All prefer beautifully textured and pleasant smelling, fragrant liquid soaps and bars. The craze for perfect soaps is not new. Instead, soapmaking has existed for thousands of years. Interestingly, a soap-like substance was found in cylinders during ancient Babylon excavations. It provides the earliest evidence of soapmaking that dates to 2800 B.C.
Soap-making has evolved a lot since then, but one thing remains unchanged: everyone’s love for scented soaps. Most people believe the advertisements and buy them thinking of their multiple skin benefits; however, it is not valid.
Soaps have synthetic chemicals and toxins that harm the skin and the environment once washed down the drain. They are especially harmful to our water bodies.
Eco-friendly soaps are gentle on the body and also the environment. They are entirely natural and can be made in your kitchen space. For this reason, many people are now understanding the harmful environmental impact of soaps and shifting to their eco-friendly counterparts.
In this article, let us look at the negatives of ordinary soaps and the benefits of using eco-friendly soaps. At last, let’s see a quick recipe for making soap at your home.
Why avoid traditional soaps?
Non-biodegradable plastic packaging
Traditional soaps should be avoided completely because they have many disadvantages. Firstly, most soaps come in double-plastic packaging or plastic containers. Apart from being harmful in themselves, they increase waste accumulation in landfills.
Also, if we talk about recycling, it is known that most of the plastic waste is not sent for recycling, especially in the developing countries that lack resources for setting up expensive recycling plants. Even in the West, only one-third of plastic goes for recycling. If it is sent for recycling, then plastic can be recycled only a few times, and it does not disappear from the ecosystem but is present in one form or another.
Contains additives and chemicals
Most hand soaps are marketed as natural or organic, or allergen-free, but they contain many additives and chemicals. Most soaps contain parabens and artificial fragrances, colours and toxins. However, these soaps lead to serious health issues and skin conditions that become apparent in the case of people with sensitive skin. At the same time, we may wonder if these are harmful to us since we have been using them for a long time.
For instance, parabens are used in soaps and most cosmetics to stop the growth of mould and other bacteria in the products. However, research by EWG has revealed that parabens disrupt the endocrine in the body and interfere with women’s reproductive capacity, causing reproductive harm.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is another harmful beauty ingredient but is present in 95% of beauty and skincare products, including soaps. This substance causes the lathering of soaps, face washes, and anti-acne face products. Foaming bubbles and lather feels good as we feel it is deeply cleansing the skin, taking all the dirt and pollution away. However, it also takes away the skin’s moisture and beauty and gives harmful reactions in return.
SLS’s are extremely harmful. They irritate the skin, eyes and lungs as well. When combined with numerous chemicals, the amalgamation can produce nitrosamines, a well-recognised carcinogen. Apart from cancer, this deadly combination can cause a long-lasting impact on the lungs and kidneys.
Most soaps contain triclosan found in deodorants, perfumes and toothpaste. It is an antimicrobial chemical that interferes with the normal functioning of the body’s endocrine system, including thyroid and reproductive hormones. It can cause serious imbalances in the body and make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This is a future health concern and should not be taken lightly.
Benefits of eco-friendly soaps
Now that we have listed all the harmful impacts of common soaps on our environment and human health, let us see why we should choose eco-friendly options.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation stated that by 2050 there would be one piece of plastic for every fish in the ocean. This is alarming as this is a serious threat to our marine life. Also, most soaps come in plastic bottles that may or may not be recycled. Opting for eco-friendly soaps means you are preventing plastic pollution since eco-friendly soaps come in sustainable packaging such as recyclable paper wraps and small paper or cardboard boxes.
Chemical-free and gentle
Normal soaps have chemicals, and they break the surface tension of water. When water tension is lower, it decreases the oxygen levels in the water, creating an oxygen deficit that adversely impacts fish and other marine life. Phosphates in soaps or even cleaning agents and detergents can lead to algal blooms that deplete oxygen and release toxins, severely affecting the aquatic ecosystem.
Eco-friendly soaps are free from chemicals and made from natural plant or oil-based ingredients that are sustainable, biodegradable and do not disrupt the functioning of the earth’s ecosystem after going down the drains.
Normal soaps contain many additives, one such being formaldehyde that can cause allergies and skin rashes. While an eco-friendly soap is not only perfect for those with sensitive skin, it is best for those who want naturally glowing, beautiful and plump skin. It prevents skin tears and hydrates naturally, eliminating harmful chemicals.
Common soaps smell great from the use of Phthalates or “plasticisers” that are used to create long-lasting scents. Eco-friendly soaps do not have a strong smell, and it does not last long as well, but it is natural, organic, and fragrant. Also, instead of standard smells, eco-friendly soaps have unique smells derived from nature, essential oils and plants and flowers extractions. Some eco-friendly soaps come in smells like lavender, peppermint, cocoa butter, and vanilla.
Prevent animal cruelty
Even if your soap mentions “vegan” or “cruelty-free”, you can’t be sure that animals were not harmed for its production. Most products are lab tested on animals which are extremely inhumane. However, on the other hand, all eco-friendly products, including eco-friendly soaps, are vegan and cruelty-free for real. These are sustainable soaps that do not have any side effects as well.
Eco-friendly soaps are also not very expensive. They won’t cost you more than $10. They also last longer than liquid body washes and soaps. You can buy a month’s supply to get additional discounts from sustainable brands. Most eco-friendly bar soaps are also suitable for washing your hair since they are mild on the scalp. Hence, they are multi-functional.
Paraben-free and sustainable
Eco-friendly soaps are paraben-free and do not cause any harm to the skin or the environment. They are truly sustainable.
Usual soaps are made of palm oil. It harms the environment as palm oil production is a cause of deforestation. Forests and trees are destroyed to grow oil palms. As forests are destroyed, the wild flora and fauna get affected, including endangered species like orangutans, rhinos, tigers etc. Deforestation also causes pollution and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Hence, it isn’t easy to know whether palm oil was produced sustainably or not, so it is best to avoid soaps with palm oil in them. Eco-friendly soaps are palm-oil free and made from plant-based essential oils produced sustainably by organic agriculture.
How to make eco-friendly soap?
Choose the soap base
Usually, lye is used as a soap base, but it is not exactly non-toxic. It can cause skin allergies and reactions. Instead of lye, you can use eco-friendly soap bases such as glycerin, shea butter, Aloe Vera, cocoa butter, and olive oil melt and pour soap base.
Decide on the fragrance
Any fragrance or natural smell can be used for making soaps. Natural fragrances do not last long but are better for the skin. You can go for mild orange and lavender essential oil or any other fruity or flowery fragrance.
Adding natural additives
Natural additives add a beautiful colour and texture to the soap and make it even more appealing. You can add Micas for colour pigments and even dried flowers, petals or leaves of herbs and make a herbal soap! You can go for everyone’s favourite lavender or rose or anything you like.
Choosing the mould
Choosing a good mould is important to make your soap look like an actual one. While rectangular moulds are an all-rounder, you can go for elegant oval or circular moulds.
Follow these steps to make a perfect melt and pour soap
- Use a microwave or keep a boiling water pan on the stove and place the soap base in a heat-resistant bowl and heat till it melts completely. If using the microwave, heat in 30-second intervals. After it has melted, then take it out in a measuring cup or any large bowl to add other ingredients.
- If you want a heavily-scented soap then add more fragrance of your choice, if less fragrant, then add the fragrance accordingly. While adding the fragrance, pour and stir continuously.
- After you have added the fragrances, you can add your dried botanicals such as leaves or flower petals. If you are using Micas the measurement should be around 1/32 teaspoon for an 8oz base.
- Now pour it into the mould nicely and smoothly.
- Now leave your soap to cure. One thing about the melt and pour method is that the melt and pour soap technique is shorter than the traditional soap making process. It is advised to let the soap cure for a minimum of 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, take it out of the mould and your eco-friendly soap is ready to be used!
To sum up
Eco-friendly soaps are fast becoming popular for their skin-replenishing properties and their gentle way of dealing with the skin compared to harmful chemicals. They also make a perfect gift for friends and family. You can explore many sustainable soap brands that allow customers to customise their soaps at reasonable rates. The choice is yours, Happy soapmaking! You can follow these steps and make your soap.