Getting a little healthier and cleaner can be a challenge for all ages including myself. It’s important to remember getting healthier can begin with easy steps like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It can also be as simple as eating an apple instead of chips. But always reward yourself in some way for taking those extra steps. This could be as simple as buying yourself the thing at your local store that you can’t get out of your mind. In the following article, you will find helpful information on choosing soap products and which ‘unhealthy’ products to avoid.
Disclaimer – We recommend you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you’re pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
For educational purposes only: This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
What’s in your Soap?
We all know the big box store is the easiest place to find our personal hygiene products. But what are all those long words you have never heard of on the back of the packaging? What do they do and are they necessary? Are they harmful?
The real answer isn’t cut and dry. Soap making can be a daunting task, especially for those not experienced at it. Saponification is the process of mixing fat with lye to turn it into what we commonly know as soap. There’s no way to make soap without lye.
There are several processes in which soap is made by local artisans: Hot Process, Cold Process, and Melt and Pour. If the calculation for the soap is correct, the lye will have reacted completely, leaving the chemical compounds we know as lye Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide out of the finished product.
Hot process is when raw ingredients (plant or animal fats) are heated for longer periods of time, together with lye, to create soap. The heating of the lye, water, and fat mixture for extended periods of time, quickens the reaction time of the chemical components in order to lower the cure time. The soap is then placed in a mold and allowed to harden. Once hard, it’s removed from the mold and cut. The soap is then cured for one to two weeks before it’s tested for neutrality and then packaged and sold.
Cold process is when raw ingredients are mixed with lye and water. Depending on the ingredients they may be melted to combine them. Then, it’s poured into a mold, allowed to harden, and cut. It cures for 4-6 weeks and is packaged and sold after being tested for neutrality.
The ‘Melt and pour process’ is when the soap is made using one of the above processes. Artisans who don’t make soap can buy these large blocks, melt it and add their own personal touches.
Soap can be designed with essential oils or fragrance oils. Soap can also be designed to produce a harder bar and it can also be designed to lather more. This is where the bad ingredients comes into play. Depending on the maker of the soap, they may want a harder bar. They have to add synthetic ingredients to achieve this. One of the ingredients you may find in your soap is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It creates a higher lather. It’s important to remember bubbles really have nothing to do with cleanliness. You may find the more natural your soap products are, the less bubbles or lather you see. Don’t worry…you’re still getting clean! Added ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can be found in anything from Shampoo to bubble bath. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can be a skin irritant. Those, people with sensitive skin may experience skin discomfort.
Fragrance oils are also something frequently added to soaps. We all want to smell nice and soap manufacturers know this and try to create a long-lasting fragrance. Many of the fragrance oils are manufactured without a disclosure of what they are. Some may be made from natural sources while others are made with synthetic sources. Some of the fragrance oils can be irritating to the skin, especially for those of us or are prone to skin irritation.
It is important to mention that not all strange names on the soap labels are bad. Sometimes they are just the chemical compound name of the natural ingredient once it has reacted with the lye. For example, coconut oil before it is reacted with lye is Cocos Nuciferea (Cocnut) Oil and after it has reacted with Sodium Hydroxide (lye) it is Sodium Cocoate.
The amount of chemicals and ingredients found in soap can be quite extensive. When looking for soap that is likely to cause less skin irritation search for soaps with a lower ingredient list. Research the ingredients and if possible, talk with those who make soap. There are local artisan soap makers just about everywhere. Look for them at vending events throughout Hope Mills, get their cards, and call them. More natural alternative soaps can be found at natural health food stores like Apple Crate. They can also be found at a local artisan store like 1910 Apothecary. The variety of soaps and prices at artisan shops will vary. The price may be more than you’re accustomed to, but the benefits outweigh the cost. And supporting a local business is much more beneficial to the local economy than handing those dollars off to the big box store.
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