The Ingredient Run-down

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Someone asked recently what ingredients I use in my soaps.  I thought just making a big list would be a bit boring, so I thought I’d go into a little more depth here: 

OIls: At present, I use olive, coconut, palm, sweet almond, avocado and castor oils.  Each  one has different properties that contribute to the soap.  Coconut oil is bubbly and cleansing, palm makes a hard, long lasting bar, and avocado is a great moisturizer. Olive oil makes for a very gentle bar and castor oil helps stabilize lather. 

Butters: I use mango and shea, both great moisturizers that add a silky feel to the lather and the bar. 

Sodium hydroxide: Also known as lye, NaOH is used to make every bar of soap, but don’t worry–it’s not in the finished product, per se.  The oils and lye become the soap. It’s kind of like when you add flour, salt, butter and sugar together to make cookies. The ingredients meld and change to become something completely different and wonderful.  If a soap maker tells you no lye was used in the making of their soap, they are either (a) lying to you, (b) not a soap maker or (c), didn’t make their own soap.  

Beverages: I have been known to use espresso, beer and cider in place of water in my lye solution.  Coffee is great for removing odors, and beer and cider have great lathering and conditioning properties.  

Purified water: Used in the majority of my soaps, to dissolve the NaOH.

Goat’s milk: I use goat’s milk in my goat’s milk soaps, of course!

Fragrance: I use fragrance oils for the scent in the majority of my soaps.  All of the fragrances I use are formulated specifically for use in bath and body products and, thus, are skin safe, and are usually used in less than the manufacturer recommended amounts.  I think a bar of soap should smell good, but never be overwhelming.

Essential oils: I do use a few essential oils, like lavender, tea tree and lemon, in my facial soaps for their skin soothing and cleansing properties. 

Colorants: I use micas, pigments and oxides to color my soaps.  All skin safe and approved for use in soaps.  

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Clockwise from top left: french green clay, french red clay, fine sea salt, chamomile buds, tussah silk, lavender buds and calendula.

Other additives: 

  • Calendula, lavender, peppermint and other herbs: used to infuse oils for their properties.
  • Clays: from french red and green to kaolin and sea clay, they offer detoxifying, exfoliating and skin cleansing benefits.
  • Tussah silk: the discarded silk from cocoons, this is added to add silkiness to the bar.
  • Honey: used in my milk & honey soap, it’s a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin.
  • Sea salt: used in salt bars for exfoliation and detoxification, and added to the water in other formulas to help add hardness to the bar.
  • Fruits and veggies: I recently added pureed banana to a soap and plan to add carrots to another.  Different fruits and veggies add different properties!

I think I caught everything, but I’m sure as I make more soaps, I’ll explore more ingredients and add to this list.  All of my soaps will always have the ingredients listed in the description, but if for some reason they don’t, please let me know and I will be happy to give you a complete list.  If you aren’t sure what an ingredient is or aren’t sure why it’s in my soap, feel free to ask and I will be happy to let you know!

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