1. Handcrafted soaps are manufactured locally in small batches with the personal oversight and care of the soapmaker. Handcrafted soapmakers use high-quality ingredients and are able to add specialty oils and additives to personalize their formulations. Natural soap is made from a chemical reaction between water, lye (also known as sodium hydroxide), and fats and oils. These fats and oil are turned into soap and glycerin by a chemical process called Saponification. This process, when completed properly, leaves you with pure soap, glycerin, and some residue from the natural ingredients. Glycerin is the key byproduct which attracts and retains moisture on your skin. Most commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin from the soap to then create other more expensive products such as skin moisturizers, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and other products.
2. There are three methods to produce handmade soap.
a. “Melt & Pour” - There are Melt and Pour “soap kits” you can buy at craft store to engage soap making at a kid safe level. These are generally glycerin based transparent soaps. They are not as harmful as the commercial bars, however they are still not “pure soap”.
b. "Cold Process." - The cold process method takes the most time as it does not utilize heat after the saponification process. Soap bars produced using this method typically go through a 3-6 week curing time based on the types of oils utilized. It is undoubtedly the best method for producing the highest quality soaps amongst handcrafted soap makers.
c. "Hot Process" - The hot process method utilizes heat after the saponification process has taken place by taking the “cold process liquid” and heating it for hour to speed up the curing process. This makes the soap less viscous however, less curing time is required.
3. With handmade soaps, just like with commercially manufactured bars, you need to read the labels. The goal is to find soaps that utilize only pure, natural & organic oils or fats.
4. Avoid any bars that use “artificial colors” or “fragrances”. These are synthetic chemicals and you don't want them on your skin. If you want a colored or scented soap bar, look for one that utilizes natural, organic colorants and steam distilled neat essential oils.
5. Commercially produced soap, “detergent” is manufactured by combining chemicals (including petroleum) into a slurry mixer. The mixture heats up on its own as a result of two chemical reactions. Once the mixture reaches the required temperature, it is dried using a vacuum chamber and an atomizer. The resulting powder is then mixed with various other ingredients to form the final product.
6. The term “soap” is heavily regulated by the FDA. Companies are not permitted to use the term “soap” unless it is truly a handcrafted bar of soap (which is only produced by handcrafted soapmakers).
7. Terminology large companies utilize to remain in compliance with the FDA:
a. Dry Skin Cleansers
b. Anti-Aging Moisturizing Bars
c. Body Wash
d. Shower Gel
e. Bath Foam
f. Body Lather
g. Gentle Skin Cleansing Bar
h. Beauty Bar
8. Most large companies manufacturing these “fake soap products” aka “detergents” utilize petroleum based ingredients such as the following (check your labels on the products you own today):
a. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
b. Acrylates Copolymer
d. Petroleum byproducts (aka degreaser & PAH, known to cause cancer, skin irritation and allergies)
e. Stearic Acid
f. Sodium Sterate
g. Triclosan (known to the EPA as a pesticide, see below)
h. Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
9. Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Consumers are, therefore, exposed to triclosan for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their hands or face. Your skin is porous and absorbent. It absorbs whatever it comes in contact with, similar to sticking something in your mouth. Chronic use of chemical laden products will cause the body to store the chemicals in the body fat or even in the brain. With enough accumulations of toxins in the body, illness can occur.
10. The “detergent based” chemicals and toxins found in commercially produced “fake soap” are finding their way into our eco-system. Each time that lather goes down the drain, the pollutants are going with it. A recent report by the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) revealed that synthetic chemicals from soap, body washes, shampoos and other healthcare products were passing through the filters at water purification plants. The list of offenders included phthalates, which are linked to reproductive disorders in humans and animals, and parabens, a preservative, which is linked to cancer.