Why bother going through the trouble of making your own soap when you can easily buy soap in the store you ask? It’s worth it! Check it out:
• For the environment: Despite all of the safety claims regarding industrial soap, no one really knows what effect the myriad of chemicals will have on the environment. One study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that about 75% of the main chemicals in antibacterial soap are passed through wastewater filtering to be later used to fertilize crops. Moreover, some regular shower gels contain ingredients that take 200 to 300 years to biodegrade. For more detailed information, check out an article that outlines some of the environmental impacts of soap:http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/68/1/Soap-and-the-environment.html. The good news is that if you make your own soap and choose all natural ingredients with the help of this guide, you can make 100% biodegradable soap!
• For your health: Many mass-produced soaps contain a large quantity of synthetic ingredients that could have unhealthy side effects. For example, many synthetic fragrances are suspected to have damaging health effects such as birth defects, liver damage, and cancer. When making your own soap, you can choose any natural fragrance you like for its aromatherapeutic effects without worrying about the harm of synthetic fragrances. Also, for those who are allergic to the harsh chemicals in soap, or for those who just have sensitive skin, homemade soap is a lot milder, has naturally moisturizing ingredients, and can be fragrance-free.
• For animals: Since you make the soap yourself, you can be sure that you won't be supporting any animal testing. It is also good to be aware that you don't necessarily need to use any animal-based materials (like the commonly used tallow mass, which contains beef fat). You can also be certain that potentially hazardous chemicals will not be rinsed into our waterways. An anti-bacterial chemical, Triclosan, commonly used in soaps, is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as being a pesticide and is believed to destroy fragile aquatic ecosystems. Eco-friendly soaps can benefit every ecosystem!
Cost: Moderately Low
Compared to store bought soap, homemade soaps can be quite cost-effective since you can buy many of the materials in bulk.
Time and effort: Moderately High
The process of soap making outlined here is called "cold process", which is relatively quick compared to other processes that start from scratch. Cold process soaps require only about an hour or so to take, but about 48 hours to harden and 3-4 weeks to cure. In fact, the longer they are left alone, the better the product. For some more soap recipes and ideas, check out: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Natural-Health/2007-08-01/Recipes-to-Make-Your-Own-Soap-Lotion-and-More.aspx.
Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans:
This particular recipe is for coffee scented soap, which is suitable for vegetarians and vegans because it uses all vegetable oils rather than tallow. This is just one of the scents (or scent combinations) you can choose; feel free to experiment with different fragrances! However, before creating your own mixtures, be sure to calculate the exact concentrations of ingredients needed. Too much lye can make your soap overly abrasive, while too little lye can make your soap very oily. This can be done by using one of the many lye calculators easily found online, for example: http://www.the-sage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php.