Do you remember that scene in the movie Fight Club where Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are stealing human fat from the garbage of a plastic surgery facility? And then they go back to their house and Brad Pitt kisses Edward Norton’s hand and pours lye on the kiss mark and the lye reacts with the water and starts burning a hole through Edward Norton’s hand? Ok, maybe not a good movie for the kiddos, but when I was a teenager it was one of those movies you had to watch at least 3 times to totally appreciate.
What were they doing? They were making soap!
Let’s talk chemistry here for a quick second
Please bear with me, I majored in chemistry in college and I’m gonna try really hard not to nerd out here:
Fats (oils) + sodium hydroxide (lye) = glycerol + fatty acid salt (aka soap!!)
A chemical reaction occurs when you mix fats and lye at just the right proportions called saponification. Saponification always produces glyercol + soap.
What is glycerol and why is it important?
Glycerol is a humectant. A humectant keeps things moist, in this case- your skin! So when you use soap your skin should become moist, not dry. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you use soap your skin feels really dry after, though? Why is that?
Get ready: many major companies who sell soap take the glycerol OUT so that their soap will leave your skin DRY. Why on earth would they do that?!?! So they can use the glycerol they have taken out of the soap and put it into a lotion to sell you so can combat your new dry skin problems which they just produced (cue GASP here). I hate it when chemistry is used for evil and not good.
I promise I’m not a crazy conspiracy person… ok maybe just a little bit sometimes, but not with this, this is actually true. Don’t get me started on Kurt Cobain or the Boston Marathon Bombings or the Zika Virus, though. Dont.
Go ahead and check the packaging on that bar you have in your shower right now. First of all, it might not even say “soap” cause technically they can’t advertise it as soap if they take the glyercol out of it. Maybe it says “beauty bar” or “detergent” or “facial cleanser” or “body wash.” If it doesn’t say soap, it’ ain’t soap.
Secondly, go ahead and take a look at the ingredients. What is all that stuff? Chemical detergents, chemical lathering agents, chemical scents and colors. Unfortunately not good for your skin and definitely not good for your insides.
Many of the ingredients you will find in commercially available soaps are generally recognized as safe by the FDA; however, many of those ingredients may also cause skin irritation, have a drying effect, cause allergies, and even clog pores.
I really enjoy using real soap, and it feels good knowing I’m not exposing my largest organ to man-made chemicals when I shower or wash my face.
Benefits to using all natural handmade soap:
1) Better, real ingredients that are actually beneficial for your skin
2) No harmful chemicals that can irritate or dry out your skin (or worse)
3) Glycerol is not removed, keeping your skin moisturized
Caring for your natural soap
Natural soap does not contain preservatives or chemical hardeners. Do not leave your soap in sitting water, and keep your soap in a well-draining soap dish or on a rack. Also, do not leave your soap in a place where the shower stream is directly hitting it. Following these tips can help you get the most out of your real soap, so happy washing :)