How long has soap existed?
In which country was soap considered a luxury product and purchased exclusively by the rich?
What was the first company in the United States to successfully
mass-produce soap for public use?
Until recently, what household needs were met with bar soap?
Do most Americans use soap?
Does real soap float in water?
Why do most large retail stores not sell real soap?
Do commercially-produced clear soaps contain natural glycerin?
Why do most bar cleansers leave a white film on skin?
A: People have been making and using soap for over 4,800 years.
Archaeological records show that the Babylonians were making soap around
A: In England, previous to 1853, soap was heavily taxed and could only be
purchased by wealthy individuals. In 1853, when the soap tax was
repealed, soap became more widely used.
A: William Colgate and Company, established in New York City by William
Colgate in 1806, was the first large-scale soap factory in the United
States. Colgate and Company sold large blocks of soap to drug
stores. The drug store clerks hand-sliced bars from the loaf for
customers, as needed. In 1830, Colgate and Company began selling
individual bars of soap in uniform weights. A version of the
original Colgate and Company still exists today as the Colgate-Palmolive
Company. Now, the successful Colgate-Palmolive Company manufactures
Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish detergents, Ajax cleanser, Softsoap
liquid hand cleanser, and Hill's Science Diet pet products.
Unfortunately, it seems the pioneering company no longer manufactures natural soap
and has not for quite some time.
A: Previous to the last 50 years, bar soap was used for personal bathing, for
washing hair, for laundering clothes, for cleaning the home, and for
softening and cleaning leather. An entire household would regularly
accomplish all of these needs with the same bar of soap.
A: Surprisingly, no. Today, most Americans do not
have a bar of real soap in their home.
Most households have a "beauty bar," a
"cleansing bar," a "family bar," or a "moisture
bar;" none of which are real soap. These common bathing bars
are actually bars of detergent, not soap. Sadly, most of America's
youth have never experienced the wholesome luxury of bathing with a bar
of real soap.
A: Yes and no. Real soap can be made to float in water by whipping air
into the liquid soap batter before pouring it into the mold to harden. By whipping air
into the soap batter, the weight of the final bar of soap is reduced; meanwhile, the mass of the
bar remains the same. Therefore, soap with air whipped into it will float because
the bar is less dense and slightly lighter in weight than a non-aerated bar of soap with the
same dimensions. Usually, the ultra-fine air bubbles are not detectable in the final
bar of soap. Some commercial bathing bars and detergent bars are aerated to make
them float in water. Companies that aerate their commercial detergent bars
often use this technique in order to increase profits by selling an aerated product
that appears to be a standard size bar of common dimensions, but in reality the bar weighs
slightly less because the consumer is buying less of the product because some of the bar
is only air. So, whether or not a product floats is not an indication of whether or not
the product is real soap. Soap can be made to float; detergent bars can be made to float.
Pallas Athene Soap makes only real soap and does not aerate the soap batter; hence, Pallas
Athene Soap's bars of natural soap do not float.
A: Most retail stores do not sell real soap because it is not available to them.
Today's commercial "soap" manufacturers begin the process of making soap
with inexpensive fatty acids instead of using whole natural oils.
The fatty acids do not yield a high glycerin content.
Fatty acids are extracted from whole oil and the valuable glycerin remains to be sold separately to other entities.
Glycerin (glycerol) is a valuable commodity; it is altered
and processed into industrial lubricants, industrial solvents, and
nitroglycerin for dynamite, explosives, and to dilate blood vessels.
Handmade soaps made from whole oils yield real soap that is rich in luxurious natural glycerin.
Often additives, fillers, "lathering agents,"
preservatives, colorants, and chemicals are added by commercial "soap" manufacturers.
Many people find these additives drying and irritating, especially without the natural
emollience of the missing glycerin to counteract the additives'
harshness. Furthermore, heavy scents and synthetic fragrances are
added to commercial bars to mask the odors of these harsh additives.
The resulting bars of detergent are sold to retailers as "cleansing bars."
Therefore, few bar cleansers are real soap, which is rich in natural
glycerin. Hence, most commercial manufacturers do not make real soap and
so it is not available to retailers.
A: No. Frequently, people refer to clear cleansing bars as
"glycerin soap." Ironically, they are neither real soap,
nor do they contain glycerin. In order to produce a clear product,
clear cleansing bars are commonly made with alcohol, detergents,
artificial coloring agents, synthetic fragrances, and sugar.
A: There are several answers to this trick question. The key to the
trick is that real soap does not leave a white film on skin.
As for the white film, many different bar cleansers and detergents are responsible
for this film for a variety of reasons.
First, and most simply, most
bar cleansers and synthetic liquid cleansers are very harsh and drying to skin.
They clean so well that they can strip the skin of all surface oils and some epidermal oils,
resulting in dry, "ashy" skin, which appears white from a thin
layer of sloughed, dry epidermal cells clinging to the skin surface.
This thin layer of sloughed and dry epidermal cells, is often visible as a
"white film." (Real soap cleans effectively without stripping or drying
because it is rich in natural glycerin, a natural
lubricating humectant that moisturizes and nourishes skin.)
Next, some detergents do leave an actual film on the skin. Depending
on the cleanser, the film may either be due to the acidity of the product
or due to the high content of sodium laureth sulfate.
(Real soap does not naturally contain sodium laureth sulfate.)
Lastly, water sources with extremely high mineral content, termed
"hard water," may also leave a white powdery substance on skin,
especially in combination with certain fatty acids. In this case,
either calcium or magnesium ions bond with fatty acids to form insoluble
salts that remain on the skin surface. During the saponification
process of making real soap, the fatty acids found in the original
ingredients are molecularly re-arranged into alkali salts and no longer
exist as fatty acids. Therefore, most real soap does not contain many
fatty acids, if any. (Pallas Athene Soap Premium Soaps do contain skin-nourishing essential fatty acids
in the form of natural Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids from organic vegetable oils.)
Free fatty acids are sometimes added to
bar detergents and liquid skin cleansers in an effort to produce a
moisturizing effect or to counteract other harsh additives.
These free fatty acids added to skin detergents
can be the "white film culprits" by bonding with the excessive calcium or
magnesium ions of hard water. However, detergents without added
fatty acids--such as dish detergents and laundry detergents--rarely leave
a white film on skin, but should not be used on the skin due to harshness.
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