Cold Pressed Castile Soap – A Return To Tradition

Cold Pressed Castile Soap – A Return To Tradition

By Ananda Mahony

Castile Soap – The Finest All Natural Soap

There has been a proliferation of natural hand made soaps available at markets, boutique shops and heath food stores over recent years. The ‘rediscovery’ of traditional cold pressed soap making methods has lead to the production of many various shaped, coloured and scented soaps that have a soft, creamy lather and are delicious to use.

Cold pressed soap is made by reacting fats or oils together with lye, a solution of caustic soda or caustic potash dissolved in water. While the fats and oils used may be derived from animal or vegetable sources, with Castile soaps, a particular type originating from Castile in Spain, they are made exclusively or predominantly from olive oil. Other oils employed in the manufacture of cold pressed soaps include coconut oil, castor oil, palm oil and rice bran oil in combination with olive oil. Ingredients such as essential oils, natural clays, honey, flowers, silk fibers and oatmeal may be added to create individual soaps that sometimes look like works of art.

Cold Pressed Soap & Saponification

Soap making includes a process called saponification in which the glycerol and fatty acid components of the oil are acted upon by lye to make a mixture of soap and glycerin. Lye may be a solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) or caustic potash (potassium hydroxide) dissolved in water. Once the soap has been saponified and matured properly it will not contain any caustic agents. This process ensures the glycerin is retained unlike commercial soap making. Retaining the glycerin makes a softer, milder soap which is emollient and moisturising to the skin. The bubbles from such soap are small and fine but plentiful.


Cold pressed soaps are generally cured for at least 4 weeks and up to 8 weeks. This method produces a white hard soap, which hardens further as it ages, without losing its whiteness. All cold pressed soaps are long lasting if they are allowed to dry between uses. However, if left in a dish with water these soap will dissolve quite quickly due to the retained glycerine content. Storing cold pressed soap in a soap rack is ideal.

Castile Soap – Gentle Enough for Babies

The benefits of these glycerine rich soaps, particularly when compared to commercial soaps are many. Cold pressed soap acts as a humectant, drawing moisture from the air to your skin. This is ideal for those with sensitive skin, for conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis or anyone allergic to commercial soap because it doesn’t strip the skin of natural, beneficial oils. Nor does this style of soap contain potentially harmful synthetic ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate which disrupt the acid mantle and dry out skin. Castile soaps are also mild enough to use on babies’ delicate skins.

Castile soaps are a bathing treat, creamy on the skin and delicious to use. The return to traditional soap making methods is certainly a positive step in soap making for both cottage industry as well as the end users – you and me!

For more information about Castile soaps contact Ananda Mahony ND at or at

As a naturopath Ananda has been involved in the natural skin care industry for many years. She specialises in the treatment of skin disorders such as acne, eczema, rosacea and dermatitis as well as anti-aging.

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