Increasingly people have started to ask is there a thing called Vegan Soap? For much of my soap making life I have been making Vegan Soap however it wasn’t an intentional act. What was intentional was my selection of ingredients. Those ingredients were plant based which in turn created Vegan Soap.
What is Vegan Soap and how does it differ from other types of soap?
There are various types of soap on the market. Commercial Soap, Animal Based and Plant Based to name a few. If you walk down your favorite drug store aisle or grocery store you will find commercial soap. These are made of harsh chemicals and much of the beneficial glycerin is stripped out of these bars.
Some of the harsh chemicals found in commercial soap include: Formaldehyde, Parabens, and Triclosan to name a few. Fortunately people are waking up to understand how all of those ingredients impact the skin and turning to handmade soap.
Handmade Natural Soap Options
When we look at natural soap it is comprised of animal fats, plant based oils, natural additives, scents and/or butters like Shea Butter or Mango Butter. Handmade soap is by in large better for the skin and the body because it is the traditional method of soap making that our ancestors used without all of the excess harmful chemicals.
Animal Based homemade soap is made with some form of beef tallow or lard. Most of the lye soap made back in the day was made with lard as this was the Fat readily available.
Vegan Soap on the other hand is made without the use of any animal fats or animal byproducts. It uses plant based ingredients as the foundation of the recipe. For a soap to be truly vegan it must not contain any lactose or ingredients derived from animal sources. This includes honey and tussah silk.
Honey and silk are often found in animal based soap but their are alternatives to each of these ingredients. Due to nature’s bounty the options are almost endless for homemade creations with vegan ingredients. Wikipedia offers a pretty simple yet usable definition:
Vegan Soaps are made from fats or oils of vegetable origin rather than from tallow or other animal fats. -Wikipedia
Why Plant Based is Better than the Alternatives
This can be summed up in two primary areas: Skin Health and Environment.
When we look at some of the most common ingredients used in Vegan skincare, particularly soap the benefits beat the alternatives. These include ingredients like:
Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Almond Oil, Agran Oil, Jojoba Oil, Castor Oil and Cocoa Butter to name a few. These are all packed with beneficial properties that our skin needs. If you need moisture, conditioning, vitamins or minerals there is a plant based ingredient that will offer the qualities. The artistry for soap makers is creating recipes that will both cleanse and nurture the skin.
The Vegan Soap Cookbook is a wonderful resource full of recipes that create balanced bars of soap.
Many people don’t realize that what we put on our skin goes into our skin and this is true for the bath products we use daily including our soap. Whether you bathe once a day or multiple times a day, those ingredients are seeping into your pores right into your bloodstream. By using a Vegan product that has been created for it’s skin benefits without the toxic chemicals you are making an investment with the things nature intended. If you or someone in your family has sensitive skin, Vegan soap is a wonderful alternative.
Additionally with the use of Vegan Soap you are making a conscious decision to embrace a cruelty free product. Handmade soap makers do not test their products on animals AND they don’t use animal products. This small change in your daily ritual makes an impact on the environment and our animal friends.
Should you use Vegan Body Wash or Bar Soap?
There has been some debate over body wash or bar soap and it’s truly a matter of preference. No matter which one you choose you will need to study those ingredients on the packaging. This will tell you what’s really in the product and if you want to lather it all over your body. Additionally Body Wash, often comes in plastic containers which ultimately end up in landfills creating a terrible situation for our environment. Bar Soap is often wrapped in paper with a minimal footprint. Some people prefer the convenience of a body wash while the Bar Soap offers a more intentional self care ritual in the tub. What this means is your choice is dependent on what you want, be sure that you check to make sure what’s inside the soap is what you want on your body.
There are several Vegan Soap alternatives available. Some of my favorites are: Triple Butter Blend, Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree as well as Lavender Soap all available online with worldwide shipping.
Can you make Vegetarian Soap without palm oil?
Often times people will ask, can Vegan Soap be made without palm oil. We have to look at why this question arises, why people use palm oil and what are the alternatives. Environmentalist, Animal Rights Activist and Human Rights Activist have all brought awareness to Palm Oil from different points of view. You can read more about that here. I won’t attempt to recreate any of their findings here but I will say on my recent trip to Costa Rica I got a chance to visit a Palm Farm and Processing plant and see first hand how the use of Palm Oil creates opportunity for an entire NATION of people. Sometimes its best to see things with your own eyes before marching to the beat of the internet drum. I tend to agree with the opinions of the Huffington Post article in which they say:
The problem with palm oil is that it is such an efficient crop, that everybody wants in. -Huffington Post
Palm oil generally contributes to the hardness of the soap as well as it’s ability to create bubbles. You can certainly make Vegan Soap without palm oil by swapping this oil for an alternative that creates the same outcome in the soap. I have included a recipe below and there are additional recipes in the Vegan Soap Cookbook.
Easy Soap Recipe for Dry Skin that you can make at home
This recipe will make 2 pounds of soap and includes Oat Milk in place of water along. What I love about this homemade soap is how conditioning it is to the skin. You can also use the Oat Milk as a vegetarian alternative to cows milk.
Sodium Hydroxide: 102 grams
Oat Milk: 261 Grams
Rice Bran Oil: 140 Grams
Avocado Oil: 80 Grams
Coconut Oil: 120 Grams
Shea Butter: 30 Grams
Castor Oil: 20 Grams
Here’s a video that shows just how simple it is to make your own oat milk at home.
If you don’t know how to make soap, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel where I do FREE live demonstrations with Soap Nation. For an in-depth training on soap making and creating your own recipes take an online class with me.