Soap is a great way to use hive products. Every bar of soap we create contains honey for luxurious bubbles and added moisture; some have beeswax as a hardener and others have added pollen. The skin benefits of special ingredients in wash-off products such as soap haven’t been proven, and the FDA forbids using any terms that may indicate the soap does anything other than “cleanse”. But we know there are all kinds of different oils and additives that can have positive effects on the soap properties. Before we look at some of those, let’s talk about SOAP.

What is soap?

To meet the definition of soap in FDA’s regulations, a product must meet three conditions:

  1. The product must be composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids,” that is, the material you get when you combine fats or oils with an alkali, such as lye.
  2. Those “alkali salts of fatty acids” must be the only material that results in the product’s cleaning action. If the product contains synthetic detergents, it’s a cosmetic, not a soap.
  3. It must be labeled and marketed only for use as soap. If it is intended for purposes such as moisturizing the skin, making the user smell nice, or deodorizing the user’s body, it’s a cosmetic. Or, if the product is intended to treat or prevent disease, such as by killing germs, or treating skin conditions, such as acne or eczema, it’s a drug.

What is the difference between artisan soaps and soaps sold in the supermarket?

There are very few actual soaps on the market today. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are synthetic detergent products made to produce suds in any water type and have an extended shelf-life. Beware of products that contain parabens (preservatives), phthalates (used in fragrances), 1, 4-Dioxane (a by-product), sodium lauryl sulfate (added for lather), and triclosan (an antibacterial/antifungal) as each of these can have adverse effects on the human body, including a negative impact on the immune system and triggering allergic reactions.

Artisan soap is made by combining fats or oils and an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide (lye). The fats and oils are degraded into free fatty acids which then bond with the alkali, in a process called saponification, to create soap. When made properly, no lye remains in the finished product. Isn’t it hard to believe that a greasy substance that is hard to clean can become the cleaning agent? The best part of making artisan soap is controlling the ingredients that go into it. Our labels are clearly marked with all the ingredients that go into the soap; ingredients that you know and most that you can purchase in a grocery store.