What Classifies Soap as Being “All-Natural”?

Nat·u·ral:
existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

Many soapmakers use the term “all-natural soap” as it denotes that their soap has been made with “all-natural” ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, etc. Some will use essential oils and/or fragrance oil as well.
Lavender Patchouli Orange Soap

Lavender Patchouli Orange Soap

 Some soapmakers that use fragrance oils will state that their soap is still “all-natural” because of the base oils and butters they use.
 
At Head 2 Toe the only products I claim are “all-natural” are the products that use only essential oils and natural colourants – like herbs, clays, seeds or plant material.  I do however, still use fragrance oils because I like the variety of scents.  I tend to use micas, oxides, and liquid colourants in the synthetically scented products and try different soaping techniques as I feel soaping is a creative outlet for me.
 
And what about Sodium Hydroxide or Lye?  Well, let’s get one thing straight – you absolutely NEED lye to get soap.  The oils and lye go through a process called saponification.  Please read my blog “No Lye = No Soap” if interested in the saponification process.
Black Licorice
Cedar & Saffron 
Anyways, the question here is if Sodium Hydroxide is “all-natural” or not.  Sodium hydroxide in its present form was not around throughout most of soap’s history.  The caustic alkalis used for soapmaking were potash from wood ashes, and various carbonates produced from the ashes of seaweeds and land plants. The soaps were harsh and soft, and rather unpleasant.  In the 1700’s an economical way was discovered to make sodium hydroxide. So technically lye or sodium hydroxide isn’t natural today as it is made in a factory, but I ask you: which one would you prefer?
soap montage
Keep in mind that my opinion of “all-natural” may be different than others. It is extremely important to note that “all-natural” isn’t necessarily better than “non-natural”. Poison Ivy is “all-natural” but you know better than to touch it or use it.  Some people think that one of the selling points of a natural product is that it only has things in it that you can pronounce, and they avoid products with chemical-sounding names. However, everything has a chemical name.  For example, salt is a chemical: sodium chloride.
 tops 1
“All-natural” became a marketing tool when it became clear that there was money to be made from people who wanted to purchase such products.  Unfortunately, some products that were far from natural were marketed to the public that weren’t really educating themselves.

 

 

 

 

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This post was written by Crystal Bonin

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