At Sunnybrook Gardens Ltd, our all natural, vegan friendly, handmade soaps are hand-crafted with high-quality ingredients and a lot of love and care so that you can relax and enjoy using great soaps that are gentle and good for your skin!
What is handmade soap? We're glad you asked! Many of the so-called bars of "soap" you see at the grocery store aren't really soap at all but are detergents instead; chances are good that your skin knows the difference since they are usually much harsher than real soap! Simply put, handmade "real" soap is created when fats (we use the fat from plant oils and butters and not from animals) is combined with lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) to create soap in a process called saponification -- it's pretty awesome! Two things you wouldn't want to wash with combine (when mixed in the right proportions) to make something both cleansing and healthy for your skin! And just like cooking, there's a whole lot of ways you can do this-- which is why there can be a very big difference between the food at different restaurants and the soap from different soap makers.
All natural handmade soaps are not all created equally... and not everything that is natural is necessarily good for your skin! For example: poison ivy is completely natural, but you won't ever find it in our soaps! And while there is no "official" definition of the word "natural" when it comes to handmade soap, for us it is pretty straight-forward: it comes from nature (specifically from plants since we do not use animal products in our soaps) AND it's good for your skin! Plus, we care about where our ingredients come from and how they are grown too; which is why we choose organic, sustainable, and often fair trade varieties from trusted suppliers because we know that making great handmade soap begins with using high-quality ingredients.
What you won't find in our all natural, plant based soaps are animal products or any kind of artificial colors, preservatives, fragrance oils or any other bad stuff. If you are looking for brightly colored and highly scented soaps that smell like perfumes, candles or scented fabric softeners, you won't find them here. Those strong, chemical-laden, artificial scents give me headaches and have me running for fresh air! Instead, our all natural and vegan friendly soaps are available in lots of unscented varieties to be gentle on your skin and on your nose! And if you want a bit of scent without having to run for cover, our long-lasting hand-milled soaps are also available in many gently-scented varieties that are hand-crafted using therapeutic essential oils from trusted sources.
What do we mean by therapeutic essential oils? Just like the word "natural", there isn't an officially recognized definition for "therapeutic" when it comes to essential oils. What it means to us, and in turn for you, is that the essential oils we use in our soaps are from trusted sources and are created to retain the plant benefits and not just the smell... not all essential oils are created equally either and we are very particular about which ones we use in our soaps! After all, our skin is the largest organ of our body and what we put on it matters a great deal; so feed it with healthy things too! We work hard and take great care so you can relax and enjoy using some of the best soaps that are gentle and good for your skin!
We really love soap-making and joyfully create soaps using three different soap-making methods: cold process, hot process (for liquid soap), and hand-milled (also called re-batched).
Perhaps the most popular and commonly found type of handmade soap is created using the cold process soap making method. Here, oils and fats are mixed with a sodium hydroxide lye solution to create soap without adding any heat; the soap is poured into molds and left to rest and harden for a day or more before being sliced and then the fresh soap is given extra time to cure and dry for several weeks before being ready to use.
The feel and texture of cold process soaps is determined by the types and percentages of the oils used to create it. We love the creamy lather that organic coconut milk adds to our handmade soaps and also the satin-smooth feel from the organic oils and butters that we use! Cold process soaps can also be "super-fatted" meaning that there is extra fat left in the soaps after the saponification process is complete; all of our soaps are super-fatted and this gives them that nourishing, non-drying feeling that your skin will appreciate. Plus glycerin is a natural by-product of saponification, so soaps will contain naturally occurring glycerin as well and since we don't use any animal products in our soap, rest assured that it is plant based too.
There's an endless variety of ways and recipes for making cold process soap, but we are partial to just two that we have spent a lot of time testing and getting just right to create our all natural and vegan friendly soaps that are smooth and silky as well as gentle and good for your skin:
Our cold process Barbershop Shaving Soap is available as both round soaps and poured in jars for easy travel and camping trips too!
Our cold process Unscented Organic Coconut Milk Soap is satiny smooth and is available in bars or guest soaps and is the soap we use to make all of our Hand-milled Soap varieties!
The same recipe we use for our cold process Unscented Organic Coconut Milk Soap, but with added swirls of good-for-your-skin ingredients! Try our cold process unscented organic Golden Milk Swirl Soap and our cold process unscented organic Mocha Swirl Soap too!
Many soap makers create beautiful designs by adding dried flowers to their soap tops and I love seeing how pretty they look! However, you'll notice that we don't do that for our soaps and the reason is that all those pretty dried flower bits washing down the drain make for one very unhappy husband having to unclog the sink! So since "Happy Husband, Happy Life" is more the motto around here, we keep things simple and elegant and easy on your drains ;)
This is how we make our Unscented Organic Olive Oil Liquid Castile Soap! And you can make bar soaps using this method too. Here, the oil (we use only organic olive oil for our castile soap) is mixed with lye (we use potassium hydroxide to create a liquid soap) and is cooked by adding heat to accelerate the transformation into soap. It's truthfully not my favorite method, and there's a little less joy in me when I make it (haha!) but as opposed to cold process soaps which need additional time to cure and dry after being poured and sliced, hot process soap is ready to use much quicker after being finished. We add just a touch of borax solution to the liquid soap to balance the PH and it also acts as a natural thickener so the finished soap has both the proper neutral PH and a nice pourable consistency. Several hours later after stirring and baby-sitting and stirring the soap some more, the hot process method delivers a very gentle, unscented liquid castile soap.
Less common, but admittedly my favorite method, is hand-milled or re-batched soap making! Our hand-milled soaps are created by blending our hand-grated cold process Unscented Organic Coconut Milk Soap shreds with water (or coffee or tea!) along with other beneficial herbs and spices and/or essential oils, depending on the variety we are making and gently mixing them together over low heat before transferring them to a mold and slicing.
There are several reasons why making hand-milled soap is better than cold process soap, in my humble opinion... First, there's no lye to worry about when you're making hand-milled soap! Secondly, hand-milled soaps are very long-lasting! Plus, when adding essential oils for scent, the essential oils do not have to go through the saponification process that takes place during cold process soap making so there's no concern about damage to delicate oils. The biggest drawback to making hand-milled soaps are that they are very time intensive! Grating the cold process soap to make each batch takes a bit of time and energy, and each batch of our hand-milled soap makes only seven bars of soap at a time (and if that isn't small batch soap making, I don't know what is!) and it takes several more weeks for them to dry hard enough to be ready to label and sell. Truly, they are a labor of love! But one that we think is worth all the extra work and wait... we hope you will agree!
We love making them so much and make so many different varieties that it became necessary to create collections to be able to sort them out!
Fresh Air Collection of Unscented Soaps including Coconut Milk, Oatmeal, Witch Hazel, Water Kefir, Blue Water Kefir, and Activated Charcoal with white parchment labels
Flower Garden Collection of Floral Scented Soaps including Lavender, Geranium, Green Tea and Jasmine , Joyful, and Ylang Ylang with pink parchment labels
Herb Garden Collection of Herbal Scented Soaps including Gardener's, Chamomile, Lemongrass, Citrus Sage, Patchouli, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Calendula, Peppermint, Spearmint, Rosemary Mint and Wintergreen with green parchment labels
Country Kitchen Collection of Delicious Scented Soaps including Almond, Citrus, Earl Gray & Bergamot, Spiced Orange, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon & Oatmeal, Spiced Chai, Pumpkin Spice, Espresso Coffee, Chocolate Buttercream, and Vanilla Buttercream with yellow parchment labels
Great Escape Collection of Wood, Sea and Spa Scented Soaps including Cedarwood, Sea Clay, Shea Butter Spa, French Clay & Juniper, Frankincense & Myrrh and Fisherman's with blue parchment labels