Tuesday, March 23, 2010

what? you don't use soap?!

Take a close look at the packaging of your 
favorite commercial brand soap. 
 Do you see the word SOAP anywhere on it?
Or, is it called a beauty bar, cleansing bar, or body bar?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that's because you are not using soap! You are using a synthetically formulated detergent to clean your skin. If the manufacturer is following correct FDA labeling, these products cannot legally be called SOAP.

True soap is created through the saponification process which involves combining oils (fats) with alkali (salt) to create a binding chemical reaction that forms a humectant, glycerin. Glycerin is worth more pound for pound than actual soap, and prized for hydrating results in lotions, creams and moisturizing treatments. Many commercial manufacturers often remove the glycerin from their formulations and sell it. They replace it with synthetic lathering ingredients, call it something catchy like a "beauty bar" and there you go... technically, it's no longer soap, but you can pick up 3 bars for $1.99.

If you want a true quality soap, you need to learn to read the ingredients label, just like you do on your cereal box! 

The cold process method produces premium quality soaps, but takes the longest. This is the method we use at The Grapeseed Co. to create our wine bar organic soaps. All of the glycerin is retained in our formulations which is why many comment that their sensitive skin does not feel tight or dry after using Grapeseed Co. soaps. The best quality cold process soaps use organic vegetable oils and need to dry (or "cure" in soap terms) for up to 1 month before they can be sold for use. There are 2 other soap making processes: hot process, which is like a speedy version of cold process, by adding heat to the formulation to get things moving. And melt and pour which is popular with crafty types and kids; think of those soap making kits you see at Michael's. As my mom would say, it's like making a birthday cake with a mix rather than from scratch.

here's a peek at how our handmade cold process soap is formed
syrah wine bars curing in molds after being poured and swirled

syrah and chardonnay organic soaps after being cut


  1. WOW!!! Super awesome post my friend! I love your mom's analogy! Okay- I seriously want to come out and visit you and your company and just sit in awe of how this all comes together! You are amazing :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words, you are welcome at the Eco Beauty Kitchen anytime, soap making is pretty fun!

  3. Of course, I agree with your presentation of soap as the best thing for skin. Gorgeous swirls, btw.

    However, your science is just a bit off. Soap itself is a salt. It is the result of combining fats (acid) with alkali (a base). Chemistry 101: combining an acid with a base creates salt. :)


  4. Thanks for your clarification in chemistry terms Amy. In plain English, oil is in fact a fat and alkali is a salt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkali so it looks as though we are both correct :)

  5. Always read the ingredients label people :-)

  6. Nice post. Thanks for sharing these interesting information.

  7. Your soaps are beautiful. I am a "soap nerd" too, so I know the feeling ;)