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Natural Soap, Tradition, History, Benefits

Once upon a time in the ancient Babylon people created the first soap by mixing animal fats with wood ash and water. It happened about six thousand years ago. Ancient Greeks and Romans also knew how to make healthy soap by mixing oils & salts. Centuries ago, Soap was traditionally made in the Middle East, South Europe, Mediterranean countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Croatia. Olive oil has been commonly used in making soaps, which makes the mildest, gentle soap to use for sensitive skin and children. Castile Soap or Olive oil soap is named after Spanish province Castile where soap maker used one single oil (100% olive oil) in soap formula.

The skin is the largest organ capable of absorbing over 60% of everything we apply on the skin. Some parts of our body absorb 100% of products we apply. What goes on the skin enters the body’s blood stream, lymphatic system, and all organs. It is well known that we can cure and maintain the health of the body through the skin. Think about nicotine patches and other medicaments that are applied as skin patches. The oils and other ingredients used for making soaps should be of a good quality and purity.  

The problem started between the years 1960 and 1970 with a booming industry and experiments that were made with dangerous chemicals. Industrial mass production incorporates harsh chemicals and detergents as a substitute for natural oil and plants. Unfortunately, over the years and with the greed of mass production, people have been destroying planet earth as well as their own well-being. This trend continues and each of us should do something to improve the health of our planet, wild animals, plants, and humans.

Natural Soap makers, today, usually make soaps with natural and mostly food grade ingredients. The scents of Natural soaps should be truly the scent from nature in the form of essential oils. A fragrance, that some soap makers use, is lab made, less expensive alternative to essential oils. The fragrance is not natural; it is an artificial substance often containing chemicals. If something smells too strong, most probably it is not natural. It is healthier to use a fragrance-free soap or natural soap enhanced with essential oils. Aromatherapy through soap is beneficial for human body and mind. Nature is full of colors. Soap colorants should be natural, too. There is a choice of natural colors for soap in the form of clays, minerals, and plant extracts. Also, some oils provide such a beautiful colour to the soap. Some soap makers use artificial colorants to make soaps more attractive. If the colour of the soap is too strong or unusual, most probably it is not natural.

Natural soap contains glycerin and it is alkaline. Soap is made when fats or oils are mixed with an alkali solution. The triglyceride from oils/fats is split into glycerol and fatty acids. Saponification is the chemical reaction when the fatty acids are mixed with a strong base or alkali (such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide), creating a salt of the fatty acid, what we commonly refer to as soap.  Free glycerin is by-product produced during the process of saponification. Natural soaps generally have a PH that is slightly alkaline, which makes it a good cleanser, but also moisturize and nourish skin. A PH higher than 7 is basic or alkaline. PH level below 7 is acidic. Naturally made soap is alkaline with a PH between 9-10. This PH level helps to gently clean the skin. The benefits to bath with alkaline water are well known. Many dermatology studies have shown that after being washed with soap that contains natural oils and glycerin, free fatty acids help skin recover it’s natural PH balance faster.  

In comparison, commercial companies remove the natural glycerin and add synthetic ingredients, chemical preservatives to increase the shelf life of the product. Many of these synthetic additives strip the skin protective layer and prevent it from managing its own PH balance. These chemicals and additives can cause at least sensitivity, dryness and allergic reactions when penetrate the surface of the skin.

Fortunately, we have a choice to use natural soaps. There are many different techniques when making the soap. The ultimate products are either hard soap bars or liquid. The cold process of making the soap bars is highly creative, allowing us to formulate soaps with many different oils. Natural carrier oils are beneficial by itself and in synergy with other ingredients provide even more health benefits. Clays provide silkiness and deep cleansing. Famous de-tox with active charcoal is best utilized in soap. The production of soap by using cold process method requires curing time of the soaps for 4-6 weeks before using it. Soft soaps or liquid soaps are made in the process of cooking. There are a couple of different methods when making the liquid soap: the paste method, the no paste method, gels, and jellies.

There are numerous benefits of using natural soaps. It is clean and safe for the environment. Glycerin that remains naturally in the soap moisturize skin while alkaline level contributes to proper cleansing with antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Aromatherapy with soaps is beneficial on spiritual, physical, and mental level of the body.

 Enjoy your healthy lifestyle when living in harmony with Nature!