What is soap? Why use natural soap?
We use soap everyday multiple times throughout the day but do we actually know what is actually being used? To answer this we would need to know basics about soap.
What is soap? Soap is a compound made of oils or butters and strong alkali like sodium hydroxide (lye) causing saponification. Once saponification occurs soap does not have any lye left in it as each sodium hydroxide molecule binds with oils or butters to form soap. All soaps are made with lye, but there is no lye in the finished product. In handmade soaps additional oils or butters are added so that soap is left with extra oils / butters leaving your skin moisturized.
Difference between commercial soap and handmade soaps: Commercial soaps are often not called soap but presented as beauty bars or moisturizing bars as they are not truly soaps. They are detergents (produces lots of lather because of harsh chemicals) and hence cannot claim them as soaps. Also they remove glycerin (a humectant which means it attracts moisture from surroundings and gives back to skin) that is produced during saponification and sell it separately. In handmade soaps glycerin remains intact in the soap. It is also made up of simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals.
Our skin is porous means it can absorb certain elements. Prolonged use of chemicals can clogs pores and cause toxins to be accumulated. The main culprit among commercial soaps are body washes as they are purely detergents which are even harmful to environment when they go down the drain.
Which soap is right? Just because it’s handmade does not guarantee it’s good for you. Be cautious when choosing one. There are basically three different ways to make handmade soaps.
Melt and pour: the easiest way to create soap at home faster and without you touching lye. These are glycerin based transparent soaps. They are better than commercial soaps but not as good as cold process soaps.
Hot process soaps: Soap is cooked after saponification. It is good soap which can be used soon after its cooled.
Cold process soaps: This method takes longest time to produce each bar and it does not involve any external heat. This is the best method to produce highest quality soaps. It takes nearly 4-6 weeks to cure after soap is made and cut.
When buying soaps read labels carefully and look for all natural organic oils, additives like high quality essential oils and fragrance oils, certified colorants etc. Once you are used to natural soap with luxurious lather its hard to go back to commercial soap that dry out the skin.
The information in this blog is gathered from doing lot of research and reading many blogs, papers etc.
Cheryl McCoy,” http://www.naturalnews.com/026110_soap_natural_clay.html”
Kim Deleary, "Your Skin Absorbs Whatever You Put on It," https://suite.io/kim- deleary/sz12es
"Toxic Chemicals from Shampoo, Soap May Be Seeping into Drinking Water," Medindia.com, http://www.medindia.net/news/Toxic-Chemicals-from-Shampoo-Soap-may-Be-Seeping-into-Drinking-Water-30779-1.htm