Potash is used widely in different industries so what is potash is a common question asked by both soap makers and non soap makers. Potash is simply potassium an alkaline salt that can occurs naturally and is mined, or can be produced from plant ashes. In soap making, you can only use potash to make liquid soaps or semi solid soaps like Ghana black soap.
There are different forms of potassium used for cooking, agriculture, water softening, soap making and many other activities. The most common different types of potassium for our industry are potassium hydroxide, potassium chloride and potassium carbonate(which are also used as animal feed, tenderise meat and leavening bread/ glass production),
If you have any experience of handling potassium hydroxide for soap making then it should be easy for you to handle or work with potash as they are essentially the same thing. Potash however is organic, and potassium hydroxide is refined and processed.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF POTASH – when you buy potash from us.
- The plant based potash used for making Ghana black soap is brown and looks like fine wood shavings. It and may start to form crystals around the edges in the container it is stored in when it is exposed to moisture. This doesn’t mean that it has lost it’s strength.
- Unlike caustic soda, it does burn instantly from touch but it leaves the soles of your fingers hardened, blistered and will crack if left in contact with hands for a prolong length of time. In Ghana, the young men that handle it actually scoop it with their bare hands(out of carelessness and because they complain about gloves causing their hands to sweat which gets uncomfortable).
- You can use it even if you are a newbie in soap making. You do not need specialist knowledge on handling it.
- Always keep vinegar near you when you are using potash. If you have a splatter directly on your skin, wash that body part thoroughly with cold water without rubbing the area. Gently pour some vinegar over the burnt spot and leave it to heal naturally.
- Potash does not go rancid, however, ensure that it is kept in an airtight container otherwise it will draw moisture from the environment and this will cause it to water down.
- When you mix potash with water, unlike NaOH, the temperature does not rise to rapidly. It remains warm and this can be tempting to let down your guard. Please follow regular precautions as you would with any other lye.
- You can master batch with potash just like any regular lye.
- You can add herbs and other additives to the soap you make with potash.
- Potash can actually be used to make liquid soaps, bar soaps and jelly soaps by adding NaOH of course for solid soaps.
- You can use all types of potassium salts to saponify lipids.