Inside & Out

We often get asked something like, "Is the right soap going to clear up my skin problem?" Did you know that soap companies are not allowed to make health claims for their soap unless they want to be regulated by the government under rules for health and medicinal products.

In our family quest to use items with pronounceable ingredients in what we eat and use on our bodies, we have been richly rewarded. As our friends know, we have been changing the way we eat around here--drastically. We seriously want to escape the 'Average American Diet'. We have moved to a "high protein, and 'best carbs' diet". I think you could say that we are mainly avoiding highly processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and unpronounceable ingredients. Our bodies are telling us that with better nutrition we are indeed on the right path. For a couple of us who needed to gain weight there have actually been healthy weight gains; and for some of us who were overweight, we have lost around 25 lbs each. For the teenagers who had struggled with acne, there have been improvements that are amazing. We are feeling better in many ways.

So we have been thinking a lot about how important it is not only to be good to our skin with natural ingredient soaps and body products, but how urgent it is to get to the core of the issue and eat in a more healthy way. We seem to have a runaway train between our science and food industries in this nation. If some wild color will frenzy a child into eating his Cereal-O's in the morning, we have "gone there" without thought as to what we are doing to our health. Stepping off of that train has made an amazing difference for us. Having come to both a healthier way of eating and to our cold processed soaps, we are very happy to have found what is best for both our insides and outsides. This has taught me to say to customers that what we put on our bodies is very important, but what we put in them is core!

Of course, Katherine Leslie Soaps are as natural as we can make them with no color or fragrance other than natural essential oils and foody additives like oats, flax, organic cocoa powder, almonds, and even coconut.

Introducing Our Science Advisor

Katherine Leslie Soaps is delighted to introduce our readers to someone who has an incredible talent for explaining molecular goings on, and a sense of humor as well . He has chosen to keep his day job for now, and be identified on this blog only as "Uber Brainiac". I will address him as "Doc". Doc is a high school friend who has since reached dizzying heights in the research laboratory. He has very generously agreed to occasion us with helpful descriptions as needed. We thought that a good place to begin would be with a definition of the word "saponification".

Picking the Big Brain: Saponification

Saponification is a chemical reaction whereby a fat or oil (fatty acid ester) is hydrolyzed with an alkali to produce an alcohol and the alkali salt of the fatty acid.

  1. Mostly, we think of fats or oils as triglycerides (three fatty acids connected to the same alcohol-end of a molecule).

  2. When the alkali (also called “caustic soda” or “caustic” or “sodium hydroxide” or “lye”), typically in a water solution, reacts with the ester, the reaction takes place that we call saponification.

  3. As soon as all of the ester linkages are hydrolyzed by the caustic, one molecule of glycerin is created, and, in the case of a triglyceride being used, 3 molecules of the “soap” are created. The soap is actually the sodium (Na) or potassium (K) salt of the triglyceride acid. Neat thing about this is: the end of the molecule with the K or Na on it is “water-loving” or hydrophilic and the “fatty” end is water-fearing, or hydrophobic. That’s what makes soap work. The fatty end attaches to the dirt (grease, oil, etc…) on your skin, and the water-soluble hydrophilic end allows the soap-encrusted grease particle to be rinsed away. This soap-encrusted grease particle is sometimes called a “micelle.” (MY-sell)

  4. Glycerin, or glycerol, is a by-product of this reaction, and is actually an alcohol by chemistry classification. Although glycerin is classified as such, it is an emollient and humectant...

    (from Wiki)

    Pharmaceutical and personal care applications:

    Glycerol is used in medical and pharmaceutical and personal care preparations, mainly as a means of improving smoothness, providing lubrication and as a humectant. It is found in cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products, and soaps.

Cool stuff! ~U.B.

The Aqua Effect & Cut Soap Bar Pictures

The base soap recipe that we use for most of our bars makes a wonderful lathering, and skin friendly soap. We have been able over the years to formulate a handful of recipes that we really like. But this particular recipe does the neatest thing! It gives us the "Aqua Effect" when freshly cut. This visage of aqua blue disappears within only a few hours as the soap bars are exposed to air and begin to cure. Batch after batch, if the soap is left mostly its creamy natural color, the soap bars are blue inside when cut. This does not appear in the recipe when we add oats or flax, or other additives that make the soap a beige color. We have never seen this aqua blue on any other recipe either, even if left to its lightest natural shades. The "Aqua Effect" designation is entirely our own. There is probably a proper scientific name for what is happening, but either way it is an aqua color, and it is lovely. In this particular batch with rosemary leaf bits inside, it is still visible and very pretty to see.

Included also in the same picture is the way the bars will look on the top. Each one has a few leaves of rosemary and a creamy white color, with a gentle frosting like texture to the soap surface.

Also we have a Picture of the cut "Coconut Dark Chocolate Swirl" bars. All these bars are freshly cut and will have their edges beveled before sale. Beveling is done for ease of use, so the bar can roll over better in the users hand, and it also provides the shavings which we use to make our "Shades of Natural" soap.

Been Soaping 2

The second batch we made this afternoon is named "Coconut Dark Chocolate Swirl". This "no artificial colors or fragrances" soap is a bold beauty! We recently bought some organic cocoa that is the absolute darkest we have ever seen. Today we blended just a little bit of it in a batch of soap. The cocoa has made a deep, dark, delicious swirl you see.

The batch is textured naturally with the addition of fresh, finely ground, unsweetened coconut. The scrubbiness will be definite, but gentle. These ingredients are so much like a "Mounds Bar", and the colors are right on. But the fragrance will be due alone to the soap, ground coconut, and dark cocoa powder. It will be a pleasure to discover where this soap takes its own fragrance in the weeks to come. This picture is of an entire batch weighing over 10 pounds. Come back to see the cut soap bars picture tomorrow.

Been Soaping ~Read This Post for Contest~

Been soaping this afternoon. We had a really enjoyable time working with some new essential oils--many thanks to Dr. BJ! We made two batches.

This batch has already provided a Mom moment! When I came back to my soap studio, just before dinner, with one of my teen aged sons along, to get the photo you see, I lifted the lid on the batch and he immediately drew in a breath and said, "That looks like buttery mashed potatoes with chives!" I think my impression of this soap is a bit more sophisticated and herbal than he has in mind.

Here is a creamy white soap, with tiny bits of fresh rosemary leaf swirled through it in areas; some areas of each bar should remain pure creamy white. I will add cut pictures of this soap tomorrow. On top is a nice swirly texture from working with the thick soap after it was poured. Finally we sprinkled a few fresh whole leaves of rosemary on the surface. The picture is of over 10 pounds of soap. When cut, each bar may have only 4-6 leaves on top. And did I mention the wonderful Essential Oil blend of Mint and Rosemary which fragrances it naturally? This one is already smelling so nice! I am going to have a real impatient wait until I can try it in a few weeks. Cold Process soaping really teaches you that good things come to those who wait! It was a delight to make.

If you would like a chance to win a couple of bars (two) of this soap for free, please send us your suggested names for this batch by commenting below. Please be sure to provide your email address so we can contact the winner. The name chosen will be entirely at the discretion of Katherine Leslie Soaps. Naming opportunity will last until 7pm Eastern time on March 19th, 2008. If your name for this soap is chosen, we will send you two bars, we pay postage to United States destinations.

Katherine Leslie's Variety Pack

We got to thinking that it would be nice to have a way to try all 6 of our most basic facial & bath soaps. This is it; 6 full sized 4 oz bars of Katherine Leslie Soaps. Included are both smooth elegant bars, and textured bars with natural additives like Oats, Flax, or even Salt. Each one is a fine soap for facial or bath & shower use. All of our facial and bath soaps are formulated with coconut or goat's milk, and silk protein. Various textures, Unvarying Quality.
Available at

Pine Tar Soap

We have been making Pine Tar Soap for years. Pine Tar has a distinctive fragrance all its own. Though it is not a perfumy scent, it is a fine skin soother. My Father has a hilarious story from his childhood about getting into chiggers and his Mother washing him off with pine tar soap. I have a friend with beautiful thick, super curly hair who uses our PineTar Soap occasionally to keep her scalp clean and itch free. We have also used this bar on our beautiful German Shorthair Pointer, whose hair is so short that any skin irritation shows up red right through her coat. When we first got this dog we thought the rose red on her sides was so pretty, then we realized that it was irritated skin. We were sold on our own soap when one Pine Tar Soap bath was the end of the redness! For years now we have bathed her in Pine Tar Soap every couple or three weeks and the itchy redness has not returned. This is the only soap we make without silk protein or a milk additive. Pine Tar is all this bar needs to keep man and beast alike happy around here! Bars weigh in at 3.5 ounces each.  Available at

Lord Grey

This is the second of a complimentary set of His & Hers soaps. Lord Grey is colored with powder of activated charcoal, but just a little bit deeper in shade than "Lady Grey". It is fragranced with the same essential oils, Peppermint, Sage, & Lavender, but with a slight proportion difference tilting the scent toward the masculine. As I woman, I would not hesitate to use this soap--it's not an all macho guy scent, just a refreshing blend that has had the sweetest fragrance note reduced a bit from Lady Grey's. Lord Grey is bar with a thick lather enhanced by coconut milk and silk protein. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each. Order from

Lady Grey

This is Lady Grey, one of a His & Hers set of complimentary soaps. When we first formulated this soap, we were trying to imitate the color of a friend's eyes. She was wearing autumn shades, and though her eyes do shift color in different lights or with what she wears, that day they were a lovely cool gray that made me think of Aspen bark in contrast to its autumn yellow leaves. Becky, this one's for you! I had planned to name this soap "Becky's Eyes", but after it was finished, I realized that though it is a lovely gray shade, I could never make a soap to look like the deep, God created beauty of anyones eyes, so we used the name "Lady Grey" instead. This is a soap with no artificial color or fragrance. Lady Grey is mildly colored with powdered activated charcoal. The fragrance is an invigorating blend of Peppermint, Sage, & Lavender essential oils. Lady Grey has a slight texture and a creamy white lather which is formulated with coconut milk and silk protein. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each. Order from

St. Mary Mead -- An English Countryside Soap

Introducing "St. Mary Mead". This is a mildly textured soap with finely ground, then boiled almond. The almond lends a rich beige color with flecks of dark brown. As this texture is mild, I think that it will be comfortable even on delicate aged skin. Being a lover of English manor house mysteries, Agatha Christy's crime solving heroine, "Miss Marple" came to my mind. The soap is fragranced with essential oil of lavender for a classic fragrance that still sings today. A facial and bath soap with no artificial colors or fragrances, St. Mary Mead is formulated with double rich cow's milk and silk protein. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each. Order from

Carol's Birthday Soap

This is "Carol's Birthday" soap. Carol loves cinnamon. This is a smooth, naturally white soap with embedded chunks colored with cinnamon bark powder. The cinnamon smell comes through and is the forefront fragrance. The cinnamon powder will provide a slight texture in the chunks. The chunks themselves make this bar a massage bar as the soap is used, the peaks are washed into a smooth yet mountainous surface. Just rub the corners of the peaks with a wet wash cloth the first time you wet the bar to smooth them a bit, and you have a massage bar. This lovely soap is a sure favorite.

Formulated with coconut milk and silk protein, the lather is delightful, and the art is evident. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each. Order from

"Shades of Natural" Soap

This soap is made by pouring our Pure Smooth soap over the shavings we get from beveling soap bar edges. The shavings are from at least 4 of our more deeply colored varieties of soap. The soap is variously textured with shavings of our other soaps. Formulated with coconut milk and silk protein, the lather is delightful, and the art is evident. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each. Order from

Kathy's Knit Soap Drawstring Bag

Here is a beautiful, 100% cotton, hand knit drawstring bag into which you may place any bar of Katherine Leslie Soap. Specially designed to fit our bar size and shape. Knit bag comes in natural colored, unbleached, ivory shade. This is one way to build lather quickly, and elegantly. Bag pictured with soaps, but is sold separately. One knit bag is $10.00 Order yours at

Pure Smooth Soap

This is Pure Smooth Soap. It is our most simple basic soap for facial and bath use. Each creamy bar is amazing in smoothness, with a lather enhanced by coconut milk and silk protein. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each.  Order from

Goats Milk Soap

This is our Goat's Milk Soap. It is a silky smooth, non-textured soap, ideal for facial or bath use. It is made using goat's milk and silk protein, with no artificial colors or fragrances. Bathe in luxury with Goat's Milk soap that just smells of pure clean soap. Full creamy lather washes gently. Bars weigh in at 4 oz each.  Order from

"Old Flax Mill" Soap

This is our ground flax seed soap. The flax makes this bar smell mildly of a morning flax muffin. The light texture is reported by many to be "just right". Perfect for facial or bath use. Big creamy lather washes you clean, yet with the moisture of flax. Formulated with coconut milk and silk protein, and no artificial colors or fragrances. Bars weigh in at 4oz each. Order at

Almost Promised Soap

This is our oatmeal soap with just a touch of clove. My Mother really liked the texture of the ground oats in a soap I made with oats, milk, and honey which we called "Promised Land". But, she wanted just the oat texture, and not necessarily the milk & honey, so we made her a soap with coconut milk rather than cow's milk, and left the honey out. When it was done, we needed to call it something, we decided that it was so similar to the previous rendition, that we called it "Almost Promised".

The top is sprinkled with whole rolled oats. This bar is wonderful for a bit of texture and scrubiness. It is fragranced naturally with oats and clove. Rich lather with time honored oats, a bath time classic formulated with coconut milk and silk protein, and no artificial fragrances or colors. Bars weigh in at 4 ounces.