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Natural Soap vs. Commercial Soap

What's the difference?

What is the difference between Commercial Soap & Natural Soap?

Is there really a difference between a bar of soap that is bought from the grocery store and let's say, a nice handmade bar that you bought from a local farmer's market? Well, if you have ever done just that then you know the answer is a resounding yes!

Commercial bar soaps generally are produced on a large scale with harsh chemicals, synthetic ingredients, and cheap perfumes or fragrances which all can cause irritation to your skin.

Furthermore, commercially available soaps in most cases isn't really soap at's a detergent. Detergents strip your skin of their natural oils which can leave your skin feeling dry and tight after a shower or bath. Natural, REAL soap on the other hand, that is acutally made with organic, plant based ingredients like Zen Soap, is created with an excess of plant oils in a process called "superfatting". This process along with the chemical reaction called "saponification" leaves a soap bar full of moisturizing, natural oils, and glycerin.

Glycerin is a humectant which draws moisture from the air to the skin creating a protective layer that helps prevent drying. Pair this with an excess of plant oils that are left over in the bar soap after saponification and you have an amazing, nourishing product.

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Just look at the ingredient list of this commercially available bar soap. This is a common ingredient deck for cheap grocery store soap.

  • sodium cocoyl isethionate (synthetic detergent)
  • stearic acid (hardener)
  • sodium tallowate (sodium salt of cow fat)
  • water sodium isethionate (detergent/emulsifying agent)
  • coconut acid (the sodium salt of coconut oil)
  • sodium stearate  (emulsifier, also used as a cheap stabilizer in plastics)
  • sodium dodecylbenzonesulfonate  (synthetic detergent)
  • fragrance (synthetic scent)
  • sodium chloride (table salt)
  • titanium dioxide (whitener)
  • trisodium EDTA (stabilizer, used in industrial cleaning products to decrease hard water)
  • trisodium etidronate  (preservative, a chemical that is used in soaps to prevent soap scum)
  • BHT (preservative)
Compare this with the ingredient deck of a bar of Zen Soap and it's really easy to see the difference and why handcrafted, plant based, natural & organic bar soap is superior to a person's overall health.
  • RSPO Greener Life Certified Sustainable Palm Oil
  • Organic Coconut Oil
  • Unrefined Organic Shea Butter
  • Earth Derived Colorants such as Herbs, Root Powders, & Natural Clays
  • Therapeutic Grade Steam Distilled Essential Oils or Premium Quality Fragrance Oils
  • 100% Biodegradable
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What exactly is "Superfatting"?

Superfatting is a term used by soap makers to express the value of unsaponified oils in the final bar of soap. In theory, a soap recipe with a 0% superfat will have 0% lye, and 0% oils left over in the final product. Rendering a bar of soap that is 100% soap.

A soapmaker that superfats his or her recipe with a 5% superfat will have a final product of 0% lye, 5% unsaponified oils (the base oils used in the recipe that did not get turned into soap), and 95% soap.

So, as you can see, superfatting not only assures the soapmaker that there will be no lye left over in the final product (which can burn skin), it also adds a moisurizing and nourishing element to the soap because of the unsaponified oils that were left over in the process.

What about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phthalates, & Parabens?

First we need to define these terms and understand why they are used in commercial soapmaking.

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)- a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products, soapsshampoostoothpaste etc. Used as an inexpensive foaming agent that is in many cosmetic products for it's cleaning and emulsifying properties. They behave similarly to soap. Like many other detergents, SLS is an irritant. It has also been shown that SLS causes eye or skin irritation in experiments conducted on animals and humans. The surfactant SLS is a known irritant.
  • Phthalates- substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Commonly used to create fragrances and added to cosmetics to extend shelf life of a product. Phthalates are known to cause birth defects in lab animals.
  • Parabens- another preservative used in cosmetics. Also known for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. Bad for the envirornment and possibly for humans.
Why then are these dangerous and undesirable chemicals added to so many cosmetics and commercially manufactured soap products? Profit. They are cheap and help the manufacturer keep their products from going bad on the shelf. They also serve a purpose in the final product as you can see from the list above, but at what potential cost? Human and envirornmental health is more important than profit in our opinion. We wouldn't want to put these chemicals on our body or in our products.
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  • Handcrafted, or handmade, natural soap is created in small batches by an Artisan where as commercially available soaps and cosmetics are produced in a factory.
  • Artisian style soaps are typically of a higher quality because the ingredients used are usually also higher quality and most importantly are natural and not harmful to humans or the enviornment. 
  • When you purchase Natural Soap, you are supporting a small company and small business instead of the mega-corporations that care nothing about anything but profit. 
  • Handmade bar soap is not made from synthetic detergents but organic, plant oils.
  • Natural soap is better for the enviornment becuase everything used in production and the final product is 100% biodegradable.
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