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Health Blog

Natural Handcrafted Soaps

  You might think that soap is soap and it doesn’t matter what kind you use, if it all gets you clean.  But if you have any skin issues you may have discovered this really isn’t the case. I have had reactions to soaps since I was a child.  As soon as I began using handcrafted soaps I discovered it was actually the soaps that I had been using that was the problem. And when I looked at the ingredients in most commercial soaps I began to understand why.
     First let’s start with how soap is made. All soaps are made from oils and fats that react with sodium hydroxide (lye). These are a combination of solid fats like coconut oil, palm oil, and oils like olive oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil. In some commercial soaps they also use animal fat (sodium tallowate), usually from rendered beef fat.
I guess I should be thankful it was beef fat and not the fat from another animal - does  anyone remember the movie Fight Club? Scary thought!  Okay back to the process of how soap is made…. as these fats react with the lye they begin to saponify and thicken like pudding. This reaction of fats, oils, and lye mixing, is what makes soap.  The fats used in soap making contain glycerin as part of their chemical makeup (both animal and vegetable fats contain from 7% - 13% glycerin). Glycerin is highly "hygroscopic" which means that it absorbs water from the air. A lot of commercial soaps take the glycerin out of the soap. I’m not sure why they do this. The only thing I can think of is that by removing the glycerin they are possibly creating a harder soap with a longer shelf life because it doesn’t attract moisture and it won’t dissolve in water as quickly.  But by taking the glycerin out of the soap it makes it more drying to skin. Add that to the chemicals, dyes, and perfumes that are often in commercial soaps and its no wonder my skin reacted with rashes, hives and dryness. 
     By sharp contrast natural handcrafted soaps contain natural oils like coconut, palm and safflower (no animal fats) the glycerin is left in making them more moisturizing, herbs, no artificial colorings, and pure essential oils. Natural oils are very moisturizing, have antioxidants and skin nourishing abilities. Once I made the switch to natural soaps my skin was no longer a dry itchy mess and I discovered something else, my skin stopped breaking out as well. That could be attributed to the lack of animal fat. This ingredient, because of its high fat content, has been known to cause eczema and blackheads. Not exactly the combination for healthy skin that most of us are seeking. Sodium Tallowate (or animal fat) that is often used in commercial soaps can also be found in crayons, wax paper, paints, and more. Considering where else this specific ingredient is used makes it one that you probably don’t want to use on your face and body.
     Soon after I started using handcrafted natural soaps I decided to make my own. This would allow me the opportunity to create soaps for specific skin types. I combine specific herbs, clays, and essential oils to create handcrafted soaps that are both soothing and helpful to specific skin issues. The oils used are coconut oil, palm oil, and safflower oil.  No harsh chemicals, artificial colorants, fragrances, or animal fats!  I love creating new soaps and trying out different combinations to produce different results. If you think you skin would be happier with a natural handcrafted soap please visit our product page to see what we have to offer. In an effort to be more environmentally friendly I package all of our soaps in a biodegradable paper made from craftspeople in Nepal. Not only is it biodegradable but it also contains 16 different herbs—so plant the paper and create your own herb garden! Both your skin and the earth will be happier for it.

1 Comment to Natural Handcrafted Soaps:

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Stephanie on Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:34 PM
Great post! The natural oils made all the difference! Many commercial 'soaps' aren't even true soaps, they are 'cleansing bars' made up of surfactants or detergents. I can never go back after trying handmade soaps with natural oils. Thanks.
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