Soapy Smackdown Natural vs Commercial

Did you know that natural soap is one of the oldest inventions on the planet? Our understanding is that the first soaps were created 5000 years ago, when animal fat dripped into ashes of a fire, causing saponification to take place. How they figured out that the soapy, ashy mess was good for cleaning is beyond me.

This photo below is some of the first ever soaps I made in January 2021. I had Atlantic Pine, back left - Black Stout in the middle back, where I tried to make it look like a pint initially, Wicklow Waterfalls beside it which as pure white and only scented with birch essential oil, until I realised it went against EU regulations... oops!

The front row features a rough Galway Bay Rum, Irish Mountain Rain and my pink version of Citrus Cedarwood scrub.

Thankfully my product photography has since improved too. (a little)

These all evolved into the products we sell today. Did you know you could save 20% on a build-a-bundle?

But what about commercial soaps, is there really that much of a difference between the two? Why is natural soap so much better than commercially made versions?

Natural soap is made from simple and natural ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, and essential oils. Other than trigger saponification, we don't really alter the natural ingredients in any way.

In contrast, commercial soap can contain chemicals, preservatives, and artificial fragrances that can damage and irritate the skin over time. Common hazardous chemicals found in commercial soaps include benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), and ethanol. Many of these ingredients exist purely to cause the soap or shower gel to foam in contact with water and offer no cleaning benefits to the product.

But most of them are simply used because they are much cheaper...

At The Black Stuff, we pride ourselves on using only natural ingredients. High quality base oils like Olive Oil & Shea Butter, and natural exfoliants like seaweed, oatmeal and pumice with fragrance from our own blends of pure essential oils. Our soaps contain other nutrient-rich ingredients like plant extracts, clays and herbs which benefit your skin by keeping it smooth, soft, healthy, and youthful.

Just as important as what is put into commercial soaps is what is taken out (or never created in the first place where a detergent base is used instead of an oil or fat). Natural soap is created by mixing these fats or oils with lye which causes a reaction called saponification. The result of this process is the creation of soap, heat, and glycerin - a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin and helps produce a rich lather.

Commercial soaps generally remove glycerin from their bars and sell it separately to make lotions or creams. Without it, commercially prepared soap often strips the skin of its natural oils and disrupts its pH balance which can leave the skin feeling dry and tight as well as defenceless against germs and bacteria

Additionally, natural soap can be used for multiple purposes. Our customers report great results using our soaps as shampoo bars or even as shaving soap as well as using them in the shower. This makes them a more versatile option than commercial soap which is often made specifically for one use. This can also mean a significant cost saving as there is no need for separate shampoo, conditioner, shaving foam, and shower gel. One bar of TBS soap can last 28 showers or more when properly cared for (see our previous blog post for tips) so it makes economical sense to switch to us too!

Finally, choosing a natural soap over one that is commercially made also has a number of environmental benefits. The nutrient-rich ingredients are biodegradable and cause no harm to wildlife or aquatic systems they may end up draining into.

The manufacturing process we use here at The Black Stuff involves small batches of 54 soaps at a time made by hand with minimal machinery which keeps our environmental impact to an absolute minimum. See here for a peek at some of our processes.

But most importantly, we operate a zero waste policy. All of our recipes are exactly measured to fill our molds, there is nothing left over after we make a batch. The only waste we create, is for the most part, the cardboard packaging most of our raw materials arrive in.

As you can see, natural soap is better for your skin, your health, your wallet and your planet. All you need to do is choose your favourite and get scrubbing!

Admittedly, choosing a favourite is a lot easier said than done, so why not try out our bundle options to get yourself started. Or if you’ve already tried the soaps in our set bundles, you can build your own to try some new scents. Remember, you can save up to 20% with a subscription and don’t forget to join our Facebook fan page to connect with other TBS users and let us know how you’re getting on – you may even grab one of the exclusive discount codes that John drops in there from time to time!

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