It can be hard to appreciate the work that goes into the neat little bars of Heyland and Whittle soap when they arrive in the post or you pop them in your shopping basket.
We're all used to being able to choose from a variety of personal care products, but there is more than scents and packaging that sets our products apart from other varieties of hand and body soap.
For starters, we don't put anything nasty into our traditional soaps. When we say natural products, we mean it. We don't add parabens or chemicals to our soap. Instead, we make the most of beautiful natural oils and colourings to create a gentle and effective product that is suitable for everyone.
Every single one of our solid soaps is made using the cold processed method, which has now become a very rare way of producing this bathroom staple.
This involves gently warming a number of pure oils - including palm (which is organic and certified sustainable), olive, coconut and castor seed oils, and cocoa seed butter - to their natural melting points. We tend to do this overnight so the oils are ready to go in the morning.
A mixture of these oils is slowly added to lye, which is a natural alkaline solution derived from salt. The combination of the oils and alkaline create an almost instant reaction that sees the mixture thicken and change colour to become cloudy.
While this is mixing away - it all goes into one big mixture that is suitable for single batches - we create the scents you all know and love by combining pure essential oils, herbs and spices, and flower extracts. These get added to the oils and alkaline, as do natural colourings like turmeric, madder root, walnut leaves and nettle leaves.
We also add other natural ingredients, such as poppy seeds and oats for our Oatmeal and Spice Soap, to create exfoliating soaps.
Once the soap has reached the right consistency, we pour it into our simple square moulds. These then go into 'the ovens', which are actually sealed wooden boxes. These don't produce any heat because the reaction between the oils and the alkaline means the soap heats itself.
Each block stays in the oven for a few days until it has become solid. It then gets placed in a dry room to cure for around six weeks. This means the soap is becoming even harder due to excess moisture being removed from it.
This process is important because if the soap is too wet, it will disappear too quickly and can actually go off. Neither of these things is ideal so we avoid them by giving it lots of time. In fact, the process continues even after the soap is packaged, which means if you have a bar lying around for a while and it becomes really hard, it will still be great to use.
When the soap is ready, it is hand cut and weighed into the different shapes and sizes so it is ready for packaging. In fact, it is the job of just one person to cut and weigh every single piece of soap!
The soap is then boxed up into individual packages or included in our stunning range of gift sets, all ready for the final stage of its journey - getting sent out to you.