What is soap? What isn't soap?!

Posted by Anikaa Brown on

 Soap. We all think we know what is it. It's that stuff we bought at the grocery store all our lives, often in the cutesy little boxes wrapped together in larger packs. We've used it for so long now that of course we all know what is and isn't soap, right?! RIGHT? It's soap, how hard can it be? 

  Well, I hate to be the one to burst your soap bubble, but most of the 'soaps' you grew up using were likely not even actually soap! Instead, most of those 'soaps' were likely synthetic detergent, or 'syndet' bars! That's right, those bars from the grocery store don't even typically meet the legal definition of soap enough to call and label them selves as soap on the packaging. A synthetic detergent is a synthetic surfactant that has all sorts of uses even outside the scope of getting one's own body clean; a syndet can be useful in washing clothes, as a fuel additive, for cleaning plastics, dishwasher detergent, and more.

  That's not to say syndets are unsafe, but they certainly aren't pure soap. They can actually be useful in helping create a higher level of foam/lather than a traditional soap bar, being more soluble in hard water, and could even be more ph neutral than soap too. They can also be more expensive than real soap, can leave behind an oily film containing the dirt and grime it just removed from your skin, can limit the colors/designs used in producing the 'soap' you want to use, can be more difficult to make with a much wider range of chemicals used in production, and typically have a wider range of additives than actual soap too.

  So what is actual soap then? As per the FDA, 'To be regulated as “soap,” the product must be composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids,” that is, the end product is the material you get when you combine fats and/or oils with an alkali. That means only the oils and the alkali that we add directly into our bars of real, actual soap here at Full Moon Gardens are what causes the cleansing action when you use them. When we combine such skin friendly oils as olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and more, with directly an alkali, such as the sodium hydroxide used in our bars, we get to directly control the type of reaction happening when the soap batter goes through its saponification process on it's way to becoming your bar of soap. We can also control how much of that oil is leftover in the bar that doesn't interact with the alkali but will be 'free floating' at the end of that process to produce even more awesome benefits when directly applied to your skin with every use.


  Did you also know that soap is only a cleansing agent? Soap can get dirt off your skin, but it can't treat or cure any diseases, like eczema, acne, act as a sunscreen, cure your dermatitis, reduce cellulite, treat varicose vein, regenerate skin cells, but it can't do anything else but get you clean. Anything that claims to treat or cure a specific disease or condition is a drug, which is regulated and tested through the FDA, and is certainly not a soap! Be wary of at home sellers claiming their soap has drug benefits, as this simply is not true. True soap, made through the saponification process, contains no left over lye in the product and is safe to use even on sensitive skin or a baby's soft and delicate skin. 

  Some soaps may have special additives or leftover oils when done saponifying that help them moisturize or nourish, or may make them more suitable for certain skin types and sensitive skin. These are considered cosmetic claims and are also regulated by the FDA , but not quite in the same strict and controlled fashion as drugs and drug claims are regulated. 

  When you decide to purchase small batch, hand crafted, or homemade soaps, you now know a little but more what you are looking at when you review a brand's label. A true soap doesn't even have to list the ingredients used in making that soap, though many suppliers like ourselves like to list them for you for allergen and general knowledge purposes. We find it incredibly important to be familiar with and in the know about what you are rubbing on your skin and sharing with your family. We sincerely hope you appreciate that you can find all of that information on both the product listing page and a separate ingredient label for every product sold here at Full Moon Gardens as well.

  We'd highly suggest being wary of any vendor that claims their simple soap can cure or treat any specific condition and that it acts as a drug. A quality bar of soap may help those people that are afflicted with certain conditions or help treat their symptoms by using a good mix of the right ingredients, but can never cure or treat a specific medical condition. Now you too understand the basic why's behind that and how the synthetic detergents you likely grew up with aren't quite actual soap either! Take a look at the labeling the next time you are in the grocery store, or even buying a dish detergent to clean your dishes with and see what types of detergents are added to your every day household products!



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published