What is Soap??? A behind-the-scenes look at the truth!

Posted by Allison Ritto Almstedt on

So I never really thought much about soap most of my life and chances are, neither have you. But now, you’re washing your hands all the time like you’re supposed to and maybe they’re all dry and cracked no matter what you do. I’ve been there. Now I know better. 

But I've used cheap bar soap, organic and natural body wash, I even thought I cleaned up my body and face products I'm constantly learning and trying. Mostly I had to lather my supposedly dry skin in lotion. Let me get on my soapbox to say: I DON'T USE LOTION ANYMORE! Sorry for the all caps, but California is a desert and I get cranky when it's dry, which is always.

Now, occasionally I use my RAD bar on my face and if I break out in a rash like my eczema. I never even used artisan-style bar soap until I started making my own. I know some people think bar soap is inconvenient and I used to be one of them. Especially with kids, but mine are 1 and 4 and have taken to using my soaps, especially the fun ones, perfectly well! 

You also may wonder if you’re reading, why you should buy a soap like mine which costs more than whatever you grab at the grocery store on your way out the door without a thought. 

So this post will explain three important things about type of soap I make and use every day and what you’ve probably used forever. 

I am not exaggerating when I say that what I learned in researching this BLEW MY MIND. 

That’s not clickbait or bullshit. 

I'll tell you what is mass produced soap, how is mine different and what I really think you should know about this whole issue.

But firstWhat is soap? 

  • Oil, lye water. Lye is super alkaline, opposite of an acid, but can burn your skin. It was made in 500 bce – someone maybe dropped some cooking fat and water over old ashes and went huh, what’s this? A weird 200 degree reaction happening and now the liquids are solid! Something like that. 
  • So what is most mass produced soap?
  • Here's the kicker- it's not really soap. Chemists call soap bars you’re used to for about a dollar as “syndet bars” a mashup of "synthetic detergent"
  • Read ingredients- ew, sodium tallowate is animal renderings, not vegan! 
  • No where on the package does it say “soap” it’s a “beauty bar” or “cleansing moisture bar” 
  • Don’t take my word for it all; of this is readily available online from multiple sources. If you use body wash, it’s literally the same ingredients melted into water, with the added issue of plastic and higher carbon footprint to make and ship! Yipee! 
  • The real annoying thing is that this big company (with a bird on their bar) claims “soap is drying” so let me explain why that is untrue and just a marketing ploy. The audacity! 

What is in MY soap and why it’s not “drying” 

Mix oils and lye and you'll get soap instantly, it will set up in a few days, then dry for 2 months or more to cure and be ready to use.

I use expensive oils- olive, palm, coconut, shea, cocoa butter, castor oil, and avocado. The butters, shea and cocoa, add moisture to your skin but cost 4-5 times per ounce than the oils. Many soapers skip the butters and just use oil.

Detergents are synthetic and cheaper- that's not to knock all synthetics because sometimes they are the better choice than an unsustainable plant or animal product but that’s a different post.

The ratio of oils or recipe changes how the soap works and feels. Glycerin is left behind in my soap which protects skin like a barrier to moisture loss but is mechanically removed from most soap then added into lotion so you’ll buy something else! 

But the ultimate recipe I have created from scratch after much researching and (luckily limited error) trial and error is that 5% of the oils are left free floating. That’s called superfat and quality soapmakers balance their recipe so it’s still foamy, with good lather and cleansing removing dirt and killing germs and yes, virusesand also replaces any oils on the skin that could be unbalanced after washing or bathing. 

So, those big companies are kinda misleading you: soap does not strip your skin. It’s all over their website, please make them stop lying! 

Lastly, what really matters is price and quality, and the value for your buck. The price is higher but just know that this bar lasts much longer than your standard dollar stays firm if stored away from standing water.

But you’re paying for the ingredients and the care that went into it. 

Far be it from me to knock anyone who cant afford to buy an $8 bar of soap because some people have to choose food.  

It's not their fault, I blame the companies making these mediocre products, not the consumer. 

And sadly, it’s pretty clear how they save money and keep product costs low. 

It's an open secret that most of the American corporations making the products like these “syndet bars” or fake soap rely on paying inmates to make their products. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then I don’t even know where to start, but if you’d rather support a small artisan or family run company to make a local product, and you have the means to do so, really think about who is making the products you use on your body every day, versus the corporations running prisons and the other corporations using incarcerated people’s laborThe products that the inmates themselves have to buy, like a $1.50 bar of soap, which they pay for out of the wages they earn, sometimes a few dollars a week. Think about that the next time you’re singing in the shower. 


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →