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Today we’ll talk about so-called natural liquid hand soap. First, let’s talk about the term, “natural.” What does that even mean? The term “natural” is not legally regulated, so any manufacturer can claim that their products are natural. Keep in mind that petroleum is natural, but I don’t want to rub it into my skin.
That pet peeve out of the way, let’s talk about how liquid hand soap is made. I think that it is helpful to understand how hand soaps are made so you can make informed choices. Let me give you a digest version of the liquid hand soap industry.
There are two types of hand soaps.
Hand Washing Detergents: These hand washes are made with synthetic surfactants often derived either from petroleum or coconut oil. Coconut oil is a step in the right direction! However, keep in mind that surfactants are made in a multi-step derivation process with many other chemicals added along the way. For example, Cocamide DEA is a carcinogen, even though it is a surfactant derived from coconut oil. Not all surfactants are known to be harmful, but almost all surfactants lack sufficient health data or environmental data, so we really just don’t know.
Examples of hand washing detergents (or so-called “natural” liquid hand soaps): Mrs. Meyers, Method, EO
Saponified Oil Soap: This is how soap has been made traditionally. It is a one-step process where an alkali is reacted with a plant oil. The alkali is called potassium hydroxide (if the soap is liquid) and does not remain in the final product. This liquid hand soap is safe for people and the environment. I recommend using saponified oil soap!
Natural Liquid Hand Soap: Dr. Bronner’s
Have you heard of Dr. Bronner’s? If you shop at Whole Foods or other health grocery stores, chances are that you have seen it in both the bulk section and on the shelves. But have you thought about using it as a liquid hand soap?
I love the fact that the oils used to make this soap are organic and fair trade. There are 5 oils used are:
- Organic Coconut Oil,
- Organic Palm Kernel Oil,
- Organic Olive Oil,
- Organic Hemp Oil,
- Organic Jojoba Oil,
Yes, Dr. Bronner’s has recently added palm oil. At first, I was disappointed to hear that. Later, I learned that Dr. Bronner’s work directly with family farmers in Ghana, assuring fair practices to people and the environment. Read more about that here.
Dr. Bronner’s hand soap comes in many scents as well as unscented. They are scented with plant extracts or essential oil – no synthetic fragrance here with undisclosed and potentially harmful ingredients.
You can buy this liquid hand soap in many health grocery stores, on the Dr. Bronner’s website and Amazon. They come in different sizes from 2 oz to 1 gallon.
Here is something very important. The crucial part of turning this multifunctional soap into great liquid hand soap is to use a foaming dispenser (here is a good one). That way you won’t get squirted with a lot more soap than you need, and you can use it economically. The soap is concentrated so you can dilute it as much as 5 times. Make sure to use boiling water and used up the soap within 2 weeks to prevent mold or bacteria growth.
What hand soap do you use? About a year ago, we switched to bar soap. And we love it! It would have been hard to use bar soap with one hand in the days when my son was a baby and lots of things had to be done with one hand.
Are you curious about bar soap?
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