What is soap?


Soap is a fascinating stuff. It is actually a salt that foams! Now a salt is what you get when you mix an acid and a base together. The acids and bases neutralize each other and a salt forms in the process. Soap, is made from acidic oils and an alkaline solution. Oil and alkali must be in balance to make the perfect bar of soap.

Is glycerin good for my skin? YOU BET!

Glycerin is in fact more valuable by weight than soap. Milled soaps remove their glycerin by adding salt to their batch. Most glycerin in turn is used as a stabilizer in Food and Cosmetics production, as well as an inhibitor in cigarette paper which allows it to burn more evenly. With glycerin removed, the end result is a soap that dries your skin! That's because glycerin, mixed with a little oil and water left in the soap, creates a hand-lotion-in-soap effect. This allows us to create a bar that cleans and removes oils, while soothing sensitive skin.


What is the alternative? Classic Olive Oil Soap!

We recommend natural handmade or "poured" soaps. These traditional, poured and cured processed soaps last nearly twice as long as most mass market bars. Our soap is mixed in small batches and poured into wooden molds. The end result is an opaque premium bath and body bar that is mild enough for the most sensitive skin. Many sufferers of dermatitis can find relief from these types of soaps.


A Brief History of Soap:

Western Soap had its origins in ancient Greece on the Island of Lesbos. There, animal sacrifices were made to the Goddesses. Because the sacrifices were often cremated, hardwood ashes would accumulate (an early source of alkali). These ashes mixed with the tallow of the sacrificed animals. It is said that after a heavy rain a yellow runoff from the fire pit made its way downhill from the temple. The local women washing their clothes in the river noticed that their clothes were cleaner when the river ran yellow. History remembered their poet, Sappho, who wrote of these times and honored her with the definition Saponification - the chemical name for soap making.

Over time it was learned that adding salt water to the mixture would precipitate the removal of glycerin and excess water, thus making the soap harder, and not subject to the month long curing process required of true handmade soap. This old-fashioned "yellow soap" was used for laundry, dishes, and the occasional bath.

Classic Olive Oil Soap is made using a modern version of this three hundred year-old method. Certified organic oils of Palm, Coconut, Olive and Palm Kernel are blended and mixed at precise temperatures with an alkali solution. (Modern Alkali is made by running electricity through salt water.) The batch is mixed for hours, allowing it to thicken slowly. When it is ready, botanical concentrates and organic herbs, spices and grains are added. The batch is then poured into wooden molds and kept warm for about three days. As the soap solidifies, alkali salts begin to rise to the top like cream. Around the fourth day the soap, now solid in block form, is removed from the molds, skimmed of all alkali salts, and cut into individual bars. The bars are then placed on custom made oak and stainless steel screened drying racks and cured for about three more weeks. This process produces the mildest soap that can be made. Often lasting about twice as long as conventional bars, this soap is extremely moisturizing and soothing to your skin.Various herbal extracts called essential oils are used to enhance and individualize the soaps, as well as to accommodate various skin types.

When the crew at Classic Olive Oil Soap set out to make a soap that wouldn't dry the most sensitive of skins, little did they know the journey would take them to the cutting edge of cosmetics chemistry, and hundreds of years into the past!

Many products on the market today claim to be "natural." But what makes a product natural? Most people have a common-sense definition of what "natural" is or should be. For example, natural to most people means being able to pronounce all the ingredients and not needing a chemistry textbook to understand them. The definition of "Natural" is important. It sets apart socially responsible companies from the rest. Synthetic ingredients can be toxic, and usually cost less than natural ingredients giving the mass-marketed multinational corporations a competitive advantage. The big companies know that the natural organic products market is growing by about 25% every year and consumers are demanding products that are healthier and better for the environment. These big corporations have jumped on the "natural" bandwagon and cranked up their marketing machines to benefit from green consumerism. Having a loose definition of natural is just what they want. Take a look at the supermarket shelves and you will see the multitude of "natural" claims. Their definition of natural includes manipulated and chemically altered ingredients. To them "natural" is just another marketing gimmick, not a way of life.


Our definition of "Natural"

What does "Natural" mean at Classic Olive Oil Soap? It means no artificial colors and fragrances and no testing on animals. It means using Rosemary extract as a preservative, not a chemically-derived formula. Natural is about better choices and the responsibility inherent in those choices: organic before pesticides; botanicals before artificial colors and fragrances; vegetable-based before animal-based; and reusable before disposable. Natural is about big-picture thinking. It's about socially responsible business, looking at how we source, formulate and package and reuse or safely dispose of what's left. It's about the relationship between producer and consumer and the planet that we share. It is about staying as close to the original form as possible. Natural is about developing an integrated long-term view of everything that we do.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate (SLS) is currently the primary foaming agent of Western civilization. It is usually found in combination with cocamidopropyl betaine (cocabetaine) and diethanolalamine (DEA), which itself has fallen under scrutiny of late. SLS is found in shampoos, bath gels, car washes, dish detergents, bar "soaps", laundry detergents, etc. It is a wetting and dispersing agent, emulsifier, degreaser and foamer. It also increases skin permeability roughly 100 times and is used in lotions to increase absorption of micronutrients through the skin.

Here are the potential negatives:

  1. It is used in toothpaste to make it foam and also so the paste will stay together when coming out of the machines. Unfortunately it also aggravates the gums causing irritation.
  2. There is a possible link between SLS and permanent damage to the eyes of infants. This definitely deserves further investigation.
  3. May increase hair loss, and promote skin and scalp irritation in sensitive individuals. May produce skin and hair damage including cracking and inflammation. SLS is a known skin irritant and is used in lotion tests. First the skin is irritated with SLS - then the soothing effects of the lotion is tested on it.
  4. A (remote) possible bladder cancer risk factor exists. But only if you hold your urine in your bladder for long periods of time (Trucker Syndrome).


Soap has been around for thousands of years. Chemical surfactants (foaming agents) for less than a hundred years.

 You can decide for yourself what qualifies as "natural".