Bath Soap: Commercial Vs. Small Business
Showering and bathing is an important aspect of our hygiene routine, but do you ever really think about that bar of bath soap that you use? Last weekend, I had the pleasure of talking to the younger brother of my sister’s boyfriend and he went into detail about his skin troubles. He talked about his struggle with acne and eczema. Brent and I can relate to this, because as teenagers, we too had skin issues. That discussion is why I chose to write about how mass produced bath soaps are inferior and problematic to handmade, natural bath soaps.
Bath soaps are an absolute necessity to being clean, especially with the on-going pandemic. Soap is made of components that are both hydrophilic, meaning it likes water, and hydrophobic, that repels water and prefers oils and fats. Pathogens that make us sick have a similar makeup, with them being protected by a lipid (fat) shell. Without getting too scientific, when you wash your hands with soap and water, the hydrophobic tails in soap will rip apart the molecules of bacteria and viruses as the tails prefer the fatty layer of the shell housing the pathogen. Without that protection, they will die. It is pretty metal when you think about it.
Since people are staying home more and likely watching more TV, you probably have seen ads for big name bath soaps. The thing about these soaps is that they likely contain chemicals or inferior ingredients in order to reduce the price at the cost of potentially irritating someone’s skin. They include chemicals with confusing or strange sounding names and that should be enough to make you consider your purchase of that soap. Another common thing that you will notice about these bath soaps is that they lack lye, a key ingredient in soap making. Yes it is a chemical and you should wear proper personal protection equipment when handling it. The thing is that we would not have soaps without lye. Big names will use something like sodium palm kernelate, which is palm oil that has been mixed with sodium hydroxide, which is a lye. The use of palm oil itself is problematic, given how plantations lead to deforestation and slave labor.
Never let anyone tell you that lye shouldn’t be soaps. Without lye, the bath soap is more like a detergent. Soap should be natural but a detergent is always a man-made product that cannot produce the same results. Another thing about lye is that during the saponification process, lye is used to turn the oils and fats present to be turned into soap. There is no lye in the final product, but we include it in our ingredients because without it, there is no soap.
Small batch soaps, such as ours, also have oils and fats that one may know about already instead of some lab created chemical. We have coconut oil, shea butter, kokum butter, beef tallow, castor oil and olive oil in our bath soaps. Not one of those ingredients like Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate or Pentasodium Pentetate. Those commercial soaps also use synthetic dyes to color their soaps, while we use mica clay to give color to our products. Mica clay comes from naturally occurring minerals, not some lab.
In the end, think about your next bath soap purchase. Those big name, mass produce soaps are not all they seem to be. They are more like detergents instead of soap. They contain chemicals that harm your skin and might be sourced shady plantations. Support your local and small business who actually care for their customers.