Before I met Deb from Consciously Connect Soap Factory, I knew nothing about soap. I loved natural homemade soap and for the most part used it. I knew to stay away from some of the massive store brands but I couldn't explain my choices in detail, just that I had a gut feeling homemade was best. Now I know much better! Thanks to Deb I have a more rounded understanding of soap making and make better choices when it comes to the bars I use on my skin. Thankfully Deb has written up a guest post sharing some of her thoughts about soap and why the bars you are using may not be "true" soap.
The importance of understanding the difference between handcrafted soap and store bought soap.......
Written by Deb Dekker, owner of Consciously Connected Soap Factory
Are you Actually Using Soap?
True "soap" is the reaction of combining lye (ash) and oils and or fats. The reaction itself is called "saponification" and during this process glycerin is created along with soap. With the mass produced store soaps (and I use the word "soap" loosely), glycerin is removed shortly after the saponification process to be used in other more expensive products. Synthetic foaming agents, detergents and chemical fragrances are then added to replace the natural humectant glycerin which attracts moisture to your skin and is renowned as a soothing emollient. What is left is a detergent bar, which brings absolutely nothing to the skin no matter what the marketing on the package is telling you. Ever notice that the word "soap" usually doesn't appear on the package? It is because it is not true soap. [Here at Thea-Bel we encourage you to read the label on the "soap" you are currently using, we were shocked to find out that some of the bars we have used in the past don't have the word "soap" anywhere on the packaging]
Why Natural is Not Always Better
The word that bothers me the most in this industry is the word "natural". There is absolutely no governing for the word "natural" and as a result it is completely misused and misleading to consumers, in my opinion. The proof is in the label. "True" soap is made using "real" ingredients. [To give you an idea of what ingredients go into soap, here are the ingredients in our favorite soap, the Bamboo Soap: Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Castor Oil, Mica/TD (colour),French Green Clay, Botanical Clay, Chia Seeds, Goat Milk and Fragrance Oil: Bamboo]
The one complaint I often hear from potential customers is the cost of handcrafted soap. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why it is more expensive. Small operation soap-makers like myself are not in a position to purchase ingredients in large amounts, this is where the main profit would be. "Real" ingredients are expensive, which is why so many soap companies use chemical substitutes. A great illustration of these costs is essential oils. Anyone who uses essential oils knows how beneficial they are but also how expensive! Most people when using essential oils for example are using drops so a little goes a long way. We soap-makers are using ounces. When I make an 8 lb batch of soap I am using 6 ounces of essential oil.
Some Final Thoughts
Most soap-makers do not get paid for their time, its recouping costs and purchasing more ingredients. We do it because we love making and creating soap and want to produce an exquisite product.