DIY Hand Soap Recipes: Safe Washing For Germaphobes
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Many of us are starting to slowly wake up to the harsh reality of what is actually contained in many of the products we buy off the shelves of our local stores these days. The issue has indeed plagued most of us for many years, but somehow it’s taken us more time than it should have to realize that we, as consumers, have an active role in it. We either participate in the continued manufacturing of these products or establishing them as successful household brands by buying them. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you raid your cupboards, cabinets and pantries and throw out everything that may contain harmful chemicals or be produced in unethical circumstances, but rather to be mindful of what you’re buying the next time you go shopping.
One of the areas we tend to overlook with regards to this is personal hygiene. We generally assume that buying products that are ‘antibacterial’ are good for us. That they help to remove germs and ultimately afford us better quality of health and prevent various infections and illnesses. This may indeed be true, but is it a truism? What do I mean by this? Well, essentially the fact stands that normal hand soap will disinfect and remove germs just as well as a ‘disinfectant’ and that we’re generally driven to purchase these products based on targeted marketing strategies that often appeal to our basic fear of germs and that they spread illness and disease. So we believe that we are doing the right thing by treating our skin with these disinfectant products, that we’re promoting good health and striving to live a cleaner, healthier lifestyle. The irony is; at what cost are we risking our health by using these products?
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but to anyone who’s ever turned a bottle of almost any personal hygiene product around and read the ingredients, you’ll be well aware of what I’m referring to. Soaps are designed to keep our skin clean, yet the ingredients that are often used to create these products are harmful chemicals that we would never want anywhere near our body (let alone on our hands and faces) when used alone i.e. not in the form of a nicely packaged product. So why then, do we remain stuck in this harmful cycle? Perhaps it’s time we investigate the matter a bit further, and try to come up with some applicable solutions to break out of the mold and make the shift – easily and effectively.
The Importance of Using Liquid Hand Soap with Safe Ingredients
I feel as though the title of this paragraph largely explains itself. It’s really more of a statement than a rhetorical question. Let’s dissect this a little more, and find out exactly what it is I’m referring to. Many of us prefer to use liquid hand soap because it is held in a separate container which makes it more hygienic. You don’t have to worry about sharing the germs that might come with using a standard bar of hand soap, plus it doesn’t stain or melt like some soap bars do overtime. For those among us who are veritable germaphobes, this is the common ‘go-to’ option along with the aforementioned antibacterial or antiseptic ingredients.
However, we may be overlooking a few of the more obvious downsides of this approach to personal hygiene. In my opinion, this is overkill. Now, I’m not suggesting that liquid hand soap in a separate container is a bad idea, quite the contrary – it’s a more effective way of neutralizing the spread of germs and bacteria. I am referring more specifically to the type of soap we use and the ingredients contained in it.
Most mass-made liquid soaps, whether antiseptic or not, contain roughly the same kinds of ingredients. Many of these can be very harmful to our skin or health in general. I’ll list a few and explain them to you. As an interesting thought experiment, I’d recommend going back to your bathroom and figuring out how many of your hygiene products actually contain some or all of these ingredients.
The first is one that’s commonly found in a large variety of hygiene products and is something I discussed in a previous article on DIY Shampoo. It’s generally referred to as ‘Fragrance’, which is a title that can cleverly be used to disguise a long list of harmful or volatile chemical ingredients. These are often not disclosed and are generally considered a trade secret. Regular exposure to these products can lead to or cause anemia and a lowered blood cell count which means that your skin will take longer to heal when wounded. It can also lead to a variety of other health issues such as liver and kidney damage. Then there are parabens, which are contained in an equally wide variety of skin care products. These can affect hormone balances and lead to excess fat storage and weight gain – the last thing you’d expect from a skincare product.
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One of the ingredients that occurs most often in many skincare products is known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It’s an emulsifier which means that it is used to help products bind together and mix more easily. However, this ingredient also breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier and allows other chemicals to permeate more deeply into your skin tissue. When it mixes with the other ingredients that are commonly found in your liquid hand soap, it can become a harsh carcinogenic – a chemical that propagates the development of cancer in your body.
So as cleanly and hygienic as you might think using liquid hand soap is, the true nature of the ingredients of these products can be far worse for your overall health than you ever imagined – and these are just 3 harmful ingredients that I listed. The reality is that there are far more than most of us are aware of. So what can be done? There are two alternatives. Namely, sourcing an ethically manufactured product that contains no harmful ingredients or making your own hand soap at home so that you know exactly what’s in it and what effects it will have on your body. This will be cheaper for you in the long run and gives you the freedom of deciding how to treat your own skin, something that should appeal to any of us who wish to live a more natural and healthy lifestyle.
DIY Liquid Hand Soap Recipe and Guide
The DIY approach to making your own liquid hand soap is one of the easiest DIY recipes you’ll ever encounter. It will literally take you less than an afternoon to do! It’s a basic 2 step process that only uses 3 ingredients and you’ll save 3 times the money that you would on buying manufactured soap products. Plus, you’ll lead a healthier and more natural life. So there’s really nothing holding you back from at least trying this option in my opinion. What you’ll need:
- Liquid Castile Soap (the amount depends on how much soap you’d like to make, so buying in bulk will work out to be cheaper in the long run). Castile soap is an all natural product that’s generally made out of coconut, olive or castor oil. It lathers well and won’t irritate your hands.
- Distilled Water (again, the amount depends on the amount of soap you’d like to make).
- 10 Drops of Tea Tree or Eucalyptus oil (a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent).
- 10 Drops of an additional essential oil that you’d like to add for fragrance purposes. I’d recommend Orange, Lemongrass, Lavender or Witch Hazel as they have added antiseptic properties and will help to leave your skin feeling moisturized and nourished.
- A liquid soap container to hold the mixture.
To make the soap, simply add 2 tablespoons of the castile soap to the soap container. Then fill the rest of the container up with the distilled water. Now add the essential oils and seal the container – then shake well for at least 2 minutes to ensure that the ingredients mix. And there you go! The easiest DIY experiment you ever tried at home.
Before and After Results of DIY Liquid Hand Soap
After using the liquid hand soap, your hands should feel soft and smooth. The castile soap will moisturize the surface of your skin and leave them feeling great – not dry or irritable like most chemical soaps do. The fragrances will also make your hands smell fantastic.
Once you get a feel for this recipe, feel free to add whichever fragrancing ingredients you wish. You can experiment with different spice and herb infusions as well as combining your own essential oil blends to produce different scents and different effects. Your creativity is your only limit here!
DIY Soap Bar Recipe and Guide
Making your own DIY Hand soap couldn’t be easier – however, I recommend that you draw up a shopping list before you begin. Then you can be sure you have all the right ingredients and implements you’ll need to make a successful batch. Again, I’d like to stress that although this might cost you a bit more in the interim, you’ll save loads in the future because you’ll never have to buy hand soap again! Plus it lasts a lot longer than shelf-bought goods. Also, if you’re a keen baker, you should already have most of these ingredients in the kitchen. So don’t worry!
Firstly, these are the tools you’ll need for the recipe. If you have spare implements, use those instead. But I don’t advise using the same tools for cooking with after you make the soap – so be sure to keep them separate. Here’s a list of tools:
- Stainless steel pot (preferably a large one and AVOID aluminium or iron).
- Stainless steel spoon.
- A mixer (hand or machine works just as well, but remember you shouldn’t use it for cooking or baking afterwards – so I’d go with a hand mixer just to save cash).
- A spatula, preferably plastic.
- Zip-lock plastic bag.
- Measuring bowls (3-4).
- An old plastic container specifically for lye.
- A scale (digital or traditional).
- Baking thermometer.
- A mold to pour the soap in (any old mold will do).
- Wax paper.
- Old towels to help the soap incubate in the mold.Ingredients:
- 10 oz. Coconut Oil
- 10 oz. Avocado Oil
- 8 oz. Olive Oil
- 8 oz. Castor Oil
- 2 oz. Natural Cocoa powder
- 12 oz. Distilled water
- 5 oz. Lye (sodium hydroxide)
- Roughly 4 oz. of essential oils (which you can blend together). I recommend lemon, orange, almond and rosemary for this recipe – but feel free to mix and blend as you wish.
It’s important that you follow the steps of the recipe very carefully as failure to do so could result in a bad batch which is just a waste of time and money. So take it slow and steady and read over it a few times before you start and while you’re actually making the soap as a reference guide.
Pour the oils (coconut, avocado, olive and castor) into a mixing bowl or directly into the pot for heating. Make sure you’re amounts match that of the recipe exactly! Now, heat the oils to 100 F degrees (95-100) and let them simmer. While they’re heating up, you can move onto the next step.
Now you need to mix the Lye with the water. IMPORTANT – I recommend doing this outside as the lye can stain and can be dangerous if it gets into your eyes. Also, the fumes of the lye in its powdered form can make you cough, so mix it outside just to be safe. I recommend using cleaning gloves for this part.
Pour the lye powder into the ziploc bag. Pour the distilled water into a plastic container. IMPORTANT – you should not mix the water with the lye, but rather add the lye powder to the water. Once you’ve poured the water into the plastic container, slowly sprinkle the lye from the ziploc bag into the water. Stir the water continuously – it should take roughly a minute or so for the lye to settle and dissolve.
Once the lye has dissolved into the water the fumes should dissipate. Now heat the water containing the lye mixture in the oven to 100 F degrees as well. The oils and the water/lye mixture should be at roughly the same temperature in order to blend correctly.
Pour the lye water into the heated oil blend and stir continuously.
While you’re blending the lye mixture with the oils, add in the cocoa powder. Stir continuously so that it mixes into the new blend.
Now let the blended mixture sit for a short while. The mixture needs to harden but must not become TOO HARD. The prime texture you should be looking for is something close to a pudding-like texture. Note that when the soap reaches this level, you need to pour it into your mold quickly as it’s busy setting and you don’t want to let it set in the bowl. However, just before pouring, you can add your essential oils to the mixture. Be sure to pour the oils in softly and spread them evenly across the soap so that they cover a wider area.
Line your mold with the wax paper.
Now pour the mixture into the mold slowly and steadily. You don’t want to spill as it’s a waste! Once you’ve poured the mixture into your mold, make sure that it’s on an even surface.
Now wrap the soap with the towels and allow it to set for 24 hours – allowing the heat to remain locked in.
Once the 24 hour mark has been reached, check to see if the soap is hard yet. If it feels hardened – great! You’ve mixed the ingredients correctly and followed the instructions perfectly.
Now, wrap the soap with a blanket or two and allow it to settle for another 24 hours to enable a truly solid bar that you can cut and store easily.
Once the soap has settled for 48 hours, you can either remove it from the mold (depending on the shape they’re in) or cut them in whichever shapes or sizes you desire.
Now, it’s important for me to state that YOU CANNOT USE YOUR SOAP IMMEDIATELY! I don’t want anyone washing themselves after just two days and getting burns or irritated skin. The lye in the soap has to cure for roughly 4 – 6 weeks before you can use it on your bodies. This makes it safe for skin and hair use.
I recommend letting the soap cure in a cool, dry place and placing them in an airtight plastic container. Once a week, open the container for 2-3 minutes so that the soap can ‘breathe’ a bit. Otherwise, keep it locked away for the time being. The longer you let it cure, the more mild it becomes – which makes it more suitable for general skin and hair application and also nullifies the lye, making it safe. Voila! You now have your own, handmade soap collection.
Before and After DIY Soap Bar Recipe Results
Once you’ve let the soap mature, it should leave your skin feeling soft and smelling fantastic. It’s always better to wait longer rather than use the soap before it’s finished maturing, otherwise the lye can harm your skin and leave it feeling dry and itchy. Otherwise, the soap will act like any other store bought soap you’d find on the shelf at your local supermarket – except that it’ll cost a fraction of the price and contain less than half of the toxic chemicals you’ll find in most other soaps.
Personally, I always enjoy taking on DIY projects for the thrill of being able to stand back and say that I made something with my own hands. But the added benefits are that you’ll be able to save a ton of cash in the long run and make the shift towards leading a healthier, more holistic lifestyle. I think the majority of us would rather know what we’re treating our skin with – especially if those ingredients can lead to a series of somewhat serious ailments or irritations. So if knowing is half the battle, then making the switch to a herbal or natural product is your way of planting the flag and making a milestone in your journey to getting rid of harmful chemicals in your household.
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