mango sorbet rustic style hot process soap by JDNatlady's Creations

Handmade Artisan Soap v. Triple Milled Soap: What's the Difference?

Soap is one of those products that many people take for granted. It's something we use to cleanse our bodies, and most of us probably don't give it a second thought. There is a lot of confusion surrounding handmade artisan soap and triple-milled soap. But there is a notable difference between handmade artisan soap and the triple-milled soap. What's the difference? Is one better than the other? In this blog post, we will explore the differences between these types of soap, and help you decide which type is best for your needs.

simply but beautifully decorated small bar of soap

What is handmade artisan soap?

Handmade artisan soap is quickly becoming a popular choice for those looking for an alternative to mass-produced triple-milled soap. But what exactly is it? In simplest terms, it is scented or unscented soap that is made by hand using traditional methods. However, there is much more to it than that.

Ingredients to look for when buying handcrafted soaps

The best artisan soap is usually made with skin-loving ingredients such as olive oil and other oils or various types of butter such as shea butter without the addition of ingredients like detergents or additives that you may not need or want in your soap.

Often, the oils or butters used in natural bars are food-grade, organic, fair-trade, or sustainably sourced or a combination of these characteristics. There may be specialty add-ins such as clay, honey, aloe, or even charcoal and shea butter that is used in a charcoal and shea butter soap.

Handcrafted artisan soap bars are often handmade scented soaps that smell great because their scent comes from essential oils or high-quality, skin-safe fragrances. Typically the fragrances used are phthalate free. Some hand crafted soap bars are created with unique swirled or colorful designs. The ingredients used to create hand made artisanal soap work together to create a product that is not only beautiful but also beneficial for your body. They may be used in the bathtub or the shower.coral bar soap by JDNatlady's Creations

Some makers may package the bars with a paper or cardstock cigar band label or a simple jute string and a handwritten tag. Other makers may package them by hand in a nicely labeled soap box or with a label and shrink wrap.

Handmade artisan bar soaps are often made using a process called cold process soap making. In this process, the soap is made and allowed to cure for several weeks, typically four to six weeks. Handmade artisan soaps may also be made as hot process soaps, a process that involves the addition of heat to speed up the saponification process allowing for the soap to be ready to be used much sooner than cold process soap.

What is saponification and do artisan soaps go through this process?

Saponification is the chemical process by which artisan soaps and all other real soaps go through. Oils or fats interact with an alkali solution (aqueous alkali) to produce a fatty acid salt, which we commonly refer to as soap, and glycerol, which is also commonly called glycerin. The aqueous alkali or alkali solution used to create a bar soap is sodium hydroxide (lye) that has been mixed with water or other liquid. All of the sodium hydroxide (lye) gets used up so none is left over in the finished product. The natural glycerin created as part of the saponification process remains. This retained natural glycerin has great moisturizing properties. The process of saponification is an important part of soap-making, and it helps to create a soap- that is both cleansing and moisturizing.

handmade soap slices

Most artisan handmade soap makers will also "superfat" their soap so that there are unsaponified oils left over after the alkali has reacted with the oils. This provides a more luxurious soap that some find to be much more pleasant to use and less harsh than those that are not "superfatted."

Each batch of artisan handmade soap is made by hand, in small batches. This ensures that each bar of soap is of the highest quality and uniquely made. As a result, luxury artisan soap is a luxurious and nourishing way to cleanse and moisturize your skin. So if you're looking for something special to pamper yourself handmade artisanal soap may be the soap for you.

What is triple-milled soap?

Triple-milled soap is typically a mass-produced, factory-made product that undergoes a process called "milling." The multi-step process uses a milling machine through which the soap gets processed a minimum of three times. It is uniform in texture and coloring and looks like smooth bars of soap.

Triple-milled soap is also sometimes referred to as milled soap or French triple-milled soap. The use of the term "French" refers to the origins of the milling process which was first used in France as early as the 1700s. French triple-milled soap is typically higher quality and that term is to some people synonymous with luxury. Higher quality milled ones are often found in a specialty store or boutique.
triple milled bars

Triple-milled soap starts as regular soap using the saponification process discussed above but the soap is then processed further. Typically, the cold process method of soapmaking is used to create the soap that will be milled.

Manufacturers of triple-milled soap typically use soap or a pre-made base that has glycerin removed. When glycerin is removed, the soap becomes harsher and may produce one that is more drying for your skin. Often, if the manufacturer made the soap, it will remove the glycerin and sell the removed glycerin to other manufacturers or customers or use that glycerin to make other products such as hair care products or skin care products.

The soap with the glycerin removed is dried and processed into flakes or a fine powder or already purchased that way if the manufacturer is not the one who made the soap. The flakes or powder are then mixed with water to form a soap paste that receives further processing.

The less complex version of the triple milling process may involve just having the mixture pass through stainless steel rollers three times. A less-than-ideal product may result if the manufacturer passes the soap mixture through the rollers many more than the typical three times, so not all of these soaps will be high-quality.

two milled soap bars on a table

A more complex version of the triple milling process involves pushing through stainless steel rollers and mesh screens or metal plates with holes drilled into the metal plates. The soap will usually go through the mesh screens or metal plates three times with each mesh screen or metal plate having smaller and smaller-sized holes. As it is pushed through, the soap gets cut by another part of the machinery that has a series of rotating blade-like metal pieces that cut the extruded soap into tiny pieces. Some of the more elaborate manufacturing setups involve the use of conveyor belts between stages. So for some manufacturers, part of the process involves using a plodder machine that the soap passes through and conveyor belts to move the soap along during the milling process, while others may not use those types of machinery.

milled bars with lavender

The processing of the soap through rollers or rollers and a series of mesh screens or drilled metal plates gives the triple-milled soap its characteristic homogeneous look and feel. The high pressure from pressing the soap through the stainless steel rollers removes air pockets. The final milling leads to the soap being a paste that is then extruded, molded or stamped into bars. The triple-milling removes impurities and gives the soap a smooth, consistent texture. These bars often last longer due to the density of the bar and lower water content after the final processing. Some users also feel that they have a creamy lather.

It's important to read the ingredients on your soap, because some lower quality soaps may have chemicals added such as sodium laurel sulfate that you prefer not to have included in your soap or they may have had glycerin removed. Some manufacturers of triple-milled soap likely realizing the attractiveness of handmade soaps with their naturally retained glycerin may add glycerin back during some stage of the manufacturing process to create glycerin-containing soap. If you prefer to use these types of soap instead of artisan handmade soap, then you should select one that has glycerin as an ingredient instead of one that contains no glycerin. Make sure to get the highest quality soap that you are able to afford.


So, which type of soap is best for you? If you are looking for a smooth, hard soap with a consistent texture, then triple-milled soap may be the one to pick. However, if you prefer to support small businesses and artisans, and want unique small-batch soaps that lather well and smell as beautiful as they look then handmade artisan soap is the better choice.

Whichever type of soap you choose, make sure to read the ingredient list carefully to ensure that it meets your needs. This will help you avoid any potential irritants or allergens. And always test the soap on a small area of your body before using it all over. By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure that you're getting the best possible cleansing experience with the type of soap that you prefer.

So there you have it! The next time you reach for a bar of soap, take a moment to think about the difference between handmade artisan soaps and triple-milled soaps. And remember, the best soap for you is the one that meets your individual needs.

Thanks for reading! Do you prefer handmade artisan soap or triple-milled soap? Let us know in the comments

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