True Soap is made using water, lye* and oil or fat. Mixed together in the proper proportions and at the correct temperature, a chemical reaction happens and the process of saponification begins. After the saponification process is complete, the fatty acids from the oils/fats and lye/water are converted to a fatty acid salt known as “soap” and glycerol. Handcrafted soapmakers leave the glycerol in their finished soap. There is no lye left in soap once it is cured or processed.
Even if 100% of the agricultural ingredients are USDA Certified Organic, it is still basically impossible to make a soap with more than 85% organic ingredients – remember the water and the lye are not organic, because they are not agricultural! For a more detailed explaination please visit one of my favorite websites: http://botaniesoap.com/frequently-asked-questions
If someone markets their soap as organic, ask them the name of their USDA Certifying Agent… organic claims for soap are regulated under the National Organic Program and without certification, organic claims are not allowed.
If someone markets their soap as handmade, ask if they make it from scratch or whether they handcraft from a pre-made base, if that matters to you.
If someone markets their soap as natural, ask what ingredients they use for color and scent. Unless they use pure essential oils, they may be scenting with synthetic fragrances, in which case the soap is not all natural! Soapmakers often use herbs, botanicals, and minerals for color. These ingredients also can be natural or synthetic. If this matters to you…ask!
And if a product claims to be some amazing new technology but still pretends to be soap… if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is! Soap Cleans is a blog post I wrote about that subject!