Commercial "Soap" vs. Handcrafted Soap - What's The Difference?

Are you asking yourself, isn't soap just soap?  No big surprise that it can't be quite that cut and dry.

Commercial bars are often labeled as "beauty bars", "moisturizing bars" or "body bars".  These bars are what we often refer to as "soap".  But they aren't actually soap, they are detergent.  Yup, it's true.  Using the word "soap" is actually heavily regulated.  This also helps explain why many find commercial bars drying.

The commercial detergent bars {as opposed to real soap} are made by combining cheap oils and chemicals together and heated to create their product.  This process often removes any natural glycerin because the glycerin reduces shelf-life.  The glycerin is then used for lotions and other products where the coveted moisturizing ingredient is needed. To replace the missing glycerin, chemicals are added back in to help the bars lather like soap.  The resulting bar is not only drying, but may actually aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Credit has to be given to the large manufacturers, however, because they do an amazing job at convincing all of us their product is good for our skin.  I certainly believed it prior to making my own soap.

Cold-process soap, as opposed to commercial detergent bars, is made using a combination of oils and/or fats and lye.  The type of oils and fats used are chosen by the soapmaker based on their moisturizing and lathering qualities as well as those that will help the bar harden allowing it to last longer.  The caustic qualities of the lye are removed during the saponification process, which is when the lye interacts with the oils/fats and creates soap and glycerin.  This creates a moisturizing, rather than drying, bar of soap.

Here are the ingredients listed on a very popular "beauty bar": Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium cocoate, sodium laurel sulfate, water, sodium isethionate, stearic acid, coconut fatty acid, fragrance, titanium dioxide, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium etidronate, BHT, Fd&C blue no.1, D&C red no. 33.

Scary, isn't it?

Here are the ingredients of one of our bars of soap, for example:  Distilled Water, Coconut Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil, Lye, Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Castor Oil, Shea Butter, Calendula, and Orange Essential Oil.
All things you recognize, right?

Real soap is a blend of oils and fats that nourish your skin.  So, soap is soap as long as it is, in fact, soap.

Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.


Abby Frances said...

I just bought some of your lip balm and all-natural deodorant and I highly recommend them! I'm in love with doing things naturally and using all-natural products that are much better for my health than commercial products loaded with dangerous and often unnecessary chemicals. I have a feeling I will be trying your soap in the near future as well!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Hooray Abby! Thank you so much for purchasing our products and I'm thrilled you like them. :)

daisy g said...

What a fresh perspective. Thanks for helping me see this in a new way. I'd recommend your soaps to everyone. They smell wonderful and last such a long time!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks so much Daisy!!