material or herbs, such as leaves, bark, or roots.


The process in which odorous matter or scent is removed from a fat or an oil.


This is a petroleum based surfactant other than soap; artificially made with a variety of chemicals. Detergent was developed during WWII when soap making oils were scarce.


Direct Heat Hot Process. Hot Process Soap

Distillate Water

This is a by-product of steam distillation, known as floral water or hydrosol.


A process for separation and purification of a liquid mixture which requires boiling of the liquid mixture. It is based on differences in vapor pressure of components of the mixture. The process involves a vaporization of the more volatile component (s) and then condensation of the vapor back to a liquid.


Known as Dreaded Orange Spots, these are small dark orange spots radiating to yellow that occur on the surface of cold processed soap. The primary cause is thought to be unsaponified oils turning rancid. This is more prevalent in highly superfatted soaps.


Discounted Water Cold Process. A method of making cold process soap, utilizing a lower percentage of water in the formula for stronger lye solution.

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Used in soap molds to create varied shapes, colors and designs such as moon, stars, curls, circles, geometric shapes, etc. Embeds can be long lengths as in the full length of a loaf mold and when cut into bars, shows cross section of the design or bits and pieces scattered throughout the loaf.


These are substances that soften and soothe the skin. They are used to correct dryness and scaling of the skin. Examples are Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter.

Emu Oil

Refined from the fat of the Emu bird. Emu oil has been used for thousand of years by the Australian aborigines for the treatment of burns, wounds, bruises, and as a pain reliever for bone, muscle, and joint disorders. It is used in a variety of cosmetics for its skin nourishing properties.


The blending of two or more, un-blendable liquids. Many emulsions are oil/water emulsions, such as in lotions, butter and mayonnaise.


A substance which stabilizes an emulsion, such as a surfactant. This principle is exploited in soap to remove grease for the purpose of cleaning. Common examples include emulsifying wax, cetearyl alcohol, polysorbate 20, and ceteareth 20.

Emulsifying Wax

Used to bind oils with water when manufacturing lotions and creams. Emulsifying wax is created when a wax material (either a vegetable wax of some kind or a petroleum-based wax) is treated with a detergent (typically sodium dodecyl sulfate or polysorbates) to cause it to make oil and water bind together into a smooth emulsion.


A stabilized blend of oils and water such as a lotion or the suspension of one liquid within another liquid which normally do not mix.


The process of withdrawing the aromatic essences from plants using odorless fats, which are solid at room temperature, to absorb the oils from plants. The fat is then dissolved in ethyl alcohol to separate the essence from the fat and distilled to remove the alcohol.


See Essential Oil.

Epsom Salt

Hydrated magnesium sulfate. A white crystalline powder, bitter and colorless often used in bath preparations and foot soaks. Epsom Salts were originally obtained from the mineral waters found in Epsom, England.

Essential Oil

An oil is “essential” in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. A highly concentrated, volatile or ethereal oil (essence of a plant) which is extracted from aromatic plants, (leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots or grasses) most commonly through pressing or steam distillation. They are used for fragrance and flavorings. Historically known to have both medicinal and therapeutic properties.


An abrasive added to slough off dead cells from the surface of the skin; such as pumice, oatmeal, ground cinnamon, cornmeal and various, ground nut shells.

Expeller Pressed

A mechanical method for extracting oil from raw materials. The raw materials are  squeezed under high pressure in a single step. The oil is extracted from a base by crushing and pressing the material at temperatures less than 210° F (99° C).


Production method used to obtain citrus oils and fruit juices. The expressed or cold pressed Essential Oils are obtained from the peels of the fruits. Expression yields Essential Oils which can contain a certain amount of non-volatile material. Juices are produced by expression of the fruit itself, often concentrated.

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Consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and largely insoluble in water. Fats may be either solid or liquid at normal room temperature.

FDA Approved

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.


Food Chemicals Codex, the industry-standard listing of food-grade ingredients; indicates materials safe for use in food and cosmetics.


Prefix used to designate the approved use in foods, drugs and cosmetics.


Wrapping a bar of soap in a non-woven fabric made of un-spun wool fiber which is matted together using heat and water. Felt is available at most fabric shops.


Used to anchor or stabilize a scent or fragrance, to slow evaporation. Examples; Orris root is used in potpourri, Patchouli and Vetiver in EO blends. Essential Oil scents may generally be classified by their notes or scent characteristics. They can be categorized as top notes, middle notes, and bottom (base) notes. The bottom notes tend to have the strongest staying power. The strong staying power of bottom notes plays an important role as a fixative.

Fixed Oils

The non-volatile oils obtained from botanicals such as Palm, Coconut, Olive, and Vegetable Oils. Also known as Base Oils.

Flash Point

It is the minimum temperature at which the liquid produces a sufficient concentration of vapor above it and forms an ignitable mixture with air. Examples:  Spearmint has a flashpoint of 155° F (68° C). It should not be sent by air. Patchouli is 210° F (99° C). Gasoline is -50° F (-65°C).

Floral Water

The condensed water produced during steam distillation of a botanical base when making essential oils. It is used quite extensively in skin and body care products. This is also known as a Hydrosol or Hydrolat.


See Fragrance Oil.


A list of ingredients in measured proportions. It can be expressed by volume, weight or percentages. The best way to write a formula is by percentage. This allows the use of any form of measurement and any total amount.

Fragrance Free

Products that contain no added fragrance. The USA has no regulated definition for this term. Some commercial, fragrance free or unscented products contain a masking fragrance.

Fragrance Oil

Combinations of synthetic and natural aroma chemicals blended to create scented oil for use in candles, bath products and other aroma products. Some are blended to mimic natural Essential Oils or blends of EOs.

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Gel Phase

An early phase of the saponification process, when the soap batter temporarily becomes a  warm transparent gel and slowly returns to being opaque, slightly more sold, and cooler. Not all soap batches and all soap batters go through a gel phase.

Germaben II

An oil and water soluble, anti-microbial preservative used in personal care products and cosmetics to inhibit the growth of yeast and mold.


An emollient that exists naturally in vegetable and animal fats and is present as a by-product of saponification. Glycerin is hygroscopic (absorbs water from the air) and softens the skin by helping it attract and retain moisture.

Glyceryl Sterate

An emulsifier and by product of the soap making process.

Glycol Monostearate

An emulsifier.

Goat Milk

Goat’s Milk has long been recognized as a rejuvenator of the skin, acting as a natural moisturizer.

Goat Milk Soap

Cold Processed Soap that is made with made with goat’s milk. The goat’s milk can be fresh, previously frozen, or powdered goat’s milk.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Derived from the seeds and pulp, thought to have antibiotic, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties it is used as a preservative in handmade toiletries.


Grapefruit Seed Extract

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Hand Milled Soap

Soap made from re-batching Cold Processed Soap.

Handcrafted Soap

Often used to refer to handmade soap, this soap is crafted from cold process method or a ready made soap base using the melt and pour process.

Handmade Soap

Soap fashioned by combining a base oil with an alkali using a variety of traditional methods including hot and cold processing.

Hemp Seed Oil

Pressed from viable or sterilized seeds of the hemp plant. Contributing moisturizing properties to soaps and cosmetics; hemp seed oil is high in essential fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the skin.


A plant having aromatic qualities. Used as a seasoning and in medicine, it does not produce woody tissue and usually dies back at the end of the growing season.

Hot Process Soap Making

The soap (Oils and Lye) are heated and forced through the saponification process by cooking for several hours until the saponification is complete. The soap is then put into molds to finish setting up. Hot Process (HP) does not have the same texture and look as Cold Process. For more information on HP in production see our Q & A page.


A substance that draws and holds moisture unto itself, for instance, glycerin.


Using hydrogen, this is a chemical process of converting vegetable oil from a liquid into a solid.


See Hydrosol


The condensate water produced during steam distillation of botanical bases when making Essential Oils. Used in skin care preparations and bath products. Also known as Hydrolat or Floral Water.


The tendency of a material to absorb moisture from air. Lye and Citric Acid both have hygroscopic properties. One way to prevent this is to use desiccants packets, place in air tight containers and remove all air, etc.


Little likelihood of causing an allergic reaction

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International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. The INCI name is a requirement when labeling cosmetics marketed in the USA.


A product made by steeping botanicals in oil or water.


Not capable of being dissolved in a liquid, such as water or alcohol.


Something that causes irritation or inflammation of the skin.

Isopropyl Mysristate

Used as an emollient to reduce greasiness..

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Jojoba Oil

Liquid wax expressed from the seeds. Jojoba Oil is often used in skin care preparations.

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Karite Butter

See Shea Butter

Kokum Butter

Extracted from the fruit kernels of the Garcinia Indica Tree, native to India, it is used in medicines and cosmetics. Also know as Goa Butter.


See Potassium Hydroxide

Kukui Nut Oil

Valued as an emollient and often used in skin care products to treat dry skin. Also known as Candle Nut Oil. It is obtained from the fruit of the tree. Hawaiians have used Kukui Nut Oil for generations to treat dry skin.

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Also called wool fat, wool grease or wool wax this fatty substance is obtained from wool and used in soaps and cosmetics as a moisturizer.


The semi-solid or solid fat rendered from a hog commonly used in soap making.

Lauric Acid

Dodecanoic Acid. A saturated fatty acid. It is the main acid in Coconut Oil and in Palm Kernel Oil, and is believed to have antimicrobial properties.


The process of pouring multiple layers of soap, usually of varying colors and sometimes scents.


Also spelled, loofah or luffa. The dried fibrous section of the fruit from the plant (Luffa aegyptiaca) is often used as an exfoliating sponge.


Known as Sodium Hydroxide. See Sodium Hydroxide.

Lye Discount

To withhold a certain percentage of Lye from a soap formula. After determining the amount of lye needed to completely saponify the fats in a recipe, only a percentage of the lye is actually used. For example; if a 6% Lye discount is called for, the amount of Lye is calculated to completely saponify the oils and or fats, then only 94% of the calculated amount of lye is actually used; 6% is withheld.

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Macadamia Nut Oil

Expressed from the nut of the tree.  Also known as Queensland Nut Oil. Used as an emollient in soaps and cosmetics as well as a fragrance fixative.

Mango Butter

Expeller pressed and refined from the fruit kernels. Used as a base ingredient or as an added emollient in cosmetics.

MaxiBall Press

MaxiBall Press, A press that makes balls or spheres called Bath Bombs or Bath Fizzies. Using plastic molds to press formulations of citric acid, baking soda, etc., into compact round balls. First created by Willow Way, 2004.

Melt & Pour Soap

Also known as M&P. This is a method of handcrafting soap by melting a ready made soap base, often adding fragrances and shaping using molds.

Melting Point

The temperature at which a solid becomes a liquid.

Mica Powders

Used in soap making to give a sheen to the soap; available in a wide spectrum of colors.


A process during commercial manufacturing where the soap is blended with fragrance, colorants and other ingredients using mechanical rollers.

Mineral Oil

A refined synthetic petroleum based oil. Mineral Oil is widely used in commercial cosmetics. It creates a barrier and interferes with the skins normal functions. This is a poor choice for skin care preparations.

Mold - Mould

Hollow cavity, form, or matrix into which a liquid or semi-liquid material is placed to take a desired shape upon cooling or drying.


Material Safety Data Sheet. These are information sheets provided by the manufacturer or distributor to define the health, safety and fire risks associated with products that are considered hazardous.

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Sodium Hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda. See Sodium Hydroxide

Natural Soap

Soap that is produced from natural ingredients, free from petroleum, chemical or other artificial ingredients.

Natural Source

Obtained or derived from a natural source such as that from a botanical base.

Neem Oil

Most often used in skin care preparations for its antiseptic properties. Neem Oil is also used in insect repellents.

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Oven Hot Process; Hot Process Soap Making using an oven to apply heat during processing


The olfactory system is the sensory system used for olfaction, or the sense of smell

Olive Oil

Obtained from the fruit of the tree through pressing and solvent extraction. There varying grades of olive oil available. Olive Oil is often used in soap making since it does not interfere with the skins normal functions.

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Palm Kernel Oil

Obtained from the kernels of the oil palm.


Scale to measure  the acidity or alkalinity of a chemical typically dissolved in water. The measurement scale goes from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline or very basic), with pH of 7 representing neutral. Lye, a corrosive chemical used to make natural soap, has a pH of 14. Water, also used to make soap, normally has a pH of 7 and cured soap will generally have a pH between 8.5 and 10. (Note: there are many opinions on the pH of soap and what it should be. Always best to do your own research and make your own assumptions.) See article by Ann Perius-Parker:

Palm Oil

Obtained from the pulp of the fruit from the oil palm.


Derived from petroleum. A solid wax used in candles and cosmetics.

Peanut Oil

Rich in Vitamin E and easily absorbed into the skin, peanut oil is obtained from pressing shelled peanut kernels.

Potassium Hydroxide

(KOH) is sometimes known as caustic potash, potassa, potash lye, and potassium hydrate. White in color, it is used in the manufacturing of soft or liquid soaps.

Propylene Glycol

Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and a carrier in fragrance oils, also used to clarify soap.


Occurs naturally in plants, it is generally made synthetically when used in water based cosmetics.


A light and porous lava. Used in solid and powdered form as an abrasive.

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Refined, Bleached, Deodorized.


Also known as hand milling, this is the process of liquefying pre-made Cold Processed Soap, adding fragrance and molding. Also known as hand milling.


A list of ingredients in exact quantities with directions for preparing and making soap or other skin care products. This is also called a formula or formulation.


The process of purification; removing impurities from the natural or crude base.


The process of melting down lard or tallow to a liquid state in order to remove solids or impurities.

Rosemary Oil Extract

Rosemary Oleoresin. This is an anti-oxidant often used as a preservative in personal care products.

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SAP Value

See Saponification Value.


Exhibits the characteristics of, or resembling the qualities of soap.


The process or reaction of combing a base (fat) with an alkali, (sodium hydroxide) to produce a salt (soap) and a free alcohol (glycerin).

Saponification value (SAP)

The SAP Value of an oil is equivalent to the amount of potassium hydroxide needed to saponify one gram of that oil.

Sea Salt

Salt obtained by the evaporation of sea water either by solar or kiln drying.


The unforeseen thickening and uneven hardening of the soap mixture during processing. Often this is caused when adding synthetic fragrance oils to the mixture.


A term to describe trouble sign in the soap making process when the oils separate  from the lye mix.

Shea Butter

A pale, solid fat from the seeds of the Shea tree, Shea Butter is used as a base ingredient or as an emollient in handmade soaps and skin preparations. Having a high content of unsaponifiables in which contribute to its moisturizing properties.


Soap is a surfactant used in conjunction with water for washing and cleaning that is available in solid bars and in the form of a viscous liquid.


Chemically, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.


Traditionally, soap is made by the reaction between a fat and a strong alkali such as lye (sodium hydroxide), potash (potassium hydroxide), or soda ash (sodium carbonate).


Historically, the alkali was leached from hardwood ashes.


The chemical reaction that yields soap is known as saponification. In the saponification of a fat to form soap the alkali and water hydrolyze the fat thus converting it into free glycerol/glycerin and soap (fatty acid salt). Occasionally, saponification can occur naturally.


The most common soap making process today is the Cold Process method, where fats such as vegetable oils, Palm, Olive, Coconut, Soybean, Lard, Tallow, etc. react with Lye.


Soap makers sometimes use the melt and pour process, where a premade soap base is melted and poured in individual molds. While some people think that this is not really soap making, the Hand Crafted Soap Makers Guild does recognize this as a legitimate form of soap crafting. Some Soapers also practice other processes, such as Hot Process, clear or transparent soap, which must be made with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.


Handmade soap differs from industrial soap in that whole oils containing intact triglycerides are used and glycerin is a desirable byproduct.


Industrial detergent manufacturers commonly use fatty acids, which are detached from the glycerol heads found in triglycerides. Without the glycerol heads, the detached fatty acids do not yield glycerin as a byproduct.


Most commercial bar soaps are made from recycled and reprocessed vegetable oils gathered from restaurant grease traps, fryers, rendered animal fats, etc. These oils have to be cleaned, filtered of contaminates and sanitized. The oils are generally overcooked and valueless, except to make a cleaning agent. Fragrance oils are used to cover any off color scent.

Soap Casting

The art of making handcrafted soaps using melt and pour soap base.

Sodium Bicarbonate

Also called Baking Soda. White crystalline powder that is slightly alkaline, used in bath preparations as a water softener.

Sodium Cocoate

Saponified Coconut Oil, the sodium salt of Coconut Oil..

Sodium Hydroxide

Is a corrosive alkaline substance also known as Lye, NaOH, and Caustic Soda. Previously, Lye was among the many different alkalis leached from hardwood ashes. Solid dry Lye is commonly available as flakes, pellets, micro beads, and coarse powder. It is also available as solution, often dissolved in water. Lye is valued for its use in food preparation, soap making, biodiesel production, and household uses, such as oven cleaner and drain opener.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Emulsifier and foamer.

Sodium Palmate

Saponified Palm Oil, the sodium salt of palm oil.

Sodium Stearate

Saponified stearic acid, the sodium salt of stearic acid.

Sodium Tallowate

Saponified tallow, the sodium salt of tallow..

Solar Sea Salts

Sea Salt derived from sun evaporated sea water. It is not mined or mechanically processed. This method preserves the natural mineral content.


Dissolvable in liquid, as in water, oil or alcohol soluble.

Solvent Extraction

A method of separating oils from their base using another liquid in which the oil is soluble. The oil is then distilled and the solvent is evaporated leaving the oil.

Soybean Oil

Oil obtained from soybeans. This is the primary ingredient in vegetable shortening.

Specific Gravity

Relative density with respect to water. This is the ratio of weight of a given volume of a substance in relation to the weight of the identical volume of water.

Steam Distillation

A separation process in which Essential Oils are extracted from plant materials using steam and pressure. The volatile oils are separated from the hydrosol following condensation.

Stearic Acid

A fatty acid obtained from animal and vegetable fats. Commonly used in soaps, candles and other cosmetic products.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Obtained from the seeds, sunflower oil contains vitamin E and is used as an emollient.


The addition of extra oils or butters that remain unsaponified within the finished soap. These excess oils and butters contribute to the moisturizing properties of the soap.


Are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading, and lower the interfacial tension between two liquids.


Something that is artificially produced and not of natural origin.

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The solid rendered suet or fat from animals such as sheep or cows. This is primarily used in soap, candles and lubricants.


The temperature at which fatty acids solidify.


Any of the four forms (alpha-, beta-, delta-, gamma-) of Vitamin E, Alpha-tocopherol having the greatest amount of Vitamin E. An antioxidant often added to soaps and lotions as an emollient due to its moisturizing properties.


A stage in soap making where the mixture reaches a certain consistency or thickness that is most noticeable when the soap is drizzled upon itself and leaves a trail before disappearing back into the mixture.

Turbinado Sugar

Also known as Demerara Sugar, this is unrefined, raw cane sugar It is used in sugar scrubs and body polishes.

Turkey Red Oil

Also known as Sulfonated Castor Oil. It is the only oil that completely disperses in water. It is made by adding sulfuric acid to pure Castor Oil. This allows easy use for making bath oil products.

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The natural unaltered base, such as the oil obtained from first pressing.


Components that remain in their original state and do not react with Sodium Hydroxide during saponification. These components are beneficial to a soap formula due to their moisturizing or other skin nourishing properties.


Products that contain no added fragrance. See Fragrance Free.

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Vegetable Shortening

A solid fat made from vegetable oils, usually soybean oil. The oils are converted to a solid state through hydrogenation.


The property of resistance to flow in a liquid or semi-liquid.

Volatile Oils

Oils that evaporate or vaporize readily at room temperatures such as Essential Oils.

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Water -Soluble

Susceptible of being dissolved in water.


Refers to herbs and botanicals grown and harvested in the wild without the use of pesticides or other chemicals.

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