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What Is Natural Bath Soap?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Images By: Cedrov, Samantha Grandy, M S, Adam Engelhart
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Natural bath soap is generally soap free of preservatives, additive chemicals, or artificial scents. These soaps almost always contain fats, such as oils, and a basic substance, such as lye or soda ash. Though these are the only required ingredients to make natural bath soap, most soap makers also include essential oils and ground spices for scent. Some also add things like milk, powdered clay, honey, and even green tea matcha powder. All of these ingredients allow soap makers to create dozens of different styles of soap.

Many soaps labeled 'natural' in grocery stores are not truly made of all-natural products. The term in these cases refers to some natural additions to the chemical soap. For instance, a soap infused with aloe vera and grapefruit essence may be labeled 'natural,' but actually contain artificial scents. Those looking for truly natural bath soap should always read the labels. This is especially important for those trying to avoid chemical allergens.

Small boutiques, holistic health shops, and online herb stores often sell both truly natural and partially natural bath soap. These places are not required to list their ingredients, but many do to attract customers interested in holistic products. Consumers looking for all-natural bath soap in smaller shops should typically avoid clear soaps. These are usually 'melt and pour' soaps made from glycerin soap bases. While the glycerin itself is naturally derived, chemical additives are typically mixed into it to form it into a solid.

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Those that want to know for certain that their soap is entirely natural might try making some at home. This process usually involves mixing together a mixture of warmed oils, lye or soda ash, water, and essential oils. The ingredients in a soap recipe must be carefully measured by weight, not by volume. Each ingredient features a different density that must be mixed in proportion with the other ingredients. Otherwise, one might produce an oily or squishy soap.

Working with caustic substances can be hazardous, but doesn’t usually end in disaster as long as the substances are handled properly. For instance, when mixing soda ash or lye into water, always pour the basic substance into the water. Do not pour the water into the basic substance, as this could cause a small explosion. The same goes for pouring the basic solution into the fats: always pour the solution into the fats, never pour the fats into the solution.

Both granules, lye and soda ash are by products of wood fires, making them acceptable ingredients for natural bath soap. Fats that work well include almost any kind of natural oils, including olive, nut oils, jojoba, coconut, and grapeseed. Essential oils used in natural bath soap should typically be organic. Non-organic oils might contain artificial scent enhancers or colorings. Some soap makers opt for using fresh, pulverized herbs in their soaps, which adds color and scent.

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