Synthetic Scents– Soaps may contain fragrances which are synthetic compounds that can lead to drying out or irritation of your skin.
Triethanolamine – is an ingredient common to branded soaps. This is a possible human carcinogen that is linked to other health problems. When this ingredient is present, three other chemicals also go along with this: sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, TEA-stearate and tocopherol. All these do not exempt from causing mild to serious health problems.
PEG-6 and sodium PCA – These chemicals are usually found in cleansing bar soaps, they may contain harmful impurities that are linked with cancer to other health problems. PEG-6, in particular is known to be linked to breast cancer.
Chemical surfactants–Sodium lauryl sulfate is usually added to increase the lather quality. According to, The Journal of The American College of Toxicology (ACT) in 1983, concentrations of sodium lauryl of as low as 0.5% could cause irritation. Here’s something to disturb you: Studies have shown that numerous soaps have concentrations of up to 30%. The ACT has reported this to be highly irritating and dangerous.
Propylene Glycol – a common ingredient in soaps, is a penetration enhancer. All these previously mentioned chemicals can be further activated, stimulated and enhanced by propylene glycol. This chemical poses risks of other health concerns.
Triclosan – a chemical used for its antibacterial properties, is an ingredient in many detergents, dish-washing liquids, soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, anti-microbial creams, various toothpastes. However, the safety of triclosan has been questioned in regard to environmental and human health. While the companies that manufacture products containing this chemical claim that it is safe, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it as a pesticide. The chemical formulation and molecular structure of this compound are similar to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth, relating it to dioxins and PCBs. The EPA gives triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk.
All you need is a few types of vegetable oils, (or animal fats if you choose), water, and lye (caustic soda). Before anyone comments, yes I realise that it takes petroleum to harvest the plants that produce the oils, and if not sourced locally they have high food miles, however, you can source most from local producers if needs be, and we have a readily available source of olive oil in our region. The lye can also be produced from wood ash. Please, if using palm oil, purchase it from sustainable sources, and not the stuff they are burning down rainforests to plant.
If you want to see how it is made, I produced a YouTube video some time back which is embedded below.
It is an easy process, that only takes about 30 minutes.
Here is some soap that Kim and I made on Sunday from olive, sunflower, rice bran, and organic coconut oils. My recipe can be found at this post: Our Soap Recipe.
Here are the wooden moulds that we use. Kim lines them with cling wrap so that the liquid doesn’t leak out when poured into the mould.
The soap can be defrocked on about day two or three depending on if it has gone hard enough to keep its shape.
Once the cling wrap is removed, the soap can be cut into bars. Please note that the soap is still quite alkaline at this stage, so wear protective gloves as a precaution.
This one kilogram (2.2lbs) block is called Sandalwood and Musk. We only use essential oils as the fragrance in minute quantities.
The soap is still quite soft, so it is easy to cut into bars.
Here is the finished product for this block. 10 bars in total.
This block was made by splitting the liquid into two batches and adding two separate colours, then combining the batch in the mould. You actually get three colours if you only lightly mix the primary colour through the liquid soap before it sets.
This is the finished product for Berry. The two-kilogram block was cut into 24 bars.
The third block was Ocean fragrance, and again we divided the batch in two and only coloured one half. Once combined it looks like waves in the ocean.
Again, this made 24 bars of soap.
The next part of the process is curing the soap. For four weeks you need to turn each bar once daily. We have set up a trestle table in the front room and placed the bars on wire racks so they don’t stick to it. As the water evaporates and the lye further reacts with the oils, the bars harden and continue to do so over time. As with all soaps, don’t get it in your eyes, it stings!
The result is a nice, safe cleanser to wash yourself and your family with. Much better than that cocktail of chemicals they try and flog to us as soap!