Soap…..Solid Bars or Liquid Body Wash?

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Liquid Soap Is Good, Isn’t it?

I was asked recently whether or not we made liquid soap, we don’t at the moment but we are always keen on exploring new ideas, prior to expanding our product range we always carry out as much research as possible into the pros and cons of our ideas. After spending a lot of time looking into liquid soap I was surprised at what I learnt and thought it would be interesting to share our findings with you.

The ingredients and process for making liquid soap are relatively similar to how we make our solid soap bars, the major difference between bar soaps and liquid soaps is the alkali used to saponify the oils. All soap, whether hard or liquid, starts with a simple chemical reaction between oils and an alkali.

PH Scale

I remember as a kid my older brother, parents and I all using the same bar of soap, after a while the hard bar of soap we all used was replaced by liquid soap. A lot of people swapped from a hard bar of soap to liquid soap because they were led to believe that there was lots of nasty bacteria lurking on bars of soap.

Companies even encouraged the fact that using a liquid soap was more hygienic.

An article in the New York Times asked “does each member of the family need an individual bar of soap to prevent spreading germs, or do we have to switch to liquid soap?

It states that studies found that washing even with contaminated bar soap is unlikely to transfer bacteria, especially if the bar gets rinsed off between uses. It continues: “… soap bars were inoculated with E. coli and P. aeruginosa bacteria at levels 70 times as high as those reported on used soap bars. Then, 16 panelists were told to wash their hands as usual with the inoculated bar.

After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands,” the researchers wrote. “These findings, along with other published reports, show that little hazard exists in routine hand washing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for hand washing.”

So how can a bar of soap have bacteria on it and yet It not spread germs?

Simple… When you lather up, the oil attracting part of the soap picks up grease and oils on your skin. When you rinse, the water attracting part coats the soap letting you rinse the soap molecules — and their attached impurities away.

Good Or Bad?

This leads us to the next question “if liquid body / hand wash provides no hygiene benefit, why have companies spent so much on marketing them?”

Manufacturers often claim an advantage of liquid body wash is “Added Moisturisers” and that solid bars of soap are thought to be harsh and drying to the skin.

Our handmade soaps are full of natural oils and moisture retaining glycerin and are actually really gentle and mild on the skin.

So….if there are no stand out advantages to liquid washes are there any disadvantages? – Turns out there are quite a few.

Using liquid body wash involves a lot of guesswork as to the right amount to use, a lot of people end up using more than twice what they need to. Because of the added moisturisers in liquid soap it takes longer to wash off.  Every extra minute in the shower results in another 19 litres of water going down the drain. With bar soap, it’s pretty easy to tell when you’ve got enough bubbles, so not only is a bar of soap more convenient it saves water!

Body washes are much heavier then small bars of soap therefore they have a much higher carbon footprint, packaging is usually made of plastic that ends up in a landfill. Our handmade soap has minimal packaging and the labels that we use are made from recycled card.

In order to remain thick, perfumed and coloured, a typical shower gel  / body wash must contain around 20 chemicals, some man-made, others derived from plants. It will have a couple of plant-based detergents, an array of perfumes, salt to thicken it, lactic acid (found in sour milk to counteract the alkali and make it pH- neutral), preservatives, agents that reduce static in human hair and natural plant extracts.

Our traditional handmade soaps are made using saponified plant oils – no hidden chemicals.

Coconut Rapeseed Olive Oil

In my opinion I believe that liquid body washes do not really provide any benefits to customers, they do however create huge profits for well known manufacturers and are tremendously harmful to the environment. Makes you think doesn’t it, so are you ready to switch back? Shop bar soaps.

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The Cotswold Soap Co.