I have been reading a lot of concerns from a lot of people about the constant handwashing we are being encouraged to do and the reaction they are having, particularly on their hands.

People who have an auto-immune disease, skin issues, allergies and intolerances are reacting badly to soap!

But why?

Firstly, not all soap is created equal!

Just because a soap says “Handmade” does not mean it is safe or suitable for YOU.

Handmade soap can be just as damaging as store-bought commercial products, due to different additives (some totally natural) put into the soap during the soap-making process.

Here is what you need to know to ensure that you are choosing the correct soap for you!

1) Purchase soap from an experienced, reputable soap maker.

Just as not all soap is created equal, not all soap makers are created equal either!

An experienced soap-maker will ensure that their soap is made using a tried and (many times) tested recipe, developed with the aid of an accurate lye calculator, an accurate set of measuring scales and fresh, quality ingredients. Lye is an essential part of the soap making process. No lye = No soap. The finished product, however, should have NO LYE remaining.

If soap is burning your skin, there could be any number of reasons? But ONE of those reasons could be an excess of lye in the finished product.

Ask the soap-maker! What is their process? How do they ensure their soap is safe? As a cold process, 100% natural soap maker, I LOVE it when my customers engage me in this kind of conversation. I get an opportunity to educate.

2) Purchase from a licensed soap maker.

BUT, not all soap makers are required to be licenced, so it is good to understand that soap makers fall into 3 different categories;

Melt and Pour Soap – Soap is made from a pre-made base so the soap-maker adds colour and scent to create the finished product. If you ONLY create Melt and Pour Soap, in Australia you do not need to be licensed as the initial chemical reaction and subsequent saponification has already been done for you.

Cold Process Soap – The soap maker creates soap from mixing oils/fats and lye. This method utilises the heat reaction created from this combination to create saponification. In Australia, if you make Cold Process soap, you must be licenced with NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessments Scheme).

Hot Process Soap – The soap maker creates soap from mixing oils/fats and lye. However, an external heat source such as a slow cooker is used to accelerate saponification. In Australia, if you make Hot Process soap, you must be licenced with NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessments Scheme.

Don’t be afraid to ask a soap-maker if they are licenced.

I make Cold Process Soap only and my NICNAS Registration number is NIC1001654.

3) Read the ingredients.

Soap, under cosmetic labelling law, is required to be labelled correctly with the ingredients listed in order of the highest proportion to the lowest proportion. But be aware! Some ingredients that only appear in smaller proportions are not required to be on the label. So, if in doubt, ask the soap-maker!

4) Know what you react to.

If you are sensitive to essential oils or artificial fragrance or colours, be sure to avoid these and look for an uncoloured, un-fragranced/scented soap.

Which brings me to why 100% Olive Oil Soap could be the answer for YOU!

If the soap and the soap maker you purchase from tick all of these boxes, ask them if they make a Castile Soap? Castile Soap is a unique soap, in that it needs a 12-month cure time to become a hard bar of soap, ready for use.

Most soap is made from a mixture of hard oils (Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Tallow etc) and Soft Oils (Olive Oil, Apricot Oil, Avocado Oil etc). The combination of hard and soft oils generally means a 4-6 week cure time (the amount of time it takes for a bar of soap to complete the chemical process and be ready for use).

Castile Soap is made from 100% Olive Oil. A soft oil. Using 100% soft oils to make soap means a much longer cure time. So again, ask the soap-maker? How long has the Castile Soap been curing for? Between 6 and 12 months will give you a hard bar of soap that should last around one month. Anything less and your Castile Soap will become a slimy mess in the shower within a few uses.

I cure my Castile Soap for a full 12 months. Giving you a hard bar of pure Olive Oil Soap, with no added scent or colour. Unless you are allergic to Olive Oil, Castile Soap is the one!