The Truth About Sodium Hydroxide NaOH (Lye)

Because so many of you have asked the question:
Why Sodium Hydroxide in Natural Soap or Shampoo bars?
We decided to explain and give you some inside into the cosmetic industry.
At the end of the day we think you should know exactly what you are applying in your hair and skin.

We use Sodium Hydroxide commonly noun as caustic soda or lye to saponify the oils.
Saponification is the chemical reaction of making soap. Once the saponification, is complete, the lye and oil molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and natural glycerine.
The lye is used up in the saponification process to turn oil into soap.

There is no sodium hydroxide present in the finished bars of soap or shampoo after the curing process. While all real soap must be made with sodium hydroxide (lye), no lye remains in our finished product after saponification. If it is real soap or contains real soap, it must be made with sodium hydroxide (lye).

Natural soaps, shampoo bars and some Commercial "soap" bars are made with lye, even though the words "sodium hydroxide" or "lye" do not appear on the labels. Saponified oils: oils and butters are mixed with sodium hydroxide and a liquid (usually water).

We prefer to use the real name in the ingredients of our products instead of the generic names used by some products to try to hide the real chemical. Soaps and shampoos made with Sodium Hydroxide NaOH (lye) for the saponification process are healthier and gentler than the ones using harsh SLS, detergents or other chemicals.

To give you an idea, below are a few of the names you will find commonly in cosmetics and other products.

  • Sodium Cocoate: the generic name for the saponified coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium liivate: the generic name for the saponified liive oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium Almondate: the generic name for the saponified almond oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium Castorate or Sodium Ricinlieate: the generic name for the saponified almond oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium palmate: the generic name for the saponified palm oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium palm kernelate: the generic name for the saponified palm kernel oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • Sodium Tallowate: the generic name for the saponified beef fat (tallow) with sodium hydroxide (lye).

The last three oils in the list we do not use in any of our products for environmental reasons, but you should be aware of their name to alert you.


FreshHandmadeCosmetics.co.uk uses cookies to enhance your experience, by continuing to use our website, you’re agreeing to our use of cookies policy.