Saturday, October 20, 2012

Soap Lessons

There's a lot to know about soap, especially commercial soaps that you find on most market shelves. When we sell our soap at festivals and to local customers it's a bit awkward and time consuming to explain what makes our soaps different and why we really believe in the old fashioned method of cold process soap as opposed to buying a cheaper, factory made commercial bar. After all, words like sodium lauryl sulphate, stearic acid, polysorbate 60 and polyethylene glycol don't tend to hold one's attention for long. We often summarize all of this by calling our soap "natural", but I've read plenty of product labels with the word natural on them that are far from such. Perhaps the worst part of it all is that soap manufacturers are not required to test the safety of their products, nor list all the ingredients they contain.

People don't often realize how much their skin does on a daily basis, especially how much it can absorb into the bloodstream from the environment. This is especially troubling once you begin to learn just what is in most household and personal products that people use on a daily basis throughout their lives. The skin can even absorb essential fatty acids and vitamins from soap, but this also means that it can absorb some harmful chemicals found in synthetic soaps.

When people purchase soap today, it's often a misnomer, instead they are usually purchasing a detergent. Detergents are synthetic and before they even reach your skin they have already caused damage by releasing industrial waste in streams and creating by-products that aren't easily broken down in nature. Common detergents appear on labels as sodium tallowate, sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate and sodium cocoate.
The most harmful chemicals in commercial soaps are the preservatives, fragrances and dyes. Paraben is a common preservative that has come under fire in recent years. A study of breast tumors found that every sample studied contained parabens. Many fragrances are actually neurotoxins and carcinogenic. Dyes that are considered coal-tar dyes are known carcinogens and include names such as,  FD & C Blue 1, 2, and FD & C Green 3, and titanium dioxide.

Commercial bars rely on cheaper ingredients and harsh chemicals that preserve shelf life. While the financial cost of buying a commercial soap is cheaper, the health and environmental damage is much more expensive. Our soaps are made with our own hands, we don't produce any harmful waste, our ingredients are natural and retain all of their nourishing and beneficial qualities because they are minimally processed and we don't use  anything that is carcinogenic, irritating or poisonous.

Here's a list of what we put in our soap:

Coconut oil, olive oil, sustainable palm oil, almond oil, castor oil, shea butter,  and essential oils (for scent). Some bars also contain herbs, spices and natural clays for color (dried rosemary, lavender buds, bentonite clay, turmeric, cinnamon, etc.)

Here's a list of what is in a well known brand of soap:

Sodium Cocoyl Isothionate, Paraffin, Sodium Cocogylceryl Ether Sulfonate, Glycerin, Water, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Isothionate, Magnesium Cocoate, Coconut Fatty Acids, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Sulfate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Laurate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Laurate, EDTA, Polyethylene Glycol, Titanium Dioxide

As more and more stories come out about contaminants and toxins in everyday items, it's becoming increasingly important to research and understand exactly what you are exposing yourself to. It's obvious that most large corporations and manufacturers do not hold safety over profit. I've included some resources below that contain information about toxins in common products and suggestions for natural alternatives.