Making Soap Out of Plants

We’d bet you’re like most hand washers – kind of oblivious about how your soap is made, so long as your hands get clean.  Honestly, not many folks read the hand soap labels as earnestly as they read food labels.   But think about it, the largest organ of your body is your skin – so it’s kind of important what goes on it and is absorbed through it.   Right?!

Well, most soaps are made from petroleum based byproducts (think gas and oil scraps), which you might think seems odd at first and then scary:  “Wait, what…. Am I putting gas on my skin?”  The good news is there is a whole industry producing naturally based soaps from plant derived ingredients.   It’s harder to make a plant based soap (we aren’t going to bore you with all the science & technical stuff) and it’s more expensive, but you do wash your hands a lot and don’t ya think it’s better to be using plants instead of gasoline?

To make a plant based soap, you have to first locate the right kind of plants for the specific type of application that you are trying to produce.  We wanted to make hand soap, so we needed plants that had gentle cleaning agents (surfactants), some good foaming and would moisturize our hands.   We chose a surfactant that is produced from coconuts, a foaming agent that is produced from saponario (soapwort) roots and added in some sea salt and aloe to help with the moisture.   We actually have to grind up the soap wort roots and let them “steep” in a water for about two weeks to extract the solution we need from them…. which is about as natural as you can get.