Knowing What's in Your Soap

I have to confess. I wasn't always soap savvy. I used go to the grocery store and buy whatever soap had the nicest label or had a color that matched my bathroom. Yes, my skin was always dry and yes I always needed to moisturize. I was not aware of what me and my family were actually bathing with on a daily basis.

Thankfully, as I became more tuned in to healthful living habits, I learned the truth about these commercially produced, store-bought soaps. And the truth is that they're basically detergents, with harsh synthetic chemicals and dyes and all sorts of bad things you can’t pronounce. To illustrate my point I’ve selected 3 popular soap’s ingredient lists as an example. Have a look:

1 - Dove Cool Moisture Beauty Bar:
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate and/or Sodium Palmate, Sodium Stearate, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Cocoate and/or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium C12 14 Olefin Sulfonate, Fragrance, Sodium Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5 Lake

2 - Camay Bath Bar Soap:
Sodium Tallowate and/or Sodium Palmate , Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Cocoate , Water , Fragrance , Sodium Chloride , Glycerin, Coconut Fatty Acid , Tallow Fatty Acid , Tetrasodium EDTA , DMDM Hydantoin , Titanium Dioxide , FD&C Red 4 (CI 14700 , D&C Yellow 10 (CI 74005)

3 - Irish Spring Original Soap:
Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Cocoate, and/or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Water, Hydrogenated Tallow Acid, Coconut acid, Glycerin, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Pentasodium Pentetate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraditbutyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Titanium dioxide,D&C green No. 8, FD&C Green No 3

Now a little soap history-- the first concrete evidence of knowledgeable soap making was apparently found in ancient Rome with discovery of a soap bar factory in the ruins of Pompeii (below picture taken from my trip to Pompeii in 2010!)                                                                                                                                                     

However, the soap they produced was too harsh for the skin and was only used for clothing. At around 1500 A.D. soaps were created for bathing purposes throughout Europe. But during the Middle Ages, the practice of bathing was considered dangerous and unsanitary.It wasn’t until the 18th century that the living standards increased in Europe, as did the demand for soap. 


Because soap making is a process that involves the saponification of oils and fats with lye (or Sodium Hydroxide), farm animals were slaughtered in order to provide the tallow (cow fat) that was necessary for making it. And while soap factories did not appear in America until the early 19th century, methods of soap production have apparently changed very little since then and are still made from tallow (Sodium Tallowate). Most all of the soaps on the market today are produced by only a handful of independent soap makers, and while they may have a slightly different appearance from one brand to the next, they are all basically the same, made from animal fat and lots of synthetic chemicals.


The soaps I make here at The Chunky Soap Shoppe are made from all natural bases consisting of coconut oil, palm oil, safflower oil and vegetable glycerin (for full ingredient list please refer to the individual product descriptions, as each soap is different). Some of my soaps are made with Grade A extra virgin Olive Oil, and many contain other skin-loving and moisturizing ingredients such as cocoa butter, aloe vera, goat milk, honey and oatmeal. Detoxifying clays and activated charcoal are additionally added to many of my soaps for their skin purifying benefits, as well as natural exfoliators such as loofah, calendula, and lemon peel powder for skin rejuvenation and freshening. All of the colorants in my soaps are natural based oxides, ultramarines, clays and powders. I use essential oils as well as fragrance oils to achieve the soap’s delicious aromas, which I believe are important to enhancing the bathing experience and one's overall sense of well-being. None of my soaps contain SLS, phthalates, artificial dyes or parabens.


It feels good to cleanse your skin with such nourishing ingredients. And while my personally handcrafted soap may cost more than the commercially produced detergent (i mean, soap), there’s little doubt as to what is the better and healthier choice for yourself and your family. Besides that, my soaps will give you all the lathering, skin-soothing and gentle cleansing action you’re looking for, while also being 1 1/2 to 2x the size in weight as the typical grocery store bars.