Every single bar of our traditional soap is handmade using only natural ingredients in our factory in Crawley. Not only are they made by hand, they are also cut and packaged by hand too, meaning we know that every bar is the best possible quality.
But it isn't enough to simply say that our soap is handmade, as this doesn't really tell you about all the hard work that goes into choosing the ingredients, making them and ensuring you get the same bar every time - or as close as we can get it.
We use the cold processed method of soap production, which is the traditional way to make soap, and isn't used by many companies today. This allows us to make use of beautiful ingredients and has been the way we've made our traditional soap since Heyland and Whittle started out.
To start with, all of the ingredients that go into each bar of traditional soap are natural. This includes the fragrances and colourings, so there are no synthetic ingredients or detergents in the mix. It also means there are no preservatives, such as parabens, so they are ideal for all skin types.
We combine organic certified palm oil, olive oil, coconut oil and castor seed oil with cocoa seed butter, all of which are gently warmed overnight so they are liquid and ready to use in the morning. These oils and butters are added to a natural alkaline solution that is derived from salt.
The ingredients are all added to a single mixer that has been running for years and that is manually operated. The reaction is almost instantaneous, with the oils and alkaline combining to create a thick mixture that has a cloudy colour.
We only mix enough at a time for single batches, which ensures we can keep an eye on quality and set up for another soap type on the same day.
Colourings and fragrance
Once the soap mixture has started to thicken, we add a blend of essential oils that is unique for each of our traditional soaps. We also add any colourings, which create the beautiful and natural colours you'll see with each of our soaps.
When it comes to the colourings, we use things like nettle, madder root, turmeric, and walnut leaves rather than synthetic options. These add more properties to the soap that will benefit your skin and also keep in-line with our promise to use natural ingredients where we can. Because the colourings are natural, they can change slightly from batch to batch, so one bar of the same soap may be slightly darker. This is just because of the way the ingredients have grown.
On top of the colourings and fragrances, some of our soaps have other added extras. We add goat's milk to our Queen of the Nile and Jasmine and Lilac bars - which are the only soaps that aren't vegan - oats and poppy seeds to our Oatmeal and Spice soap and witch hazel, peppermint and rosemary leaf to our Tea Tree bars. Every extra is also natural so is gentle on your skin.
Once the soap reaches the right consistency, we pour it into the 'ovens', which are actually sealed wooden boxes. While the boxes themselves don't produce any heat, the reaction between the alkaline and oils does so the soap effectively 'cooks' itself.
We keep each soap block in the ovens for a few days until it has become solid, at which point we remove them from the box and store them in a dry room. They stay here to cure for up to six weeks, which means they get harder and shrink slightly as the excess moisture evaporates.
This means you are left with a bar of soap that lasts a lot longer, as the harder the soap is, the more washes it will produce while still creating lovely soft foam. If soap is too wet, it will get used up much quicker and can go mouldy.
The curing process actually carries on even after the soap is packaged, which means that a bar you've had lying around for ages will actually be great to use, even if it has gone really solid. This is even without chemical preservatives being added!
Once the soap is ready, every bar is weighed and cut by hand, producing our soap bars, bricks and favours, as well as all the soap that goes into our gift sets. None of the soap gets wasted as every bit of it can be used for something.
All of this means that when you get your traditional soap bar, you know it has been made with the utmost care, using only the best ingredients, and will deliver fantastic results every time.