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?
Soap is the end product of a chemical reaction, called saponification, between fatty acids (oils) and a strong alkali (sodium hydroxide). If the product contains synthetic detergents, it’s a cosmetic, not a 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 true soap, containing no synthetic detergents or preservatives. 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 pre-saponification ingredients; ingredients that you know and most that you can purchase in a grocery store.
How to select the perfect soap
Most people seem to choose soaps based on scent. And that is perfectly OK, especially from soap chandlers who use mostly one custom formula. But you can also select soaps based on other personal preferences; i.e. creamy vs fluffy lather, exfoliants or not, essential oils vs fragrance oils or no fragrance at all, etc.
The following is a list of most of the ingredients used in our soaps and how they effect the finished product. Knowing this information will help you find the perfect soap for you.
Almond Oil: light, moisturizing oil mostly used for dispersing colorants
Alternative liquids (aloe vera, apple cider, beer, coffee, purées): contribute to the color of the soap; natural sugars create big fluffy bubbles
Avocado Oil: high in vitamins A, D & E; good for sensitive skin and face bars
Babassu Oil: contributes to fluffy lather; used in place of coconut oil for those with allergies/sensitivities
Beeswax: adds to the hardness of the bar
Castor Oil: a humectant (attracts moisture to skin); increases lather
Citric Acid: a chelator that binds metals in hard water to improve the lather, extend the life of the soap, and help stop soap scum from forming
Clays: all natural colorant; add “slip” to soap; contribute to longer lasting scent; Most are gentle exfoliants, with the exception of kaolin and rose which have no exfoliating properties; Some (bentonite, French green, sea clay) absorb oils to help reduce acne without drying the skin; Others are good for dry or sensitive skin (kaolin, rose, Brazilian)
Cocoa Butter: adds stable lather, hardness, and creamy feeling
Coconut Oil: makes a hard, bubbly bar of soap; can be drying on some skin types; We use only organic coconut oil at no more than 25% of total oils unless otherwise noted in the description
Colloidal Oats: very mild exfoliant; reduces redness and itchiness of irritated skin; prevents dryness and irritation; leaves skin feeling smooth
Essential Oils: scents extracted from natural products; some can cause skin irritations (cinnamon, cassia, clove); scents are fragile in soap and may not last very long
Exfoliants such as Poppy seeds, Coffee grounds, Ground spices and powders: Each has its own degree of exfoliation and may add nutrients to the skin
Fragrance Oils: scents manufactured in a lab; not considered “natural”; usually hold a scent longer than essential oils and can be used in greater concentration; We use only phthalate free fragrance oils
Hemp Seed Oil: a luxury healing and moisturizing oil; creates creamy, silky lather
Herbal powders: Some are used as colorants (annatto, chlorella, cocoa, spinach); Others are added for their herbal benefits (calendula, chamomile, dandelion)
Honey: Absolutely every bar of soap we make contains Honey at the rate of 1/4 tsp per bar. Honey’s greatest benefit is the copious amount of bubbles it creates, although it is also a humectant (attracts moisture to the skin).
Jojoba Oil: chemical composition is very similar to natural skin oils; moisturizing; absorbs quickly
Kukui Oil: a luxury oil from Hawaii reputed to help ease acne, eczema, and psoriasis; contributes to a creamy lather
Lard: makes a super hard bar of soap; creamy and moisturizing
Mango Butter: luxurious conditioning and moisturizing butter
Milks (Buttermilk, Coconut, Goat, Heavy Cream, Oat): creates gentle, creamy soap; good for sensitive and dry skin
Neem Oil: has antiseptic, antifungal, and insect repellant qualities; has a unique earthy scent that can be overbearing
Olive Oil: the gentlest of all soap making oils; Castille soap is 100% olive oil. Bastille soap is at least 70% olive oil. Our Bastille is 80% olive oil, 12% coconut oil, and 8% shea butter. Soaps made with high amounts of olive oil can be soft and require a longer cure time.
Palm Oil: produces a hard bar with creamy lather; The palm oil we use is responsibly sourced and certified by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Palm Kernel Oil: produces a hard bar of soap with lots of big fluffy bubbles
Pine Tar: helps soothe dry, itchy skin from eczema, psoriasis, poison ivy, and bug bites; also found in shampoos to treat inflammation and itching of the scalp due to dandruff. Pine tar was first described by Hippocrates for use in medicine more than 2000 years ago.
Salts (sea salt, Himalayan salt): create a very hard, long-lasting bar; exfoliating; can help reduce acne; contains magnesium, potassium, iodine, calcium, and zinc; Salt bar soaps are NOT drying to the skin. The added superfats (to prevent them from crumbling) add luxurious creaminess. If the exfoliation of salt bars is too much for your sensitive skin, try it as a foot scrub!
Shea Butter: moisturizing and conditioning; mild and gentle in soap; safe for all skin types including babies
Sodium lactate: helps harden soap for unmolding; the sodium salt of lactic acid
Stearic Acid: helps harden soap; creates rich, velvety lather ideal in shaving soaps; found in coconut and palm oils
Sugar: contributes to big fluffy bubbles; Almost all of our soaps contain added sugar
Sunflower Oil: gives a rich, creamy lather; moisturizing
Titanium Dioxide, Micas, Pigments, and Glitters: all are used as colorants; not considered “natural”, although they may be more stable than their naturally occurring counterparts (oxides); Our micas are responsibly sourced and glitters are biodegradable
Tussah Silk: adds silkiness to the soap
Yogurt/Sour Cream: used only in hot process soap to retain fluid batter for molding
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