Gabhran Creek Nigerians

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Not all soaps are the same!  Know what you are buying!   By Prairie-Creations

While buying soap isn't a new concept it is one that does require a little education. Before I had reason to research this topic, chances are you had the same thoughts as I did and thought that soap was soap and what I bought in the stores was soap and that there was nothing wrong with the product that I was buying.


But little did I know there was so much to learn about the simple topic of soap. But it wasn't until I had used my first bar of real handmade soap that I was convinced. I couldn't believe how much cleaner my skin felt, how much softer my skin was. Plus ground in dirt simply dissolved without the need to use a lot of elbow grease.


What I plan on covering on this page is some general information about what most people call “soap” and is purchased in stores. Soaps such as dial, caress, oil of olay, lever 2000, zest and your other popular brands, etc....... I am also going to cover the melt and pour soaps and glycerin soaps that many crafters use. As well as hand milled soap and rebatching. And last but not least I'm going to cover soap that is truly handmade.

 

I know this page will contain a lot of information and I hope that you will find it helpful so you can make an informed purchase. . Or maybe you will learn a thing or two about the different products available and what makes them so different.

First i will cover the soaps that we purchase in stores, there are many brands to choose from. While we all call them soap, it really isn't soap at all. And I will tell you why.


It was about 1916 when the first synthetic detergent was developed in Germany because of a shortage of the necessary fats that were needed to make soap. In this day and age we still call them detergents but they are really synthetic non-soap product that are made from petroleum distillates that is used for cleaning and washing along with other various chemicals and other raw materials. It was during the 1930's when the household detergent production started becoming more popular in the United States but didn't really take off until after World War II. Because during this time the fats and oils were not available to make soaps but also the military needed to find a product that would work in both cold water and sea water. By 1953 detergents had pretty much replaced all soap-based products. Only now in our modern times they have invented new and different detergents and chemicals to do specific cleaning jobs.

Soap as we know it today is made up of chemicals, detergents and additives. But did you also know that these big companies remove the glycerin that is produced naturally and sell it as a by-product which further reduces the quality of their soap product. Sadly the glycerin has a higher value to them than the soap product they are producing. So it's removed and sold off to other cosmetic companies or to be used in other products that that company makes.


Once in awhile you see a soap like product that does have an add natural ingredients, but they are added in such small quanties to make the consumer think they are buying a wonderful product. But in reality they do not add enough to make a difference, they only add just enough of the product to legally put it on the label, and the product still contains an extreme high percent of synthetic products. A good example of this is shea butter.


If you need further proof of this here is the list of ingredients that are found in a bar of the brand name “Dove”® beauty bar. A product that most people believe to be mild and gentle to the skin. Gentle enough to be used by people of all ages from babies to the elderly. In fact when my middle child was born, this is the soap that that particular hospital used on the babies in the newborn nursery.


Next to each ingredient is a description of what that ingredient is or what it does.


Dove®

sodium cocoyl isethionate ~ (synthetic detergent)

Stearic acid ~ (hardener)

Sodium tallowate ~ (sodium salt of animal fat)

Water

Sodium isethionate ~ (detergent/emulsifying agent)

Coconut acid ~ (the sodium salt of coconut oil)

Sodium stearate ~ (emulsifier, also used as a cheap stabilizer in plastics)

Sodium dodecylbenzonesulfonate ~ (synthetic detergent, skin irritant)

Sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernalate ~ (sodium salts of coconut or palm kernel oils)

Fragrance ~ (synthetic scent, potential allergen, common skin irritant)

Sodium chloride ~ (table salt used as a thickener)

Titanium dioxide ~ (whitener, also used in house paint)

Trisodium EDTA ~ (stabilizer, water softener, skin irritant)

Trisodium etidronate ~ (preservative, a chemical that is used in soaps to prevent soap scum)

BHT ~ (preservative, common skin irritant)


Here is one thing to remember about the ingredient 'sodium tallowate'. It is a hard fat that is obtained from parts of the bodies of cattle, sheep, or horses, and contributes no beneficial qualities to the skin. But it is cheap which is why it's used.


Another point to remember is that many commercial soaps include the ingredient 'sodium lauryl sulfate' which is used because it's a cheap product to produce foam/lather in the product even through it's harsh on the skin. Which is not to be confused with 'sodium lauryl sulfoacetate' which produces foam/lather and is used by many crafters but it's also milder on the skin and is phosphate free and non-toxic. Many crafters use it to enhance bubble baths, make dry bubble baths and other bath products. So now ask yourself why would these big companies need to add a product that would add foam/lather to their soap unless it didn't produce this naturally because of the chemicals and detergents that they are using. One key point about these foaming products to remember is that anything that foams/lathers is either real soap or it's a synthetic detergent.


Because these soaps are made with synthetic ingredients they also require a preservative to keep them from spoiling. So you may want to take that into consideration as well.


While on a shopping trip to wal-mart I spent a few minutes looking at the labels on the different soaps and here is what I found from the few minutes that I spent looking.


On a bar of dial soap i found the ingredient 'methyl ether' found. Did you know that this product is on the EPA, federal regulatory program lists for regulated toxic, explosive or flammable substance (clean air act). And on it's material safety data sheet it's noted as being highly flammable.


On a bar of caress soap (which use to be my personal favorite soap) i found propylene glycol. This is taken from the material safety data sheet on this chemical “May be harmful by ingestion, inhalation or through skin contact. May cause skin or eye irritation.”


While looking on a bar of Lever 2000 I noticed that I contained mineral oil which is a petroleum product. It's also known that it is not good for the skin and it actually clog skin pores and doesn't allow the skin to breath. But many companies use it because it's cheap. (Not just in soap but many other bath products so read labels!) Baby oil as we know it, is actually just scented mineral oil, and yet we use it on babies..........


Now after going through that list are you sure you still want to use these products on your skin? Especially when you compare that list of ingredients those that are in handmade soap. To which I'll get into more later when I talk about handmade soap. Even though the range of oils and liquids used in handmade soap can vary greatly it all boils down to three things that make up soap. You need a combination of oils, lye and a liquid to make soap. That's it.


But you will also notice that the products that you call soap are not made with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye, caustic soda and sodium hydrate. Instead they depend on other chemicals to produce their product. But I'll touch more on that topic when i talk about hand made soap.


Many of these detergents, chemicals and additives are also known to be skin irritants. There are a lot of people can't use them because of the skin irritation and rashes that they get when they use these products. However people who use commercial soaps not including those that are to sensitive to use them, also find that it leaves their skin feeling dry, tight, itchy, sensitive and unclean.


If you buy these products please do take the time to read the label that has the list of ingredients on it. What you will find is a list of ingredients that the average person can't pronounce or even know what they are.


There is another branch of store soaps that you also need to think about. These are the ones that are labeled as antibacterial. These products actually kill off the good bacteria that live naturally on your body, and over-strip and over-dry your skin, leaving it cracked and vulnerable to the bad bacteria and germs. Doesn't sound so good after all does it.

Glycerin soaps are made by commercial companies as well as crafters who use melt and pour methods.


Glycerin soap can be opaque, colored or clear. Many crafters use glycerin soap to insert different shapes of soap or embed small toys in the soap. The reason why glycerin soap is so popular is because the colors that you can add to them make them bright and fun. The crafting industry has made this soap so popular because it's quick, easy, fun and safe to use.


But make no mistake this product isn't any better than the store bought soaps themselves. All you need to do is read the list of ingredients to prove this to yourself.


The companies who make these products must also add a solvent that allows the product to be easily remelted and poured into a mold to shape it. Allowing the crafter to add different colors and fragrances. Then many try to fool people into thinking they are buying a product that is natural, handmade and good for their skin. And nothing could be further from the truth. Or they are just not educated in the product they are using or simply don't care.


But did you know that the reason why glycerin soap is clear is because they need to add alcohol, glycerin, and even sugar to do this. And please do remember that alcohol does dry your skin out even further. So it defeats the purpose of adding that extra glycerin while making this product.

 

So glycerin soap falls into the same category as the other melt and pour soaps products. They are made with the same ingredients as the products that we call soap and are bought in stores as I described above. None of which are good for the skin, body or the environment.


Another common ingredient in melt and pour bases is propylene glycol.  Here is a quote on that topic. "A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage."  As a side note sometimes this is used in preservatives that are needed for other bath and body items.  However it's only one ingredient in that preservative and most preservatives are used at the rate of 1% or LESS. So very it's such a small amount that the benefits outwigh the risks in the dose that is used in because a preservative is required to prevent mold and bacteria from growing to keep the consumer safe.


Another common ingredient is triethanolamine also known as TEA which is used to help adjust the pH of the product. But on it's hazardous materials sheet it's also known as a irritant. I'll quote this quote as found on wikipedia about TEA “As with any amines, it may have the potential to create nitrosamines, but with the low concentrations used in cosmetic products the chances of that happening is very slim and it is further theorized that nitrosamines (cancer causing agents) cannot penetrate the skin.”


So are you still convinced that these are products are ok to use and that you want to use them knowing this new information. Be aware of the ingredients list and educate yourself about the products that you are using.

 

If your going to buy soap that claims it's handmade but does not include a description of how it's made or a list of it's ingredients be sure to ask the seller for this information. This is important to you so you can make an informed purchase and that your actually buying what you want to buy, not what they are making you think your buying. I know there are many sellers who use the term handmade with melt and pour soaps, leaving the buyer to think it's really handmade when the term they should be using is handcrafted.


Hand milled soap is often described two ways. It can be made with melt and pour soap as well as handmade soap. So it's important to read what the seller writes about the soap or to ask them which soap they started with. Some crafters use this term because it sounds better than saying they use melt and pour soap bases.


But essentially hand milled soap is made with some sort of soap base either be cold process soap (cured or un-cured) or melt and pour soap and it's melted down, with additional ingredients added. A liquid is added (milk or goats milk is the most common) along with other ingredients such as herbs, oatmeal, fragrance and anything else the creator feels like adding. And then it's poured into some type of mold to set and harden.


So just because it's given a natural sounding name or has a few natural ingredients added doesn't make a synthetic soap real. So read those labels carefully or ask the seller questions. Be informed about the product you want to buy so you aren't fooled into buying a product you don't want.


Rebatching soap is made with a handmade soap base. Either handmade soap that is cured or uncured. Liquid is added (milk or goats milk is the most common) and it's melted down and it may or may not have other ingredients such as herbs, oatmeal, fragrance added. And then the creator makes either cold processed soap or hot processed soap and eventually it's poured into some type of mold to set and harden.


Now onto my favorite subject, handmade soaps!!!


Now that you know what is in synthetic soap that we buy in stores as well as what is in glycerin soaps and melt and pour soaps I'm going to tell you what real soap is made of and why it's so different.


While the ingredients of soap can vary greatly depending on the maker and their specific recipe, they all must have three things the same. Soap must be made of a a specific combinations of oil, lye and a liquid.


There are many oils that can be used for making soap, both vegetable based oils and animal based oils. As well as many of the butters that are so popular now. Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter and a few other butters that are a little less known but that doesn't mean they aren't good for the skin. Then you can add any number of liquid and solid oils. From Canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, olive oil, soybean oil, lard, or vegetable shortening to the coconut oils, palm oils and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the oils that can be used in soap making.


One thing that it's important to remember with the oils used in soaps, is that they are not all equal. And you can't have to much of one and not enough of another. The results will be less than desirable, such as a soap that is soft in texture and the user won't feel as clean or a all lard soap will be harsh to the skin. (But an all lard soap makes a great laundry soap or a stain pre-treater.) Many of the oils have different properties that benefit the skin in different ways, which is why they are chosen for a recipe.


Then you have the liquid part of the recipe and these can vary as much as the oils to be used. Water is one of the most common liquids to be used. But goats milk is also popular, along with milks, creams, fruit and vegetable juices. For example one of the soaps I make uses tomato juice, because it makes a wonderful soap for the face and is awesome for oily skin or acne prone skin. It's all up to the creator which liquid they want to use.


But all these ingredients must be in balance with the lye that is added. Which is why each and every recipe must be run through what is called a lye calculator. This is a special calculator that is designed so the soaper can insert all the oils that are used. Each oil is listed separately and the soaper enters the amount of each oil that they will use in the recipe. And when they click to calculate it will determine the amount of water and lye that needs to be used for the specific and amount of oils that are going to be used. This is very important so don't have a end product that is heavy with lye and could cause skin burns. So by using a lye calculator you will end up with a well made product in the end.


While on the topic of lye, many are concerned that because lye is an ingredient in the beginning that it's still present in the end. But to clear that myth up, I'd like to go into this. What most people don't realize is that soap making is all chemistry. A chemical reaction takes place between all the ingredients in soap making and this is called saponification. Saponification occurs when an oil (vegetable or animal based) is mixed with a strong alkali which is the lye. And the final result of that chemical reaction is soap and glycerin. (Did you know that handmade soap actually contains more natural glycerin than glycerin soap. So take that into consideration the next time you buy soap made from melt and pour bases or a glycerin based soap product.)


So now you might ask yourself why is the water or other liquids present in the recipe. It really doesn't have anything to do with the chemical reaction that takes place. But it is necessary because lye is a powder it needs to be mixed with a liquid (in proper proportion) so the oil and lye that is now a liquid form can mix together to produce the chemical reaction needed to make soap. So the soaper can then take advantage of this and use many different liquids that can add benefit the skin in more ways than just what the oils can do. Which is why many soapers use goats milk or milk in their soap.


So just to confirm with you, there is no longer lye present in soap after the saponification process has had time to be completed. Either by hot process or cold process. Please keep reading to find out more on these two processes.


But your not done yet, because this is where the fun beings. There are so many things that can be added to soap. From herbs and flowers and other natural products. Honey, aloe, oatmeal, cornmeal, pumice, just to name a few.


And then you have to decide to scent or not to scent. If you do want to scent your soap, do you want to use essential oils or fragrance oils.


Essential oils are expensive, because of how they are made. They are simply the oil of the plant from which they were extracted. But the cost goes up because it takes a lot of the plant material to make a small quantity of the oil. I've also heard others say that some don't smell like you think it should. For example, strawberry essential oil doesn't smell like strawberries. But they are more natural, and many do have properties that can benefit the skin such as tea tree oil, peppermint, lavender, or calendula.


Fragrance oils are a synthetic blend of oils in an oil base that are made to smell like different products. {These are also used to scent perfumes, many bath and body products, candles and many other products.} It's in fragrance oils that you get your fun scents, like bubble gum, spring rain, cotton candy or french vanilla. And depending on the maker and how much they are diluted with a base oil they really do smell like they should. Peaches smell like peaches and makes you want to take a bite. But do be careful because some are not skin safe and not all users take this into consideration when using these products on the products that will be used on the skin. While they are synthetic they do add a nice touch to bath and body products. So it's a personal choice if the user wants to use a natural made soap that has synthetic fragrance added.


Now that the recipe has been determined, the soaper needs to decide between using the hot process and the cold process method of putting it all together and completing the soap making process.


The biggest difference between the two is how soon you can use the soap after it's been placed into the mold and had the time to harden.


It doesn't matter what process you use, they are all made the same in the beginning. Mixing the oils together, and the liquid and the lye separately. Then mixing them together and blending them together while keeping the heat temperature up until they reach trace. Trace is a specific point in the mixing of the ingredients when the two mixtures (oil and water) will not separate back into separate oil and water mixtures. Basically what trace looks like is pudding in one shape way or form. It can be a light trace which is thinner and still runny to a heavy trace which is like a thicker pudding.


Once trace is achieved the soaper decides if they want to do the cold process or the hot process. Both products turn out the same in the end, and are sinfully wonderful to use.


If the soaper decides to make cold process soap they take the soap at trace and pour it into their molds. Either a loaf mold which is a big block of soap or into cute individual shaped molds. It's then left to harden and later the molds are removed and the soap can then be left to cure and age before it can be used. It's during this cure time that the saponification process can take place, turning the oil and lye into soap. Also during this curing process the water that was added in the recipe evaporates to produce a harder bar of soap.


With hot process soap heat is added to speed up the saponification process. That is why this type of soap can be used sooner. The lye chemically changes during this time and your left with soap. This can be done in a crock pot, on the stove top or in the oven. However in the oven is the best method because you can regulate an even and constant temperature during this process. While there is a lot more to hot process soap, this is the basics. But because the heat is added during this process the added liquid can evaporate. So when this process is complete your left with a hot product that has the consistency of mashed potatoes. So while it's hot you must work quickly and 'plop' it into your molds. Either into a loaf mold, which is a big block of soap or put it into individual shaped molds.


Visually handmade soap will look different than store bought soaps or melt and pour soaps. Many have a dark coloring because they contain dairy products. This happens because during the heating process the lactose in the milk caramelize. This is normal and does not affect the quality of the soap. The coloring can also be affected by certain fragrance oils. Fragrance oils that contain vanilla will produce a soap that is dark brown in color. But additives can be added to lighten the natural coloring. Since the coloring does bother some people. Some cold process soaps will have a whiter color, but not all of them. It really depends on the recipe. (oils used, liquids used, any other added ingredients and fragrance added.)


The scent is a rather obvious difference. I know that is one reason why my daughters friends love my soap. They like the fun scents that I have and use in my soaps. I do have to laugh because now it's expected when my daughter is invited to her friends birthdays that they want to receive the products I make. I'm not sure they care about the quality, but they sure like the scents!!!


Handmade soap does have natural lather, but then that is also based on the recipe. When i first started making my own soap and started to make my own recipes, I only used a small amount of coconut oil that I use now. So by trial and error as well as reading up and learning more I learned that coconut oil is also partly responsible for the lather found in soap. So if you have some handmade soap that doesn't have much lather, it's not because it's not working or that it's good soap, it just doesn't have much of the oils that help produce lather in soap. But the lather that you do have will be a silky texture compared to what you buy in stores and melt and pour soaps. And later after you have dried off and dressed you will also notice your skin is softer as well and will need less moisturizing.


Just be sure you don't let your handmade soap sit in water when it's not in use. You can buy a soap dish to prevent this from happening or you can recycle another product that you might otherwise throw away.


In my bathtub I have a shelf that the soap sits on. But on that shelf i have placed the empty plastic cartridge holder that held the blades to my razor when I bought them. There are holes in it to allow drainage, and they are clear. They clean easy or can be tossed out and replaced. So instead of buying a soap dish that will drain my soap I chose to reuse something that I would have tossed out. So think outside the box on this one.


All soap leaves soap scum in one shape form or another. But store bought soaps have a chemical added to it to help with this problem. So you shouldn't base your decision on the soap you buy on the type of soap scum it leaves behind on your bath tub. This is more obvious with those that take baths rather than showers. But I also found that it cleans off quite easy. Personally to clean my bathtub i use shampoo and a washcloth or a washcloth that has been well lathered with my soap and it cleans without the need for a lot of elbow grease. Unlike the soap scum that is left behind by store bought soaps and melt and pour soaps you need more harsh chemicals and lots of elbow grease to clean away soap scum from those soaps.

 

If you do buy soap that is called handmade but your unsure if it is the real thing or a melt and pour product there is a simple test that you can do. Simply pop it into your microwave and a melt and pour soap will begin to liquefy in a short amount of time. Thirty seconds or less and you will have your results. A true cold process or hot process soap won't melt that easily. Melt and pour soaps contain solvents in it to help it melt so it can be easily molded.


But of course the real test of soap is how it makes your skin feel.


It may cost a little more to buy soap that is handmade but in the end your skin will thank you for it.


You may also ask yourself why does it matter which soap that you use. Just think about this for a moment. The largest organ of your body is your skin. And it's your body's defense mechanism against outside impurities, and it maintains proper body temperature. You skin is also permeable and absorbs everything you put on it. Since soap bought in stores as well as glycerin and melt and pour soaps contain many ingredients that are less than desirable and these ingredients are absorbed into your skin every time you use them. So you need to ask yourself what you value.


Some even question the possibility that these products (and others) may compromise the immune system. But that's a whole new topic that you can research for yourself. But that's for you to research and decide for yourself is there is truth to what you put on your skin and what it absorbs and how it affects your heath.