Our Products

Like fine tea, coffee and chocolate ‘real’ handmade soap is one of life’s affordable luxuries!

The ‘Why’

I have always argued that one can,  and should,  have luxury and a little sensory indulgence in the everyday items that are a part our lives.  I love Nature, and I love Science. I marry them with the conviction that products which touch our skin, our loved ones and our environment should be carefully researched and thoughtfully sourced and of the very highest quality. Apart from its straightforward ‘goodness’, a bar of our handmade, artisan soap is a piece of ‘practical’ art you can get wet and rub all over yourself everyday (try that with a Matisse)!!

In the end, the ‘proof is in the pudding’! Seek out a quality artisan soap maker near you (or of course you can try our soaps too) and use an entire bar of their handcrafted soap! You will become a believer (even a proselytiser maybe).

The ‘What’

All our soaps and goodies are made right here in Yellowknife, and we  seek out the finest quality ingredients from as close to home as is reasonable.  Every single artisan soap is formulated in small batches (oftentimes, very small batches) and from scratch with an entirely unique recipe depending on the ‘style’ or ‘purpose’ of  the bar we are looking to create (sometimes playful,  or earthy,  or rich,  or simple…). The same goes for all our body products.

All our products are thoroughly tested on hairy husbands, our rambunctious children, ourselves and our friends and relatives willing to loan their bodies for freebies! We of course do not test on animals. That is just wrong. In fact, our products intended for animals are first tested on humans!

The ‘How’

True ‘soap’ is the product of the chemical reaction (named ‘saponification’) between fats and oils and an alkaline solution. A glorious by-product of  this reaction is glycerine which, in handmade artisan soap processing, remains in the finished product and contributes greatly to the feel and gentleness of the resulting soap.

Our batches are ‘cold-processed,’ which requires the exact calculation of each oil’s ‘saponification value’ in order to assure the correct amount of hydroxide is used. We like to leave just the right amount of unreacted fat in the soap to ensure a rich and gentle recipe. Our foundation oils for soap include coconut, palm kernal, olive, lard, and castor oils in varying ratios and combinations. Then we balance these with additional oils such as rice bran, soya bean, sweet almond, apricot kernal, jojoba, grapeseed, and butters like cocoa, shea and mango and create an entirely new recipe for each and every soap. We use sodium hydroxide as an alkali in our bars. This is most often mixed (very carefully with safety gear of course) with pure water or milk  (like fresh goat milk, buttermilk or coconut) or more exotic fluids like beer! Into this caustic solution we often dissolve tufts of raw tussah silk. We love the contribution of the silk protein to soap.

From here, as many or as few additives as desired are added.  Botanicals, colours, micas, clays, fruit and vegetable purees, exfolients, and of course fragrances and essential oils create soaps styles as complex and interesting and scrumptious as the people who love them!

After an initial cure in the mould, the soap is cut and left to cure for several weeks (we like at least a 4 week cure) to reach it’s peak quality and hardness.

By the way, all labels and graphics are also created in house (another of our hobbies).

I could go on and on about soap (and will if I get you cornered).  If you want to understand a little more in depth, this wikipedia entry is as good as any place to start. Or contact us!

Kristen Gagnon

Owner/Crafter

Raw North Soap Company