Carbolic soap is a mild disinfectant soap that contains carbolic acid, a compound that is extracted from coal tar. This soap was once the disinfectant of choice in operating rooms and private homes alike, and it still can be found in some regions of the world. Several companies manufacture carbolic soap as a reasonably cheap disinfectant, and some people like to use this soap out of a sense of nostalgia or a genuine liking for it.
As a disinfectant, this type of soap is a reasonably good choice, especially when the options are limited. It can be used by healthcare professionals to wash their hands between patients in a clinic, for example, or as a regular showering soap, although users should keep it away from the sensitive skin around their faces. Some people also find that this soap is effective against stubborn grease and embedded dirt, making it especially popular with mechanics. Carbolic soap also can be used to do laundry and scrub floors, and a few companies sell versions that have been formulated for these tougher tasks.
Can Be an Irritant
One of the distinctive features of this soap is its pink to red color, which is caused by the carbolic acid. Carbolic acid is actually used in a range of products, and in pure form, it can be a mild irritant. People who use a great deal of carbolic soap might find that their skin becomes irritated as a result of the prolonged contact; this is one of the reasons why this soap has been displaced in hospitals by more effective, gentle disinfectants.
The scent of carbolic soap is quite distinctive. Many people say that it reminds them of leather, and people who have been using the soap for years might find the smell to be quite nostalgic. The smell also is a feature in many medical memoirs, with authors remembering the smell of carbolic soap in operating rooms and hospitals.
Where to Find It
One place where carbolic soap has continued to be popular and readily available is in the Caribbean, especially in places like Jamaica. The soap can be found in drugstores and hardware stores in that region of the world, and it is a ubiquitous feature in private homes and businesses. Anyone who wants to buy carbolic soap but has difficulty finding it in stores should look online, where it can be ordered from several websites.