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Is your Christmas soap as ‘all natural’ as it seems?

Is your Christmas soap as ‘all natural’ as it seems?

If you are planning to buy your loved ones hand made soaps as gifts this year, be sure you know what you’re buying and that they are just what they say on the label! Take advice from our guru, Debbie Shivvers.


I see more and more soap makers claiming they make ‘all natural’ or organic soaps. USDA prohibits soap from being labeled ‘organic’.


There is no such thing as organic soap according to the USDA guidelines.  Soaps can be made with organic ingredients and that can be listed on the label; for example you can say made with 75% organic ingredients, but you cannot claim it is organic.


‘All natural’ is a widely used term, but do we really know what all natural means?


There are basically three types to hand crafted soaps: Cold Process, Hot Process or Melt and Pour. Cold and Hot process are made by combining sodium hydroxide with oils and heat to create ‘real soap’.  True soap cannot be made without sodium hydroxide.


Melt and pour type soaps are a block of soap base that you purchase already made, then melt and mold it into the soap design of your choice.  Below is a typical list of ingredients of melt and pour soap base: Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Water, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Goats Milk, Sodium Myristate, Sodium Laurate, Triethanolamine, Tocopherol, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5. Does any of that look ‘all natural’?


Propylene Glycol is a cosmetic form of mineral oil, found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol, as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. (


According to the propylene glycol Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), prolonged or repeated exposure to propylene glycol may cause damage to the central nervous system. The MSDS also states that propylene glycol may affect human genetics and, based on animal test data, may cause birth defects and adverse reproductive effects

. In my opinion, melt and pour soaps are not ‘all natural’.  They are made with a multitude of chemicals that most of us have no idea what they are. According to the ingredient list, it is not even soap, it is detergent.


The average cold process soap is made up of a combination of popular oils. Olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter seem to be widely popular. Castile soaps are made with pure olive oil. When sodium hydroxide is added to the oils, it creates a molecular change that creates soap and glycerin. Glycerin is a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture to your skin.  Many cold/hot process soap makers also add an array of minerals and botanicals to their recipe to enhance the soaps’ skin-loving properties.


When shopping for handcrafted soaps be sure and know the differences so that you can make an informed purchase.  There is more to artisan soaps than pretty colors and lovely smells.

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  1. by Stonemea
    Comment made on: December 6 2012

    Great article!!! I was making goats milk soap over Thanksgiving with Lye and my brother was very concerned about the poison I was using to create my soap. I added Deer Tallow from a deer we had hunted, as part of the oils. Talk about being able to use all of an animal. I add Almond butter and it makes a nice textured soap. It amazes me what people don’t know.

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