Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Handmade Soap!

I am going to be trying my hand at soap making!  
Handmade soap is far superior than any traditional store bought soap.  The biggest difference is in the amount of synthetic ingredients.  Handmade soap has far less synthetic ingredients.  Handmade soap also contains more natural ingredients and are therefore gentler on skin as well as the environment.  

Its ingredients can be changed to suit you own personal needs and preferences.  With store bought soap you are limited to what is on the shelf.  With handmade soap you can be sure to eliminate any ingredients that may irritate your skin and add any colourants, scents, oils and conditioners you desire!  

Now, there are a few (I use the term loosely) "negatives" with handmade soaps.  Now with no chemicals added, handmade soap tends to spoil faster (no chemical preservatives) and produce less lather (with added chemicals) than store bought.  For me, this is not a negative.  I am ok with less chemicals in my soap even if it means having to use it within the year it was made and being sure to rinse thoroughly.  With handmade soap comes a lotion like feel as well as being less drying than the store bought soaps.  
Benefits of Handmade Soap:
Handmade soap retains all of the glycerine which is produced as a by product of the soap making process. Glycerine is widely used in the cosmetics industry and is frequently removed by the large manufacturers of commercial soap. Glycerine is a natural moisturizing agent and accounts for many of the benefits of handmade soap.
Most of the handmade soap contain natural vegetable oils.  These oils are more expensive than those used by the large commercial manufacturers and result in a superior texture, moisturizing properties and cleaning ability.

Handmade soap can also be changed to suit your personal needs and preferences.  You can eliminate what irritates your skin and add whatever oils, colourants, scents and conditioners you desire; with store bought soap you are limited to what is on the shelf.  
Chemicals, detergents, degreasers and the like are absent from homemade soaps. While these compounds will clean your skin, they also remove the natural oils and dry the skin.

To illustrate some of the advantages of handcrafted soap over mass produced commercial soaps, lets take a look at two store bough soaps  “Dove” and 'Lever 2000'. Like all store bought products there is an ingredient list.  The ingredients are always listed in order by the quantity of that ingredient in the product, with the largest quantity listed first.

Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, microcrystalline wax, Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, olefin sulfonate ,Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891).

Lever 2000:
Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium cocoate, water, sodium isethionate, stearic acid, coconut fatty acid, fragrance, titanium dioxide, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium etidronate, BHT, FD & C blue no. 1, D&C red no. 33.

Notice that sodium tallowate is listed first in both of these soaps.  Tallow has been used in soap making for thousands of years.  This compound is a natural result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with beef tallow.  It is considered by some to clog pores, cause blackheads, and increase eczema for those individuals with sensitive skin.  The attractiveness of tallow for mass producing soap is that it processes quickly, produces a hard bar of soap, is cheap and plentiful.  Pioneers on the American frontier had few, or no, alternatives to the use of animal fats for making soap .  Today, there are many vegetable oils which are better alternatives.

Sodium cocoate is listed in both sets of ingredients.  Sodium cocoate is the result of combining coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).  Coconut oil is a main ingredient in many quality soaps. Sodium palm kernalate is listed next.  This soap compound results from the combination of palm kernel oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).  This is an excellent soap compound; white in colour, very hard, and excellent lather.  Although Palm oil contributes to the destruction of the rainforest.

Stearic Acid is listed in both sets of ingredients.  Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid usually derived
from tallow or lard and sometimes palm oil.  The use of stearic acid can contribute to a harder, more long-lasting bar of soap.

Titanium dioxide is a neutral, very white powder used in combination with other colorants. It is not considered to be harmful.

If the list stopped there there would be no major complain about store bought soap, but it doesn't; it continues...
Now lets take a look at the other ingredients:
Tetrasodium EDTA - Synthetic preservative - can be irritating to the eyes/mucous membranes.

Sodium cocoyl isethionate - synthetic detergent. Technically, an anionic surfactant, meaning it reduces
surface tension, making water 'wetter'.

Sodium isethionate - synthetic detergent. Technically, a moisture absorber, surfactant and anti-static agent.

Trisodium etidronate - A preservative. Possible irritant.

BHT - (butylhydroxytoluene) Synthetic antioxidant to keep oils in formula from going rancid. When ingested, implicated in tumour formation and liver enlargement in rodent tests. Sometimes used as a food preservative.

Disodium phosphate - Buffering agent, used to adjust pH.

Sodium Laurdyl - cheap foamer used in the auto industry to clean car motors.

Microcrystalline Wax - A type of wax from petroleum products used to harden soap.

Etidronate - chelating agent used to soften water and soap to prevent soap scum. Aggravates skin problems, particularly eczema. (I'd rather clean soap scum!)

Olefin Sulfonate - Man made plastic like chemical used as a hardener.  Known to cause birth defects and reproduction/ fertility

Fragrance - far too many possible ingredients to list. Here is a helpful link.
Now we can take a look at some common Handmade Soap ingredients:
Coconut Oil - Great for moisturizing and produces a good thick lather even in cold water!

Olive Oil - very good moisturizer because it attracts external moisture and holds it close to the skin. It forms a breathable film to prevent loss of inner moisture.

Canola oil - Contributes protein and moisturizing qualities.

Cocoa Butter - lays down a protective layer that holds moisture to the skin making it a great skin softener.

Neem Oil - great oil that is used to treat dandruff, oily skin, and skin diseases such as scabies. Great mosquito repellent!!

Castor Oil - a vegetable oil from the castor bean
Acts as humectants by attracting and retaining moisture to the skin. Great for shampoo and any skin care.

Shea Butter - also known as African karite butter it is an awesome moisturizer. Helps to heal cracked, dry feet and leaves the skin soft and supple.

Grapeseed Oil - loaded with anti-oxidants and possessing regenerative and reconstructive qualities makes this a great oil for aging skin.

Avocado Oil - contains protein, amino acids, and large amounts of vitamin A, D, and E. They not only moisturize but also heal. They enable the Avocado Oil to regenerate cells, soften tissue and heal scaly skin and scalp.Great for aging and sensitive skin.

Cinnamon - cooking spice that adds a dark, earthy brown colour as well as some fragrance

Annatto Seed - imparts a yellow-orange colour

Turmeric - cooking spice that adds a yellow colour.

Paprika - cooking spice which adds a peachy pink colour.

Alkanet - a root which produces shades of pink, blue and purple depending o ampount used as weell as other ingredients.

Floral: geranium, lavender, lilac, rose, etc.

Citrus: grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, etc.

Aromatherapy: lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, etc.

Medicinal: tea tree, rose geranium, etc.

Earthy: atlas cedarwood, balsam, juniper berry, sandalwood, etc.

Seasonal: pine, spruce, etc.

aloe vera, cinnamon, lemon oil, tea tree oil, wheat germ, calendula, lavender, oatmeal, vitamin E coconut milk, etc.

Conclusion: store bought soap = chemicals, handmade soap = natural.

Now decide for yourself as to what you would rather use on your body.  I choose natural handmade soap!  I am thinking it will not only be better for our skin but also for our wallets... plus it should be loads of fun to make!

references: Island Soap and ehow

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