Organic baby soap
Using organic baby soap is advocated as a safe and environmentally friendly way to keep your baby clean without irritating his or her skin with artificial ingredients.
Why should I be aware of this?
The term 'organic' or 'certified organic' has recently begun appearing in handmade soap advertising and on many soap websites. But does the term organic mean that we are getting a chemical free baby soap and our baby will be free from allergies, irritants caused by normal baby soaps. What is the benefit of opting for organic baby soaps?
All about organic baby soaps
Organic baby soaps are made from food grade olive, palm, coconut and other butters and oils and have already been subjected to extensive screening. However, organic baby soaps cannot be completely chemical free. Like other soaps they too have to go through harsh saponification chemical process of making soap from fats or oils. This involves the binding of sodium or sodium hydroxide with an organic fatty acid (from the fats or oils) to make a new sodium salt that we call soap.
The basic soap making process
All soaps follow the following basic process
- Presence of animal fats and/or plant oils or butters
- Presence of Lye or sodium hydroxide -- The animal fat/plant butter needs the presence of a strong chemical base such as lye or sodium hydroxide to undergo a chemical reaction.
- The result of this chemical reaction is the production of three primary substances: a sodium salt that we call soap, glycerin (actually an alchol called glycerol which softens and conditions the skin), and extra water, over and above that present in the original lye solution.
Common ingredients in organic baby soaps
Every soap maker has the option of using any of the myriad fat and/or oil combinations for the soap making process. The primary oils used for organic soaps these days are some combinations of the olive oil (any of the four grades of olive), palm, coconut, soy, castor and sometimes almond, macademia, rape seed, hemp seed or the vegetable butters of shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter, to name a few.
The use of exotic tropical oils and butters makes the organic baby soap more expensive. Some common ingredients used in organic baby soaps are
- Avocado Oil - The natural fats and richness of the avocado yield contains very high amounts of vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin D.
- Shea Butter -- Shea Butter has very rich moisturizing attributes.
- Calendula - Calendula has an appeasement effect on children and soothes red dry skin.
- Chamomile - Chamomile is another ingredient that has an appeasement effect on babies.
- Evening Primrose Oil - Evening Primrose Oil aids the skin's barrier functions and contains a high amount of fatty acids which make the skin cushy, limber and elastic.
Organic baby soap and health
Organic baby soaps have fewer chemicals and are therefore less irritating to the skin. They are mild and have virtually no elements that can cause allergies or other skin ailments.
Organic baby soap and environment
- Most of the exotic oils used as ingredients in organic baby soaps are sourced from distant places and their carbon footprint is very high. When you opt for such soaps, you are contributing to global warming.
- The chemicals that wash through the drains after bathing the baby, contaminate ground water and find their way into water bodies such as rivers and seas.
- The use of exotic tropical oils and butters has is more expensive as these oils are sourced from tropical areas or other distant places of origin. But the use of organic or certified versions of basic, as well as exotic oils or butters, increases the cost of organic baby soaps from a factor of 2-5 times.
- To claim organic status, and still sell enough soap to make a profit, many soapmakers change their formulas drastically by reducing the relative amounts of exotic oils (although 'organic') and make up the difference with higher levels of less expensive filler oils (that may also be 'organic'). Many of these filler oils are only 25-35% of the cost of organic extra virgin olive, coconut, safflower or shea butters. So an organic oil which touts virgin olive oil as a component and soy oil as an ingredient might have less of extra virgin olive and more of organic soybean oil as the later is much cheaper.
- A Goat Milk Soap made by one soapmaker may use goat milk for 100% of its liquid, whereas another soapmaker might add a small fraction. One soapmaker might use fresh goat milk, another re-constituted powdered goat milk.
- Organic soaps scented with "fragrance oil" have petrochemicals. To avoid this opt for organic baby soaps scented with all-natural essential oil.
- All bars of organic baby soap are not the same. Soaps made with shea butter might contain 5% Shea Butter as compared to 30% Shea Butter, but they're both called "Shea Butter Soap".
- An organic soap is not necessarily better than an all natural soap made with food grade oils and great recipes.
- To claim organic status, and still sell enough soap to make a profit, many soapmakers change their formulas drastically by reducing the relative amounts of exotic oils (although 'organic') and make up the difference with higher levels of less expensive filler oils (which might also be organic soy or castor oil). Many of these filler oils are only 25-35% of the cost of organic extra virgin olive, coconut, safflower or shea butters.
- The Ingredients of Organic Baby Soap
- Organic Soap - Natural Soap