Of late, you may have noticed a litany of products described as being made with ‘cold’ techniques; in addition to the currently popular ‘cold brew’ method of making coffee, perhaps you have also seen such phrases as ‘cold-pressed’ being used to describe juices and essential oils, or ‘cold processed’ to refer to unassuming and unremarkable looking bars of soap (this is particularly so if you shop specifically for handmade soap).
And maybe after a while, you may have just concluded that anything made with these ‘cold’ methods must be superior in some way, even if you are not sure of why that might be. If you have ever, even fleetingly, wondered what the ‘cold’ element of such a description refers to, and what, if any, benefits products made using ‘cold’ techniques have over those made with other methods, read on to find out a little more about this rather interesting topic.
Do the terms ‘cold-pressed’ and ‘cold processed’ refer to the same thing?
In a word, no.
The term “cold-pressed” usually refers to a method of extraction for juices or botanical oils, whereas “cold process” refers to a traditional method for the making of soap through the saponification of oils with lye.
The common characteristic of these processes is the fact that no heat is used (hence the use of the word ‘cold’ to describe the processing) throughout the production process. These terms apply to different types of products and processes and therefore they cannot be used interchangeably.
So then, what does ‘cold pressing’ mean?
In the context of cold-pressed juices, the method of cold-pressing involves utilizing a hydraulic press (a cold-pressed juicer), a machine which uses immense pressure to extract as much juice as possible from fresh fruits and vegetables. In the cold-pressing of plant oils, flower buds and fruit peels, amongst other things, may also be pressed using a similar hydraulic equipment.
No additional heat, oxygen, or solvents are used in the extraction process for both juices and oils, meaning that the nutritional qualities of the products are not compromised or adulterated as compared to methods involving heat or chemical solvents, and the product remains ‘pure’ in this sense.
How long can I keep cold-pressed juices for?
In their raw, unpasteurised form, cold-pressed juices only have a shelf life of three to four days before potentially harmful microbial growth begins to occur. These microbes can pose serious food safety risks – this is an especially serious consideration for young children or women who are pregnant, as their immune systems are often weaker.
Choose HPP-pasteurized juice
In order to address the issue of a very short shelf life, many producers of the cold-pressed juices available on the market have adopted a pasteurization method known as high-pressure processing or HPP. In HPP, the already-bottled juices are submerged in cold water and subjected to high pressure, which kills pathogens. This increases the shelf life of a bottle of juice from just three to five days to an impressive thirty to forty-five days, all without compromising the nutritional value of the juice in the way that the application of heat would.
If you are cold pressing your own juices but aren’t intending to drink them immediately, it might be a good practice to label them with the date that they were made on for the same reason as mentioned above.
Benefits of cold-pressed juices and oils
Juices: fast and easy nutrition
Many of us struggle to get our ‘five a day’. Although the consumption of juices – yes, even those that are organic, homemade, cold-pressed, made from superfoods, et cetera – should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet, enjoying cold-pressed juice made from fresh, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is one way of adding a quick nutritional boost to your diet. It’s a great way of accommodating your fast-paced lifestyle.
But what makes cold-pressed juices better than regular juice?
1. Higher nutritional value
The essential vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are not lost during the cold-pressing process. This maintenance of nutritional integrity is why cold-pressed juices seem to be so popular with the health food crowd.
2. More cost-effective
If you are planning to cold-press your own juice, there’s more good news.
According to experiments conducted by the Huffington Post, you will be able to extract more juice through the use of a cold-pressed juicer than through other methods. The difference in yield is especially significant in the case of leafy greens (eg. nutrient-dense kale and spinach). As it takes less fresh fruit and vegetables to give you your daily juice fix with a cold-pressed juicer, cold-pressed juicing also gives you more bang for your buck.
Benefits of cold-pressed skincare oils
If you use botanical oils (such as argan oil or olive oil) as facial serums or as part of facial treatments, for instance, you might be more comfortable choosing cold-pressed oils. These oils do not contain any trace amounts of solvents or other additives that may affect their purity, meaning that they may be less likely to cause a bad reaction to delicate and sensitive facial skin.
Benefits of cold-pressed essential oils
The same goes for essential oils – however, cold-pressed essential oils have a different scent compared to steam-distilled varieties; they are often perceived as ‘fresher’ and ‘sharper’ smelling. If you are, for example, using essential oils in a burner in your home and would really prefer not to switch out your favourite scent, you don’t need to replace your current oils with cold-pressed essential oils as they’re not necessarily healthier.
Cold-processed soap – what is it and how is it made?
Cold process soap making is a method which involves the mixing of oils (common botanical oils include olive, coconut, and palm) with sodium hydroxide (more commonly known as lye), an alkali. What results is a chemical process called saponification, which creates soap.
Making soap safely
A number of precautions have to be taken when making cold process soap. The lye solution used in soapmaking is highly alkaline and hence potentially corrosive to skin.
Proper safety equipment, such as goggles and gloves, is a must. As any excess lye at the end of the saponification process that did not react with the base oils will be present in the finished soap, it is also crucial to measure out the exact weight of lye to be used in the soap formula.
In order to ensure that all the lye in the recipe would have reacted with the oil, many soapmakers ‘superfat’ their soap. This means that they add a little more oil to the recipe beyond the calculated amount for a ‘superfat percentage’ which is usually of anywhere from between 5% to 20%.
Although soaps with a higher superfat percentage may be more nourishing, they may also be overly soft and may not lather up very well. Looking at the superfat values of a bar of soap can indicate how moisturising the soap will be. This is one way for you to compare different soaps when making a decision on what would be best for your skin.
What makes cold process soap better than my usual body wash?
1. Tailored to your skin’s needs
In cold process soap making, there is absolute control over the ingredients used in order to formulate bars with the desired properties. Some aspects that can be controlled are:
- Lather (coconut oil, castor seed oil, and animal fat, such as beef tallow, create excellent foaming)
- Mildness (olive oil is renowned for its soothing properties and gentle lather)
- Additional cosmetic benefits (with the addition of special oils, such as macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, pumpkin seed oil or emu oil)
Some other commonly-added ingredients are:
- Powdered herbs
- Calendula flowers (or calendula-infused oil)
- Sulfur powder
- Colloidal oatmeal
- Activated charcoal
- Cosmetic clays such as French pink clay and Cambrian blue clay.
A base oil, sodium hydroxide solution (lye mixed with distilled or spring water), and essential oils or the ingredients above are also nearly always the only ingredients in a bar of cold process soap. This gives some peace of mind with regard to the ingredients list.
2. Naturally more moisturising
As a result of the saponification process, such soaps contain glycerin, which is a humectant and skin-softening ingredient.
In commercial soapmaking, the glycerin from saponification is actually almost always removed and sold for use in other products. That’s why such soaps usually feel harsh and drying. If you’re afraid that cold process soap will be as stripping as the bar soaps you are used to – don’t be! They are much milder than you’d think.
Cold process soaps that have been milled are even more moisturising. This is a process in which finished and cured soap is grated or finely milled in order to mix it with even more skin-loving ingredients such as additional botanical oils or butters, before being molded back into shape, resulting in a bar that’s been even further enriched with nourishing ingredients.
When properly stored after use on a draining soap rack, cold process soap is typically very long-lasting, thus being a more pocket-friendly and economical choice. In general, soaps with a longer curing time tend to remain harder and thus be more long-lasting. Hence when buying cold process soap, ensure that the soap has cured for a minimum of two weeks – ideally longer, even up to several months.
Can I use cold process soap on both my face and body?
The answer is: yes, but with a minor, yet important caveat.
As mentioned earlier, soaps are alkaline. This might damage your skin’s natural acid mantle and cause dryness, flaky skin, breakouts, clogged pores, and more. As such, those with sensitive skin may find that cold process soap as a facial cleanser might not be the best option for them.\
If you do decide to use cold process soap bars on your face, it might be a good idea to follow this up with a pH balancing toner and a moisturiser that’s also pH balanced so as to maintain your acid mantle, which is around pH 5.5.
Do cold process soaps smell good?
Cold process soaps can be fragranced with fragrance oils (made with a mixture of natural and synthetic aroma molecules), natural extracts, botanical waxes, and/or essential oils. You may find that scented soaps, particularly those that are said to be fragranced with only natural ingredients, are more expensive. This is due to the fact that a lot of the concentrated fragrance material needs to be used so that the scent survives the saponification reaction and is detectable in the final product after the curing stage (which usually lasts for between 4 to 6 weeks).
Just how much is ‘a lot’?
Well, one kilogram of soap requires around forty grams of concentrated fragrance material. Some oils, such as orange peel essential oil, are even weaker and are often ‘folded’, a process in which they are concentrated to make them more intense. Five- or even ten-fold oils are commonly used in soapmaking. If the price you’re paying seems a little exorbitant in relation to what you might have been expecting, the price of the raw fragrance concentrate might be one reason why.
Cold process soap for nourishing your skin
If your interest in cold process soap has been piqued after reading about its benefits, you might be interested in our Black Paint Soap. Black Paint’s cold process soap is made with a moisturising yet well-lathering combination of botanical oils such as sweet almond, olive, and coconut oil.
This soap also contains gentle, skin-friendly natural ingredients such as:
- Purifying Kishu Binchotan charcoal
- Soothing honey and green tea leaf powder
- Essential oils such as lavender
- Luxurious oils skincare oils like avocado and borage seed oil
It takes three to six months to produce a single bar of soap. This handmade cold process soap contains no harsh chemicals or artificial dyes and preservatives, making it a cut above regular detergent-like soap bars.
Don’t settle for less! Your skin will thank you for it.
There is no one-size-fits-all attitude when it comes to finding the right soap for you. The handmade cold process method of soapmaking allows makers and, in turn, consumers, to create and experience a perfect bar of soap for a particular skin type or skin concern.
As cold process soap, at its core, requires only three ingredients, no harsh surfactants, synthetic fragrances, or preservatives need to be added. Both dyes and fragrances for these soaps can be naturally-derived. Though cold process handmade soap generally costs more than commercial detergent bars, this is because of the sheer difference in the ingredients that go into both, and the different results that you get from them.
If you want a gentle cleanser made with natural ingredients, you will definitely not regret giving handmade cold processed soaps a try.
So, will you be giving ‘cold’ products a shot?
Now you have read a little bit more about the definitions of these two ‘cold’ techniques – cold-pressing and cold processing, and how they differ from other methods that are commonly used to make the same products.
The next time you see these terms being thrown around when you’re out shopping, not only will you know what they mean and the processes that they refer to, but you just might be motivated to try some of these products out after coming to know about the benefits of these ‘cold’ techniques!