What Does "Cold-Process" Soap Really Mean?

by Danielle De Guzman April 26, 2018

Cold-Processed Soap

At Edens Garden, we are committed to making sure our bodies are nourished and exposed only to revitalizing beneficial ingredients. Edens Garden natural bar soap incorporates 100% pure essential oils through a cold-processed soap method to ensure all of the aromatherapeutic benefits are left intact.

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, tasked with protecting your delicate insides from the elements. It is also highly absorbent, making it a significant gateway into the bloodstream.

The lotions, soaps, and deodorants that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis may contain toxic fragrances and synthetic chemicals that we definitely don’t welcome with open arms. 


All soap is the result of a chemical reaction called saponification that occurs between lye and a fat or oil (such as Olive Oil or Coconut Oil). Cold-processed soap, in particular, allows the lye to be neutralized without any outside sources of heat, called “curing”. This is quite a time-consuming process that allows for more gradual saponification. It can take 4-6 weeks for soap to become, well, soap. The lack of heat keeps the essential oils intact and in perfect condition to lather you in therapeutic goodness. It takes patience, but we think it’s worth it!

Cold-processed soap is made by mixing sodium hydroxide (lye) with water, blending it with fatty oils, and adding essential oils and natural colorants like clays. They are then poured into molds and take 24 hours to become soap (saponify). Once removed from the mold, they dry for an additional 24 hours before being cut into individual bars of soap. It’s at this point that the real action begins (although to us it just looks like bars of soap hanging out, doing nothing). Over the next 4-6 weeks, the soap “cures” as all of the lye is used up to break down the oils into their cleansing chains, and water is slowly evaporated, leaving a gentle, firm bar of soap.

When you cold-process soap, the fatty acids of the oils are broken down by the lye. They then form a chain which, on one end loves water, and on another end, loves oil. You can see these chains in action while you’re lathering up. The oil-loving end grabs on to the dirt and grime, and the water-loving end hangs on to the water that rinses it all away.

On top of the oils necessary for soapmaking, we also plump up our soap with extra vegetable-based fats to ensure there is plenty left to go around for everyone! The extra fat, or “superfat” remains intact, providing the moisturizing qualities we all love.

In contrast, hot-process soap is all about much more immediate results. Instead of placing the soap in a mold to cure, the liquid is placed in a heat source and heated until cured. Cold-process soap has the advantage of a gradual, more natural chemical reaction, resulting in a more nourishing, skin-compatible soap.


To be regulated as “soap” by the FDA, the product must be composed mainly of the material you get when you combine fats or oils with an alkali, such as lye. The cleaning action must be done entirely as a result of that material. This is why many commercial brand products avoid the word “soap” on their labels, instead using terms like “beauty bar” or “moisturizing bar”.

The word “soap” is heavily regulated by the FDA. Many of conventional products are actually detergents. The cleaning action is done by stripping the body of all oils through synthetic chemical ingredients. In fact, the glycerin that remains from soap processing (the same glycerin that is responsible for natural moisturizing) is removed from commercial soaps.

Why on earth would they do this? Well, when the glycerin is removed, it is instead placed into the lotions and creams displayed nearby in the grocery aisle. The soap dries out your skin, so you reach for the lotion to moisturize. You now purchased two items instead of just one. Tricky, indeed.

Synthetic detergents, such as dish soap, liquid hand soaps, and shampoos are very good at removing oils. A little too good, as they tend to strip skin of its natural oils and could leave your skin dry and itchy.

Cold-processed soap differs from industrially made soap in that an excess of fat is used, beyond that needed to consume the lye, and the glycerin left in acts as a moisturizing agent.

Over-the-counter soap is often made using a continuous flow method. The soap base is reused over and over again, with filler ingredients and chemicals added.This is not to mention the fragrances that most commercial products use. Companies with trademark fragrances like “Cherry Raindrops” and “Spring Forest Fire” are not obligated by the FDA to disclose the ingredients on the label. Which means these products could contain a plethora of harmful petroleum-based chemicals, many of which have been found to be carcinogenic and irritating to the skin. Our skin absorbs these chemicals, which can cause health issues over time.  

Edens Garden natural soap never uses fragrance oils or mystery ingredients. Now you can smell great and have the peace of mind knowing you haven’t exposed your body to any harmful chemicals. Essential oils are packed with amazing benefits on top of their aroma. Lavender has skin-nourishing qualities as well as therapeutic benefits. Lemongrass smells crisp and refreshing, while also containing microbial properties. There is ultimately so much more to gain by making the switch to natural soap.

COLD-PROCESSED VS MILLED (often marketed as French Soap)

Milled soap takes cold-processed soap a step further. In order to make milled soap, the natural skin-loving glycerin is removed from the original product to avoid gumming up the machinery. It is then shredded, separated, ground back together, and put through a machine (often with synthetic lubricants) up to three times to form a bar made out of soap flakes.

Many milled soaps are made with animal fats, which are not known to be effective cleansers. Synthetic ingredients and fragrances are often added to help the soap survive the machinery, and to make the soap shiny. Cold-processed soaps are made from scratch in small batches under artisan conditions. Although the same basic raw materials are used as triple milled soaps, only cold-processed soaps retain all of the glycerin that is natural to soap.  


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Edens Garden

December 23, 2020 at 8:55 am

Hi Archana! Thank you for your feedback–we will pass this along to our marketing team 😊


December 23, 2020 at 8:49 am

I am cold process soap maker and would be interested in the articles related to essential oils colour or overall process