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Where is all the knowledge we lost with information? -
T. S. Eliot
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The Definition of Soap

According to Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, soap is

1 : a cleansing and emulsifying agent made usually by action of alkali on fat or fatty acids and consisting essentially of sodium or potassium salts of such acids

2 : a salt of a fatty acid and a metal

In other words , soap is the result of a chemical reaction between an acid (the fats and oils) and a base (a solution of sodium hydroxide and water, also known as lye). The result of a reaction between a base and an acid is a salt. Therefore, soap is a salt. This reaction is called saponification, it takes place when the fats and oils and the lye solution are mixed together and react, they are saponifying, or making soap and glycerin. In our handmade natural soap, soap and glycerin exist together in the finished product. The presence of glycerin, which is a gentle humectant (retains moisture), is one of the main differences between natural soaps and soaps industrially made.

The Cleansing Action of Soap

Every soap molecule is arranged with a distinct head and tail. The head is drawn to oil and the tail is drawn to water, by rubbing soap on our skin, the head attaches to the grime and grease, while the tail combines with water, permitting the dirt to be washed away. The result of soap dissolving in water and combining with oxygen in the air, provides us with the most popular characteristic of soap, the lather.

A Brief History of Soap

Soap was originally made from animal fats and potash (wood or seaweed ashes steeped in water) and was mainly used for fabrics. Castile soap (a name used in English speaking countries for soaps made only from olive oils, instead of animal fat) was later produced in the Castile region of Spain. This has traditionally been manufactured in Europe since the early 1600's. With the increased awareness for maintaining good health and cleanliness, the commercial manufacturing of soap began in the late 1800's.

Industrial Soap

Due to the weak rules and regulations set out by the governmental bureau's for personal care products (including shampoo, makeup, lotions etc), it is not illegal for companies to include ingredients that are known or suspected to be carcinogens (cancer causing agents), mutagens (chemical agents that increase the rate of genetic mutation) or reproductive toxins (chemicals that can damage the reproductive systems in both men and women) in their products.

The industrial process for manufacturing soap is unfortunately more concerned with mass production and profits, rather than being devoted to the health of skin and the environment.

The ingredients are picked based on their cost, rather than their cleaning or therapeutic values. The majority of industrial soap, these days, are made from food industry waste taken from the meat industry.

The glycerin is removed as the fatty acids are being produced, and sold for other purposes. The natural fats no longer have the vitamins and proteins they started with.

The soap is then ground into a paste, then synthetic ingredients such as perfumes, colors, sudsing agents and lubricants are added. Many skin problems are actually caused by these additives.

Amazingly enough these products can still be called soap, even though they are actually detergents.

Unfortunately, we have all purchased these products without questioning their safety. Learn about ingredients, read ingredients lists.

Natural Soap Made Industrially

In the last couple of decades we have seen an overwhelming amount of natural skin care products pop up on the market. They are available in health food stores, grocery stores and discount stores.

But beware - by reading the ingredients on the label, you will notice that there is most often no difference between the so called natural products and the industrial products. Because there are no restrictions on the word "natural" in marketing, advertising as a natural product can be misleading. The products may contain a tiny trace of natural ingredients but they are in no way a natural product.

The Truth About Lye

Lye is a mixture of water and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) . The lye in soap is responsible for joining the oils and water together, creating soap molecules during saponification (converting ingredients into soap). If soap does not contain Lye (or an equally caustic substance) it is not a true soap, it is a detergent. If lye was not an ingredient, we would be left with just water & oil. Lye becomes neutral in soap during the curing (drying) process, which is a minimum of 4 weeks. Our bars are cured for 6 - 8 weeks, at this time there is absolutely no trace of lye left.

Our Hand Made Natural Soap

Three Little Birds natural soap making consists of high quality ingredients which condition your skin directly from nature. They will contain no chemicals, no preservatives, no perfumes, no synthetic fragrances, no dyes no minerals or synthetic colouring. The oils used are from vegetables, not animal fats. Natural scents are derived from essential oils (natural fragrance extracted from plants). Natural colourants are obtained from plant materials (spices, seeds, flowers) and clays. Flowers, herbs and flours are added to enrich the quality, as well as the texture. The presence of natural glycerin, which is a gentle humectant (draws moisture to the skin), is evident in every bar.

Caring For Your Hand Made Natural Soap Bar

To prolong the life of your hand made natural soap bar, keep it high and dry with a raised soap saver. This will allow air to circulate around and dry the entire bar, a soap saver will also prevent your natural soap from absorbing water. Try to keep your natural soap dry between uses, if the same bar is used often and unable to dry, we recommend that you wet your hands, then rub them on the already wet soap. This will be beneficial to your soap rather than running it under water repeatedly. If your natural soap is left to sit in and absorb water it will become very soft and mushy and will not be as pleasant to use or last as long. When your hand made natural soap is at it's end, either press onto another bar of soap or place in a soap bag to use every little bit right to the very end.


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Check out this video, a brief description of our natural soap making process.

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Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.