We had an excellent question from a conscientious customer recently and we wanted to share our knowledge with everyone!
He (Robert Weatherhead) asked:
‘I read on the packet of your incognito luxury soap that it had all
natural ingredients but then read sodium hydroxide in the ingredients.
I am looking for a soap that i can use regularly in a river (in wales)
and do not want to kill any of the life in or around the river, is
your soap appropriate for this?’
Thanks for the question! We are happy you like the idea behind our products and ethics – we like the conscientiousness behind your use of soap!
I can reassure you our soap is not a pollutant and will not kill wildlife; and I’ll explain the detail!
Sodium hydroxide (aka caustic soda or lye) is natural. You’re right, on it’s own it reacts chemically and is a mild water pollutant at a concentration of 0.5 mg per metre cubed. It reacts to make something other than sodium hydroxide.
During the soap making process – saponification – these sodium hydroxide molecules join with the coconut and sesame oil molecules, in an exothermic reaction, to form the soap. The end result has no lye left – so that the soap itself is chemically inert.
Despite popular belief, lye soap is not harsh and does not burn the skin. This belief has come from the fact soaps made in the past did not use the correct proportions. Residual lye in the soap is what burned the skin. Modern soap makers, however, have resources to make soap that is cleansing and soothing for the skin (i.e. no harshness). There are also saponification charts and lye calculators so that we can produce exactly the right amount for a soft, soothing, natural soap with no traces of lye remaining. Soap recipes often have a little extra oil present to ensure all of the lye is used up, and this minimal oil excess is what makes lye soap moisturising.
In answer to your question on the suitability, all soaps contain lye. If soap is made without lye, it becomes detergent. Other, cheaper soaps made with synthetic chemicals instead of lye (which is completely natural), is what causes acne, dry skin and irritation. Natural lye soaps cleanse, keeping bacteria levels low on the skin – friendly bacteria is a good thing – lessening them makes you less attractive to insects.
In conclusion, sodium hydroxide within the soap is natural and not a pollutant in any way!
An alternative, of course, is to make your own, though it’s a lot easier to buy one of the incognito® soaps and they are professionally and ethically manufactured and they help keep the bugs at bay.
We are here to answer any further questions!