Know Your Soaps

Here are some interesting facts about the soaps you buy in the store. I hope you find this important information. A educated consumer is our best customer :-)

Once in awhile you see a soap like product that does have an add natural ingredients, but they are added in such small quantites to make the consumer think they are buying a wonderful product. But in reality they do not add enough to make a difference, they only add just enough of the product to legally put it on the label, and the product still contains an extreme high percent of synthetic products. A good example of this is shea butter.

If you need further proof of this here is the list of ingredients that are found in a bar of the brand name “Dove”® beauty bar. A product that most people believe to be mild and gentle to the skin. Gentle enough to be used by people of all ages from babies to the elderly. In fact when my middle child was born, this is the soap that that particular hospital used on the babies in the newborn nursery.

Next to each ingredient is a description of what that ingredient is or what it does.


sodium cocoyl isethionate ~ (synthetic detergent)

Stearic acid ~ (hardener)

Sodium tallowate ~ (sodium salt of animal fat)


Sodium isethionate ~ (detergent/emulsifying agent)

Coconut acid ~ (the sodium salt of coconut oil)

Sodium stearate ~ (emulsifier, also used as a cheap stabilizer in plastics) Also can be found in melt and pour

Sodium dodecylbenzonesulfonate ~ (synthetic detergent, skin irritant)

Sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernalate ~ (sodium salts of coconut or palm kernel oils)

Fragrance ~ (synthetic scent, potential allergen, common skin irritant)

Sodium chloride ~ (table salt used as a thickener)

Titanium dioxide ~ (whitener, also used in house paint)

Trisodium EDTA ~ (stabilizer, water softener, skin irritant)

Trisodium etidronate ~ (preservative, a chemical that is used in soaps to prevent soap scum)

BHT ~ (preservative, common skin irritant)


Here is one thing to remember about the ingredient 'sodium tallowate'. It is a hard fat that is obtained from parts of the bodies of cattle, sheep, or horses, and contributes no beneficial qualities to the skin. But it is cheap which is why it's used.

Another point to remember is that many commercial soaps include the ingredient 'sodium lauryl sulfate' which is used because it's a cheap product to produce foam/lather in the product even through it's harsh on the skin. Which is not to be confused with 'sodium lauryl sulfoacetate' which produces foam/lather and is used by many crafters but it's also milder on the skin and is phosphate free and non-toxic. Many crafters use it to enhance bubble baths, make dry bubble baths and other bath products. So now ask yourself why would these big companies need to add a product that would add foam/lather to their soap unless it didn't produce this naturally because of the chemicals and detergents that they are using. One key point about these foaming products to remember is that anything that foams/lathers is either real soap or it's a synthetic detergent.

On a bar of dial soap i found the ingredient 'methyl ether' found. Did you know that this product is on the EPA, federal regulatory program lists for regulated toxic, explosive or flammable substance (clean air act). And on it's material safety data sheet it's noted as being highly flammable.

On a bar of caress soap (which use to be my personal favorite soap) i found propylene glycol. This is taken from the material safety data sheet on this chemical “May be harmful by ingestion, inhalation or through skin contact. May cause skin or eye irritation.”

While looking on a bar of Lever 2000 I noticed that I contained mineral oil which is a petroleum product. It's also known that it is not good for the skin and it actually clog skin pores and doesn't allow the skin to breath. But many companies use it because it's cheap. (Not just in soap but many other bath products so read labels!) Baby oil as we know it, is actually just scented mineral oil, and yet we use it on babies..........

Now after going through that list are you sure you still want to use these products on your skin? Especially when you compare that list of ingredients those that are in handmade soap. To which I'll get into more later when I talk about handmade soap. Even though the range of oils and liquids used in handmade soap can vary greatly it all boils down to three things that make up soap. You need a combination of oils, lye and a liquid to make soap. That's it.

But you will also notice that the products that you call soap are not made with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye, caustic soda and sodium hydrate. Instead they depend on other chemicals to produce their product.

Glycerin soaps are made by commercial companies as well as crafters who use melt and pour methods. I myself have and still on occasion use melt and pour and find nothing wrong with the crafters who choose this method of making soaps. It is very convenient and easy to use and I have seen very creative and artistic melt and pour soapers. But I myself prefer to use soaps made from scratch if using it on a long term basis.

Glycerin soap can be opaque, colored or clear. Many crafters use glycerin soap to insert different shapes of soap or embed small toys in the soap. The reason why glycerin soap is so popular is because the colors that you can add to them make them bright and fun. The crafting industry has made this soap so popular because it's quick, easy, fun and safe to use.

But make no mistake this product isn't any better than the store bought soaps themselves. All you need to do is read the list of ingredients to prove this to yourself.

The companies who make these products must also add a solvent that allows the product to be easily remelted and poured into a mold to shape it. Allowing the crafter to add different colors and fragrances. Then many try to fool people into thinking they are buying a product that is natural, handmade and good for their skin. And nothing could be further from the truth. Or they are just not educated in the product they are using or simply don't care.

But did you know that the reason why glycerin soap is clear is because they need to add alcohol, glycerin, and even sugar to do this. And please do remember that alcohol does dry your skin out even further. So it defeats the purpose of adding that extra glycerin while making this product.

So glycerin soap falls into the same category as the other melt and pour soaps products. They are made with the same ingredients as the products that we call soap and are bought in stores as I described above. None of which are good for the skin, body or the environment. I am not knocking melt and pour but there has to be something into for you to reuse it and melt it over and over again.

Another common ingredient in melt and pour bases is propylene glycol which is antifreeze but they justify it's use by saying it is a “humectant, used to retain moisture”. Are you sure you want this used topically on your skin or on the skin of your children. Personally that scares the bee-jeebies out of me, thinking that is being used on kids skin since many melt and pour soaps are directed towards kids. Just to remind you that if liquid antifreeze is drank it is deadly.

Another common ingredient is triethanolamine also known as TEA which is used to help adjust the pH of the product. But on it's hazardous materials sheet it's also known as a irritant. I'll quote this quote as found on wikipedia about TEA “As with any amines, it may have the potential to create nitrosamines, but with the low concentrations used in cosmetic products the chances of that happening is very slim and it is further theorized that nitrosamines (cancer causing agents) cannot penetrate the skin.”

So are you still convinced that these are products are ok to use and that you want to use them knowing this new information. Be aware of the ingredients list and educate yourself about the products that you are using.

You may also ask yourself why does it matter which soap that you use. Just think about this for a moment. The largest organ of your body is your skin. And it's your body's defense mechanism against outside impurities, and it maintains proper body temperature. You skin is also permeable and absorbs everything you put on it. Since soap bought in stores as well as glycerin and melt and pour soaps contain many ingredients that are less than desirable and these ingredients are absorbed into your skin every time you use them. So you need to ask yourself what you value.

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