Cold Processed vs. Hot Processed Soap

July 25, 2019 4 min read

Cold Processed vs. Hot Processed Soap

Shopping for skincare and hair care products is more complicated than ever. Sure, you are one click away from making a purchase at any moment, but the sheer number of products available on the market can be overwhelming!

To compound this, each company claims their product is the best. So who can you really trust? Most of us would start by examining the ingredients. Looking for skin and hair care products without parabens, sulfates, or other synthetic chemicals is a great jumping-off point but doesn’t tell the whole story.

Today, we will be examining cold processed, handmade soaps and why this manufacturing method results in a superior bar of soap!

Cold Processed vs. Hot Processed Soap

The Traditional Soap Manufacturing Process

Soap from boiled animal fats has been used for thousands of years, dating back to the days of the ancient Babylonians. The method of boiling fats to render them into soap has been the traditional soap manufacturing method for most of human history. Fats would then be combined with lye to produce the final soap product.

This revolutionary technique allowed for the mass production of soap which was relatively easy and inexpensive. Unfortunately, using heat to expedite the soap-making process can also lead to a breakdown of active ingredients.

Traditional, hot processed and “melt and pour” soap making methods are faster, cheaper, and easier, but they ultimately create an inferior end product.

What is Cold Processed Soap?

Cold processed soap manufacturing relies on potent ingredients and chemistry rather than blunt force. Many cold processed soaps still rely on natural lye (sodium hydroxide) or another type of alkali. The primary difference being that the ingredients are never exposed to high heat. 

High heat in the manufacturing process can destroy the efficacy of soap’s active ingredients. Natural oils such as virgin coconut oil, shea butter, and lavender essential oil all go through chemical changes when exposed to heat. Cold processed soap making avoids this potential breakdown.

Modern soaps can be rendered either from animal fat or from plant-sourced oils. Essential oils and carrier oils both make excellent bases for cold processed soap. If you are a vegan, there are certainly cold processed soap options for you!

Cold Processed vs. Hot Processed Soap

Benefits of Cold Processed, Small Batch Soap Production

With all of this in mind, what are the tactile benefits of choosing cold-processed, small-batch soaps over hot processed, mass-produced soaps? Here are just a few to consider:

  • Cold processed soaps offer greater control over ingredients. Hot processed soap manufacturing is more akin to a brewing process than a gentle mixing process. Cold processed soap making allows the user to gently mix potent ingredients in creative and interesting ways.
  • Mass-produced soaps often contain irritants and other harmful ingredients. Mass-manufactured soaps which are made using heat often use more “filler” ingredients. Cold processed, handmade soaps are more likely to be natural, organic, and synthetic free.
  • Heat destroys active ingredients! We have mentioned this already, but it bears repeating. High heat changes the chemistry of active ingredients, which can destroy your soap’s usefulness.
  • Cold processed soaps may be better for your skin. As a result of the cleaner ingredients, more potent ingredients, and a lack of filler, cold processed soaps may be less likely to dry or irritate sensitive skin. This makes handmade, small batch soaps a great choice for all skin types!

Cold vs. Hot Processed Soaps FAQs

Are most modern soaps made using cold process or hot process techniques?

The majority of mass-produced soaps you will find in the store are made using heat. This is because mass manufacturing is cheaper and easier when heat is used to accelerate the process. Thankfully, many smaller companies opt for cold process soap making.

Cold Processed vs. Hot Processed Soap

Is cold processed soap biodegradable?

While this depends on the ingredients, natural, cold process soaps should almost always be 100 percent biodegradable. Additionally, choosing cold process shampoo bars over traditional bottled shampoo and conditioner saves plastic and has a lower overall environmental impact!

Is cold process soap as effective as hot process soap?

Absolutely! The main reason why hot process soap hangs around is for its low cost, not its effectiveness. Cold processed soap should be as effective if not more effective than other manufacturing methods when done properly.

The Yellow Bird Artisan Soaps and Shampoo Bars

At The Yellow Bird, we are proud to make all of our soap and shampoo bar products using cold process methods. Our soaps are always made the old fashioned way: by hand, in small batches, and without the use of heat. This may make for a lengthy manufacturing process, but we believe the end result is worth the wait!

Our soaps, shampoos, and other products are always made without parabens, sulfates, GMO, soy, or any synthetic chemicals. Many of our soaps are also vegan.

To find the best soap for you, take our fast and easy skincare quiz today or browse our large catalog of artisan soaps and shampoo bars!

Nicole P
Nicole P

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