Sodium Hydroxide in Natural Soap
Recently we received an email from a concerned Moon Haven client ...she had just realised that we used Sodium Hydroxide in our soap... and was concerned that our soap was too harsh for use on people with sensitve skin.
Here is our answer... Warning it is quite long but well worth the read if you are interested in why Natural Cold Process Soap is actually great for your skin!
All soap is made with Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium Hydroxide.. also known as Caustic Soda or lye... is an integral ingredient in natural, cold process soap making.
You will find that all natural, cold process soap must be made with sodium hydroxide– which is derived from sea water (or potassium hydroxide for ‘naturally derived’ liquid soaps) to convert the long chain fatty acids of the botanical oils we use, into soap.
If there is no encounter at some point in the production process, with either of these two strong alkalais then a product could not be called a soap.. it would consist of synthetic ingredients and be classifed as a synet cleanser ( that is it has synthetic ingedients like sodium lauryl sulphate included)
The process we use at Moon Haven has long been used from ancient days when soap was first made by mixing animal fats from cooking with water that had been run through the ashes of the cooking fire.
In fact there is no soap or cleanser available that could be classed as more ‘natural’ than cold process soap. It contains no sodium lauryl sulphate or other detergents,
We make a range of soap - have soaps that are completely uncoloured and unscented, soap that contains with clays, herbs, honey, oat extracts, essential oils. We also make a limited range of soap with non-natural colours and fragrance oils for those of our clients who want this type of soap.
The soapmaking equation:
The equation for the reaction undertaken when we mix these ingredients together to make soap is:
Strong alkali (sodium hydroxide) + water + vegetable oils and fats converts to glycerine +heat + soap (a sodium salt)
In the final soap there is no sodium hydroxide left – it has all been consumed in the soap making process and converted to glycerine and soap.
It is a bit like using sodium bicarbonate (Baking soda) in a cake to convert into carbon dioxide when mixed in a cake – in the final cake there is no sodium carbonate left as it has all been converted into carbon dioxide to make the cake rise.
At some point all ‘natural soaps must have had to convert the botanical oils into soap by mixing with a strong alkali (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide). Even the so called ‘glycerine’ clear soaps have initially used sodium hydroxide to convert the fats and oils used into soap. The resulting product is then treated with alcohol and sugars to make it transparent and readily able to be re-melted and poured into moulds
Cold Process Soap for skin issues:
Now regarding using cold process soap for people with skin issues…this is something we have been effectively recommending for over 10 years with fantastic results.
Here are 2 emails we have recently received regarding our treatments and use of cold process soap in a treatment regime for eczema, acne etc. I have many more emails and handwritten notes letting us know of the great results people are getting using our soap.
What people are telling us:
Received 25 April 2010
I have been using moon haven products for my eczema for a long time and swear by them. I have a 13 year old daughter who unfortunately went through puberty very early and developed hormonal acne. We have tried everything and we have spent a lot of money with no success. She is constantly aware of her skin and is teased relentlessly. Her self esteem is not very positive because of this.
4 weeks ago I took her to the shop in Cowaramup and the lady there recommended the goats milk soap, moisturising facial scrub and natures own moisture lotion. We were given samples to try so I didn't have to spend more money on something that might not work, but it did and we have now purchased the products. She is eager to use the products as she can see the dramatic results.
My daughter's face has cleared up and she is smiling again. She said, "I am so happy now. I have been sad for a long time and now people wont tease me."
Thank you for making my baby smile again.
Received 8 April 2010
I have been using Moon Haven products for many years as I found it was the only soap that did not give my eczema-prone daughter dry, irritated skin.
She will not use anything else and it has filtered through to the rest of the family. My sister used to get me to send "care packages" of your soaps to her while she was working overseas. I use your Achy-Breaky rub whenever I have aches and pains and my daughter uses the Calendula Salve if she gets a skin outbreak.
I look forward to a long and happy relationship with Moon Haven.
Why Moon Haven's Cold Process Soap is so good for the skin:
The reason that we recommend the use of our cold process soaps in these treatment regimes is because of two things:
Our soaps contain a large amount of glycerine which has been produced during the soap making process. Naturally formed glycerine is highly moisturising – (it’s a humecatant) and buffers the drying effects of the soap component of the soap itself while still delivering a mild cleansing action. You will find that many of the supermarket soaps and synthetic soaps available have some glycerine added back into the bars to help make them gentler on the skin. Cold process soaps still contain significantly higher levels of glycerine than these bars .
We add in extra oils (olive, rice bran oils etc) to ‘superfat’ our soap so that there is more oil in the soap than is consumed in the soap making process. This means that there is a small amount of free oil left in the soap to convert into a moisturiser when the soap comes into contact with water and skin.
Having said this we still recommend that all cleansers be used in small quantities in people with dry and irritated skin. As the role of cleansers is to remove oil and dirt from the skin it is important that we only use them when it is required for cleansing.
I hope this information helps you understand our position further and that you can see why we do what we do.
If you have any questions of would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me…as I really do believe in what we do and why we do it.
Leonie of moon haven
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