Compounding the Soap
Pharmacy & Soap Making
Pharmacy and soap making share a common thread in that both require a knowledge of compounding. Ellie’s challenge was to craft a product with shea butter but without using colorants, fragrances, or essential oils. She chose ingredients weighted towards the other key properties of a quality goat milk soap—lathering well, long lasting, cleansing, as well as conditioning the skin.
The Conditioning Properties
Conditioning is a term commonly used to describe the emollient and humectant properties of an ingredient.
- Emollients increase the skin’s water content by reducing evaporation.
- Humectants attract water to the upper layer of the skin.
Therefore, the conditioning properties of an ingredient allow the external layers of the skin to remain softer and more pliable; this in turn promotes the natural elastic properties of skin.
Fatty Acids—the Backbone of Soap Making
The oils and the shea butter contain fatty acids, which are the backbone of soap making. Choosing the right fatty acids reminded Ellie of baking a pie crust. A crust requires flour, water, and fat—which can be butter, shortening, animal fat or oil. How one combines these basic ingredients will result in either a delectably flaky crust or, well, not. Ellie needed to select oils with attributes that, once combined with goat milk and sodium hydroxide (lye), would achieve the perfect balance of nature and science to nurture the skin.