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Grandma's Soapdish & Sundries, LLC
Making Quality Organic Soaps in Connecticut Since 1998
email: diane@grandmassoapdish.com

Brook Brook Brook


The chart below will be an eye opener for the consumer. All "soap" is not created equal. The list under each of the four types of soap categories, will list ingredients from natural, to synthetic. As you will see, there is only one type of soap that is really "all natural"; homemade soap withOUT synthetics. Where do you want to spend your money ? Whatever your choice, be a fully informed consumer.

For the purposes of this article, we will presuppose that the two types of handmade soap are made with vegetable oils as a base. Some soapmakers do use animal fats in their soap recipes, which are more harsh and drying to the skin, as well as being more likely to clog the skin's pores. Remember: whatever you put on your skin, gets absorbed into your skin which is the largest organ of your body. Treat your skin with only the best quality; you deserve it.

Further, the three main methods of making handcrafted soap from scratch (not melt-and-pour glycerin) are: cold process, hot process, and cold process oven process. I will address these methods after the chart listed here, so be sure to keep reading !

Caveat: This article is intended to point out the facts. It is understood that folks who make soap are going to have their favorite methods and that is their choice. However, that doesn't mean that it's the highest quality or what the consumer is looking for, if they knew the difference about what they are buying. Caveat Emptor. Buying handcrafted soap is not inexpensive; be an educated consumer and get the best value and quality for your money.


  • vegetable oils
  • butters
  • retains the natural glycerin formed when it's made
  • natural essential oils from plants
  • alkali, also called "lye"; sodium hyroxide (makes solid soap)
  • alkali, also called "lye"; potassium hydroxide (makes liquid soap)
  • note: lye catalyzes the reaction of fat into soap; no lye remains in soap
  • distilled water
  • herbs
  • grains
  • fruit seeds
  • vegetable loofah
  • clays
  • spices
  • fruit or vegetables & their juices
  • pumice
  • milks: goatsmilk, coconut milk, cow milk, etc
  • a few other natural options
  • has a pH level that is complementary to healthy skin pH; very slightly alkaline
  • soap is superior in texture, moisturizing properties and cleaning ability
  • the above ingredients offer nutrients, not chemicals, to your skin and are truly NATURAL soap

  • vegetable oils
  • butters
  • alkali, also called "lye"; sodium hyroxide (makes solid soap)
  • alkali, also called "lye"; potassium hydroxide (makes liquid soap)
  • note: lye catalyzes the reaction of fat into soap; no lye remains in soap
  • distilled water
  • synthetic, chemical colorants
  • synthetic, chemical scents: "fragrance oils"
  • synthetic colors: Mica (combined with pigments or dyes)
  • F, D & C dyes
  • inorganic pigments
  • Ultramarines and oxides
  • added glycerin, which is likely to contain synthetics
  • there are additional synthetics that can be introduced into soap that's 'made from scratch', but this list gives you an idea that what you see may not be what you want to get

  • glycerin is a natural, good by-product of saponification (real soapmaking)
  • natural additives may be used
  • glycerin does act as a humectant; drawing moisture to the skin
  • glycerin does act as a skin softener
  • synthetic, chemical additives may be used
  • quality of glycerin used for 'soap' varies widely
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Sorbitol
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Stearate
  • Sodium Myristate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
  • Triethanolamine
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Sodium Stearate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isothionate
  • Disodium EDTA
  • glycerin is not 'soap', it is a by-product of genuine soap, precipitated out for other use
  • many more synthetics are used in various brands of glycerin 'soap'
  • as you can see, the spectrum of how natural vs. synthetic a glycerin 'soap' may be, isn't necessarily evident just by looking at it.

  • frequently contains lard; animal fat, known to be drying and clog pores
  • for commercial soaps claiming luxurious additives I would ask at what percent?
  • use chemical preservatives
  • SLS - sodium lauryl sulfate
  • petroleum products
  • proplylene glycol
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • esters (known carcinogenics)
  • drying alcohols
  • low grade oils (cheap stuff)
  • synthetic fillers/binders
  • synthetic colorants
  • synthetic scents
  • read the label of commercial detergents & the numerous chemicals; more than I'm listing
  • some commercial soaps do contain some beneficial ingredients
  • commercial soap isn't even soap at all; it's detergent, and it's not natural
Glycerin is a by-product of the soap-making process. Large soap manufacturers often remove the glycerin and sell it as a by-product; however, home made soaps contain all the natural glycerin produced during saponification, making them more moisturizing.

Is your soap really soap or is it detergent? Look at the label on your bar of commercial soap. Is it called "soap" on the label, or is it a “beauty bar,” “cleansing bar,” or “deodorizing bar?” If it does not say "soap" then it is not really soap. Many commercial brands are not called soap because by law they cannot be - they are DETERGENTS. Most products you think of as soap are actually detergents. Detergent is good for one thing--removing oils. Detergent is great when you are cleaning laundry or dishes, but NOT when you are cleaning your skin! Detergent bars strip the natural moisturizing oils from your skin. So after you take a bath or shower with commercial soap you reach for that bottle of expensive lotion, to put back the moisture that was taken away by the commercial soap.

What is soap?
Soap is created in a chemical reaction between oils and fats (fatty acids) and a strong base (caustic alkali) in a process called saponification. The resulting alkali salt of a fatty acid is what we non-chemists call "soap". Soap has cleaning properties. Specifically, it is surfactant, which means it reduces water tension allowing water to spread more freely across a surface. And soap functions to loosen, disperse in water (emulsify) and hold soil in suspension until it can be rinsed away.

Saponification, then, is the chemical reaction between triglyceride and sodium hydroxide- the strong base used for manufacture of solid soaps- that produces soap and a by-product, glycerin.

Essential Oils Have Health Benefits
Grandma's handmade soap with pure essential oils offers the therapeutic properties for which essential oils are renowned. Amost all of the soaps list the essential oils used in them. A few soaps contain high quality fragrance oils. Either way, the ingredients are listed for each bar of soap for your convenience.

copyright 2017 Grandma's Soapdish & Sundries, LLC