Cold saponified and superfatted soap: manufacturing and benefits for the skin

Cold saponification is an ancient method of Celtic origin. The first writings date from Pliny the Elder and his work Natural History (Naturalis Historia). The Celts indeed had a culture of oral transmission of knowledge, and the method of cold saponification was perpetuated until it was recorded by Pliny the Elder, born in 23 AD. After all these years, natural cold process soap is still in fashion today! Driven by collective awareness for more eco-responsible consumption because it consumes very little energy during its manufacture, cold saponified soap meets current demands. Consumers are looking for superfatted, natural and ecological solid soaps . Cold saponified soap meets these criteria: it is a real cleansing, nourishing and regenerating treatment for your face and body. Thanks to the virtues of its ingredients and vegetable oils, this natural soap respects your skin and protects your skin microbiota.
In this article, you will discover the multiple benefits for the skin of natural cold saponified soaps. This article will enlighten you in more detail on the principle of the cold saponification reaction and the definition of a “superfatted” soap. We will also share with you the secrets of the vegetable oils and butters contained in natural cold saponified soaps.

Cold saponification: for excellent quality soaps

Cold saponification is an ancestral and artisanal process for making natural and healthy soaps . These days, cold saponification is still trendy. This technique is entirely natural, respectful of the skin and the environment. Cold saponification is particularly appreciated, since it preserves the natural benefits of vegetable oils and butters and all the elements used in the composition of natural soap bars. Cold saponified soap is therefore part of an ecological, economical, ethical and responsible approach.

natural cold process soap

Cold saponified soap avoids adding chemical surfactants

Added chemical surfactants are molecules with foaming and detergent properties, present in the composition of the majority of commercial soaps, in particular so-called “soap-free” or “neutral pH” soaps. Mostly synthetic, surfactants are mainly derived from petrochemicals and present a more or less high risk for health and the environment. They allow the formulation of shower gels that are inexpensive but difficult to biodegrade. Bottles also cause additional waste.

Fortunately, these added chemical surfactants are replaceable, thanks to the saponification method. Cold process soap does not contain added chemical surfactants. The cold saponification reaction makes it possible to obtain real soap molecules. They are natural, since they are obtained from vegetable oils and butters of natural origin. These soap molecules have the advantage of having excellent cleaning and foaming powers.

From an industrial point of view, replacing added chemical surfactants represents a challenge: a soap with added chemical surfactants can be made in a few simple chemical steps. On the contrary, with cold saponified soap the chemical reaction takes hours, days, weeks. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for the reaction to be complete. It is therefore time and storage space that is mobilized. This solution is great for users, but costly for the business.

Cold saponification, an environmentally friendly technique

In addition, cold saponification is environmentally friendly. This technique reduces the environmental impact: with cold saponification, there is no loss in the soap manufacturing process. With cold saponification, you don't throw anything away!

Hot saponification promoted since Louis XIV

Saponification can be done cold or hot. Hot saponification became popular thanks to an edict by Colbert under the rule of Louis XIV. In 1688, this edict aimed to regulate the production of soap. It specifies that only pure olive oils can be used. And who, at the time, had major interests in olive oils? the royal factory...

This edict will make it possible to spread the hot saponification technique with heating the ingredients to 100°C. The raw materials are heated to speed up the reaction. In addition, hot saponification requires a salt water rinsing phase to remove excess soda. Hot soap, Marseille soap method, separates the glycerin from the rest of the soap. The glycerin is removed and a much drier, harder soap is obtained. Advantage, it does not sweat (does not make small drops on its surface) in a humid environment. Disadvantage: it no longer has glycerin and without adding superfat it will strip the skin. This is what will contribute to the feeling of tightness in the skin.

Cold saponification consumes few resources in its manufacturing process

Cold saponification, for its part, requires very little external heating and therefore very little energy. The oils and butters are heated to 37°C. Sodium hydroxide will react on contact with water and naturally rise in temperature. We will wait for the soda to drop to 35°C to mix it with the vegetable oils and butters. Cold saponification therefore uses this natural heat . In addition, cold saponification does not require rinsing with water and therefore consumes little water . The cold process soap manufacturing process is therefore environmentally friendly.

Cold saponified soap, a great example of green chemistry

Cold saponification respects the principles of green chemistry. The aim of green chemistry is to design chemical processes to reduce and eliminate the use of hazardous substances. Cold saponification is completely part of this approach.

Cold process soap does not require many ingredients, it can even be clean and minimalist.

Natural cold process soap is composed only of natural ingredients and fragrances, which makes it 100% biodegradable. When used, it does not cause any pollution of water or land. Cold process soap does not contain preservatives since the basic pH of this soap itself prevents the development of microorganisms.

Cold saponified soap, an economical and ecological alternative

Cold process soap is economical: a 100g bar of soap lasts as long as a 250ml bottle of shower gel . Thanks to its basic pH, it has a long shelf life. This natural soap is also multi-purpose: it can be used on the body as well as on the face.

Consequently, cold saponified soap is also ecological: it allows you to reduce your consumption of hygiene products. This natural soap also generates less waste, since it requires very little packaging.

Cold saponification preserves the benefits of vegetable oils and butters

During the cold saponification method, the raw materials used to make soap are not heated. The quality of the assets is therefore preserved. The properties and virtues of vegetable oils and butters are preserved in this natural soap. Natural cold saponified soap is therefore a real treatment, providing hydrated and nourished skin.


As its name suggests, natural cold saponified soap is obtained by the cold saponification method. More precisely, it is a chemical reaction between fatty substances (vegetable oils and butters) and a base (sodium hydroxide). Oils and butters consist of triglycerides and an unsaponifiable part. The triglycerides will react with sodium hydroxide and thus form soap molecules and vegetable glycerin.

Initially we had vegetable oils and butters and sodium hydroxide. On arrival, we obtain soap molecules and vegetable glycerin. With hot saponification, the glycerin separates from the rest of the constituents and is removed to be sold in other applications. Whereas with cold saponification, the glycerin remains in the soap, it is an integral part of it. Soap molecules are responsible for the cleansing and foaming properties of cold process soap. Vegetable glycerin is preserved following the cold saponification reaction, since it has many cosmetic properties. Glycerin provides softness and hydration. In addition, it naturally protects and preserves the hydrolipidic film of our skin, which is essential to us. Cold saponified soap is therefore not aggressive for the skin, on the contrary, it is gentle and moisturizing.

Vegetable oils and butters have an unsaponifiable part, which does not react during the cold saponification reaction. Unsaponifiables are preserved in the final product and provide a multitude of cosmetic benefits to cold process soap.

SURFAT SOAP: add excess vegetable oils and butters

What does the name “surgras soap” mean?

During the cold saponification reaction, vegetable oils and butters react with sodium hydroxide. The reaction is complete, it takes place until the reagents are exhausted. Sodium hydroxide reacted completely with butters and oils. This reagent is therefore entirely consumed and is no longer present in the cold saponified soap.

To ensure that the reaction is complete, the cold process soap undergoes a curing phase. This phase corresponds to a natural drying time of six weeks, during which the reaction will continue and end. The soap will dry and harden.

Additionally, to ensure the absence of sodium hydroxide in the soap, an additional quantity of vegetable oils and butters are added at the end of the reaction. This is called supergreasing and we then speak of superfatted soap. The term superfatted means that the soap contains unprocessed and therefore intact vegetable oils and butters, which will provide additional benefits to the skin and which were added at the end of the process, in addition to unsaponifiables.

Cold saponified superfatted soap: soaps with many virtues

This method of manufacturing superfatted soaps makes it possible to produce cold saponified soaps which preserve vegetable oils and butters and retain their exceptional properties for the skin for all those who have been placed at the end of the process, in superfatted soap. The superfat brings ultra-nourishing, softening and repairing properties to the soap depending on the oils and butters used.

Cold saponified and superfatted soap is therefore a mild soap: it provides softness and protection to your skin. It is suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive.
The other advantage of having a basic pH is that it naturally protects against micro-organisms: there is therefore no need to add preservatives to cold saponified superfatted soaps.


Superfatted silk soap

At the heart of the composition of vegetable oils and butters

As we have mentioned, the cold saponification method makes it possible to obtain soaps which preserve the natural properties of vegetable oils and butters. The choice of vegetable oils and butters will help guide the benefits for the skin in addition to gentle cleansing. We can thus seek to nourish, hydrate or soothe the skin.

Fatty acids, essential for our skin

Vegetable oils and butters are rich in triglycerides, compounds of fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for taking care of our skin: they provide it with hydration, tone and suppleness.

Unsaponifiables, active ingredients with remarkable virtues

Vegetable oils and butters contain an unsaponifiable part. It is in this part that the active ingredients which give excellent properties to vegetable oils and butters are concentrated. The activity of unsaponifiable molecules is remarkable with regard to the skin: they are notably nutritive, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Among the unsaponifiables, we find vitamins and minerals, participating in the overall health of the body. The fact of not increasing the temperature is particularly interesting for vitamins: vitamins are in fact degraded by heat. Cold saponification keeps the vitamins intact.

The specific benefits of each vegetable oil and butter for the skin

Each oil, each vegetable butter has a different composition and therefore its own cosmetic properties. Among a multitude of oils and butters, you must be able to make a choice that takes into account several criteria: the quality of the oil or butter to carry out the saponification reaction, the characteristics that the oil or butter will give to the finished product such as its hardness, its feel, its foam, and its qualities for the skin. For Benu Blanc's celestial cold process soap, we have selected 3 fatty substances with multiple benefits: organic coconut oil, rapeseed oil and shea butter ("True Shea" quality).

Coconut oil soap

Organic coconut oil, essential for a pleasant and foaming natural cold saponified soap

Coconut oil is the essential ingredient for a natural cold process soap that is pleasant to use, thanks to its cleansing and foaming powers. Coconut oil is composed on average of 65% fatty acids, mainly lauric acid, providing hardness to solid soap. Coconut oil contains up to 1.5% unsaponifiables. They are responsible for the soft feeling on the skin and the hydrating, emollient and antioxidant properties of coconut oil. The unsaponifiables are mainly tocopherols and vitamins. These vitamins will be preserved in particular due to the non-heating of cold saponification. Saponification really helps preserve these vitamins that are so beneficial to the skin. Tocopherols are vitamin E derivatives that act as antioxidants and protect our skin cells from oxidative stress. Vitamins B3, B5, B6 and E make coconut oil a very high quality oil for cosmetics.

Rapeseed oil, revealing naturally soft and nourished skin

Rapeseed oil, particularly mild, is rich in fatty acids. It is mainly linoleic acid offering a natural soap that nourishes the skin. Rapeseed oil contains a high proportion of phytosterols and vitamins (E and K). Phytosterols have a healing, restorative and anti-inflammatory action. They improve the skin's barrier function, microcirculation, slow down skin aging and protect against UV damage. Vitamin K, for its part, limits skin redness.

Shea butter, the key ingredient in cold process soap

Shea butter is the most used active ingredient in cosmetics. It is recognized for its nourishing, softening and regenerating properties for the skin . In fact, shea butter is composed on average of 80% fatty acids, mainly oleic acid and stearic acid. Stearic acid provides hard natural soap and stable foam, and oleic acid gives it nourishing properties. In addition, shea butter is one of the fats richest in unsaponifiables (up to 15%). Its unsaponifiables are phytosterols and vitamins (A, E, K). Its vitamins give it exceptional healing and anti-aging properties. As an extra oil, shea butter is particularly appreciated by dry or mature skin.

A little focus on “True Shea (TM)” shea butter: a sustainable sector to guarantee you excellent shea quality

It is possible to access different qualities of shea butter. Shea butter comes from shea fruits which contain an almond from which the butter is extracted. The shea tree is a 10 to 15 meter tree growing in the wooded savannahs of West Africa. You will find it in INCI cosmetic formulas under the name Butyrospermum Parkii. It is traditionally women who harvest the fruits of the shea tree and transform the almonds into butter. The True Shea label by Olvea ensures a fair origin of shea butter, a sustainable sector, and excellent quality of shea butter.

Conclusion: natural cold saponified and superfatted soaps are excellent for your skin and for the environment

You will have understood from reading this article on cold saponification and superfatted soaps, it is possible to make soaps which are excellent for the skin and which are respectful of the environment in two ways: due to the very low energy consumption and reasonable consumption of washing products at the individual level. To do this, we must return to green chemistry, to manufacturing processes that take more time but which allow us to make excellent products.
When we embarked on the project of making a natural cold-saponified and superfatted soap, with silk powder and a minimalist list of ingredients while providing numerous benefits to the skin, we had to go deep into the understanding the process of making cold saponified soaps, but also further exploring the properties of silk which is a noble and very particular natural material. We also had to decide on the different characteristics of the project: we chose to favor the benefits for the skin and the responsible, low-impact process, to the detriment of flexibility with the six weeks of cold saponification reaction and cosmetic components. inexpensive like some added chemical surfactants. We hope that you will appreciate this exceptional soap as much as we do, which brings to life the know-how of true master soapmakers and the expertise of silk. When you try this cold process soap and see the quality of the cleansing treatment and its effect on your skin, you will see the difference and appreciate this exceptional treatment.

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