Behind The Scenes: Here's How We Make Our Soap
We are best known for our extraordinary soap. After all, it's in the name: Rock Creek Soaps. There are endless possibilities when it comes to making soap, so it’s only natural that we get questions daily about how our soap is made. We think our process for making soap is pretty remarkable, and we want to take you behind the scenes to learn all about how we make our soap.
To put it simply, soap is made by combining lye and oils. At Rock Creek Soaps, we use oils that have a high fat content, because fatty acids are extremely nourishing for the skin. Each oil was selected to be a part of our special blend because of its skin nourishing properties.
When it comes to ingredients, we like to keep it simple. We have every ingredient that is needed to make a great bar of soap, and nothing more. No added chemicals or preservatives, no secrets or mysteries. We wanted our soap to smell good and look beautiful without compromising the safety and wellbeing of our customers, which is why we use phthalate-free scents and mineral micas (for color) in the soap. On our ingredients list, what you see is what you get: the soap is made with our unique blend of oils including Coconut, Sustainable Organic Palm, Castor, Olive, Avocado, Shea Butter, and Cocoa Butter. Our stamped soap collections are made with a completely organic blend of oils, including Coconut, locally sourced Organic Made in Montana Safflower oil, sustainable Organic Palm, and Castor Oil.
To learn more about the benefits of the ingredients we use in our soap, check out our ingredient glossary on our website.
Our soap making process begins with the creation of lye (also known as Sodium Hydroxide). Many people are hesitant when they hear the word lye because of its caustic properties. But did you know that all soap is made with lye? According to the FDA, in order to call something “soap,” it must contain an alkali such as lye. So, anytime you see a hand wash that does not contain lye, you will know that it is not real soap.
After the lye has been prepared, we warm up our premixed and batched oil blend in order to melt the oils. This process takes multiple hours. In the meantime, our production team works to prep everything needed for the soap making process. We prepare the colors and scents in advance, so the soapmaking process takes much less time. Although the entire soapmaking process takes over 30 days, the actual magic of making the soap typically only takes a fraction of that time.
It sounds simpler than it is: The next step in the process is to combine the oils, the lye, the scent, and the colors. All of the prep work makes this step easier, although it definitely takes a skilled soapmaker to ensure that this process goes smoothly. There are so many things that could go wrong! Our head soapmakers Rachael and Jen have spent years perfecting their signature recipes and methods in order to create the perfect soap.
Once everything has been combined with an immersion blender, we are left with a bucket filled with a soapy liquid mixture. This mixture is quickly poured into a mold. In order to make bigger batches, we created our own handmade wooden molds that the soap gets poured into. Each mold holds 90 bars of soap. Oftentimes, we make 12 batches at a time, which means that on average, we make over 1,000 bars of soap at a time. Once the soap is poured, the soapmakers decorate the top of the soap, and then let it rest.
In general, the process is the same for all our soaps, although each soap that we make has a different recipe and method. Have you ever wondered how we get the colorful swirls on our soap? It all has to do with the method of soapmaking. The reason why our soaps look like a piece of art is because soapmaking is an art in itself. The fun part about this aspect of soapmaking is that we could copy the exact same process for each batch of soap, yet each batch will still end up looking different from each other. Our bars of soap are like snowflakes-no two bars look the exact same.
The molds of soap are left to rest for 24 hours. During this time, the liquid mixture hardens to form an actual soaplike texture through a process called Saponification. Once the soap has hardened, it is ready to be cut. We have a custom made soap cutter that is designed to cut our big slabs of soap into multiple smaller loaves of soap. Once the soap is in loaves, it is cut again with a smaller soap cutter into its final bar form. The bars of soap are trimmed and carved to perfection before being stored on the curing racks.
Some of our soap requires an extra step in the cutting process: Stamping! The soap in our Home on the Range Collection, as well as our Soap for HER Collection each has stamps on them. These bars of soap are stamped by hand one by one.
During the cutting process, we also use a Montana shaped cookie cutter to cut our extra soap into samples. Many times your order from us will contain one of these Montana soap samples for free! This will allow you to try out our different soaps and find your favorites.
Once the soap is cut and set away on the curing racks, it remains untouched for 30 days. Letting the soap rest for 30 days allows it to fully cure and harden into perfection. At Rock Creek Soaps, we know that good things can take time, which is why we committed to a full month's worth of curing. Once you try our soap, you will understand why it’s worth the wait! Because our soap takes a full month to cure, we must very carefully plan ahead for what we make and when, in order to keep our shelves stocked for your convenience.
Once our soap has cured to perfection, it is ready to be packaged. Our packaging is 100% recyclable and biodegradable. Each box is hand stamped with a lot number that helps us keep track of inventory then our team sets up all the boxes, and then places the bars inside and closes them up. Once the soap is boxed, it is ready to be shipped out to you.
There are a lot of things that make our soap great: The ingredients, the great smell, the beauty, and the effectiveness. More than anything, what makes our soap so great is the way it's made. Each bar of soap receives the attention, love, care and effort of our team before making its way to you. Our soap is not a mass produced product made by machines, it is handmade by our soap family - for you and your family to enjoy. So, does the way soap is made matter? We say yes!