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Health, Home, and Happiness: Simple Pleasures: Handmade Soap

Monday, January 11, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Handmade Soap

A friend made this for me when I realized that even Dr. Bronner's soap was giving my little one a rash.  Soap is tricky, since good natural soap is the product of lye and oils, which means we can't only go on ingredients, the soapmaking process is important too (so all the lye is processed correctly). 

Knowing who makes your soap is fun! If you have a local artisan who has their soap at your health food store or farmer's market, it's nice to try a bar and see how it feels.  Our special-made Simply Coconut soap has Coconut Milk (the liquid, this can be teas, water, milks, or other liquids), tallow (for hardness, tallow makes soap last longer), olive oil (which has moisturizing properties if I remember correctly), and coconut oil for the nice lather.  A soap artisan will balance different fats to do different things in their soaps, which I've looked into a little bit but don't know a whole lot about.  I just know that we appreciate simple good-quality soap with pure ingredients!

Some cautions when looking at handmade soap: I check ingredients carefully and avoid fragrance oils, since they are synthetic.  Also, hand-poured soap seems to mean that it came from a mass-produced block (with possible undesirable ingredients), was melted down, had additives (synthetic or natural) mixed in, and then is poured out again.  Natural soaponified oils (that's the process of mixing oils with lye to make the soap) with essential oils and other natural additives are quite sufficient for cleaning, I haven't found the need for anything synthetic.  Also, the soap needs to be processed and cured right, or there can be little pockets of lye, so it's good to buy from an experienced soap artisan.

I'm still using the tooth soap I talked about earlier this year.  I've also used this Simply Coconut soap as shampoo with success (still the vinegar rinse), and used it to brush my teeth as well.  I'm starting to think that we don't need nearly as many 'personal care products' as are being marketed to us ;-)


My friend and favorite soap artisan Nicole is willing to do a few full-batch orders of all natural soap for those who are ready to make the switch to natural soap for their families.
A batch is ten 4-ounce bars. They will need a few weeks to cure, as they are specially made to order. A batch costs $40 but she'll throw in free shipping as a bonus for my readers. Email me carafaus at gmail dot com if you're interested and I'll forward your information along to Nicole.

How about you? Have you found a hand-made soap that you like?

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Blogger Raine Saunders said...

Hi Cara - love this post! I've been on a crusade to eliminate personal care products from our use in the home as well. I think it's all a big waste of money and a source of many health issues.

I don't use deodorant anymore, I just use plain old soap and water. I've been buying South of France soaps from our health food store, but they are pretty expensive. Your friend's soaps sound really great. I am hoping to order some soon. I just need to wait until we get paid again.

We are still using toothpaste - Jason brand. But, I am going to check out your tooth soap page and see what that's all about (soon).

I don't wear much makeup anymore, but when I do it's natural mineral makeup and Dr. Hauschka's mascara. I use coconut or almond oil for remover. That's about the extent of our personal care products. We do have Dr. Bronner's soaps in our dispensers in the bathroom too.

Thanks for your thoughtful information!

January 14, 2010 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

Hi Raine,
That sounds like me! I haven't ever been real fussy about what I use with cosmetics and simple seems to work just fine. Or at least my husband things so :)

January 15, 2010 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Have you ever used your bar soap on your hair? I've been buying locally crafted soap from some beekeepers nearby. They're making their soap from beeswax, coconut oil, etc. and adding essential oil for 'variety'. But for the last several months, not only have I been using their soap for showering, but I rub it on my wet head and wash my hair with it. I have thick, wavy hair that is prone to frizzing from humidity, and it seems to work great (as good at the Giovanni Organics that I was using that now is deemed by OCA as not so great...). Anyway, I don't use any sort of rinse, I don't find it necessary. Now when I get out of the shower, it takes a little bit more effort to comb out my hair that it did when I used conditioner, but it's nothing major and it dries to be very manageable. I just found your blog, and am quite interested in reading whatever you have on here! ;-)

January 22, 2010 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Cara said...

I do use it in my hair, I usually just get a lather worked up in my hands and then use it as shampoo. I rinse with diluted vinegar, and that makes it easy to comb out.

Don't you just love finding natural inexpensive tricks that work?

Thanks for stopping by!

January 22, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Beach Mama said...

Hi sweetie! I love the Blog and looking forward to more.

I recently took a FABULOUS weekend 'bootcamp' on soapmaking at The Nova Studio in Berkley, CA. We mainly focused on cold-processed soap (CP) but did talk about melt and poor and re-batching. The CP process produces the purest soap. Of course, as you point out, the ingredients do make a difference in the soaps quality. Lori Nova, owner of The Nova Studio, told our class that soap is too alkaline for hair and should only be used on the body. Our hair needs more of an acid balance cleansing agent.

I LOVE the soap berry idea! I have been pairing down on personal and household products for many years. I have us down to vinegar and baking soda for cleaning but the laundry has been my nemesis! Construction clothing is tuff but nothing compared to tree service clothing! The pitch and chainsaw oil are real buggers. Do you think these fabulous berries might work on my hubby's duds?

All the best to you and the family! xxoo

February 16, 2010 at 10:19 AM  

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