Frequently Asked Questions

How is Eko Savon products different to commercially-produced liquid and solid soaps and shampoos?

There are a few big differences between our products and most commercially produced products.

The first is that we produce our bars using the cold-process method, which requires a chemical reaction between the oils/fats and sodium hydroxide called saponification to create the soap. Most commercial soaps are manufactured on a large scale and are composed of one or more man-made surfactants (detergents) plus a number of other chemicals, colorants and perfumes. 

Another difference is that we avoid all artificial colours and fragrances in our soaps. We rely only on the base oils plus clays, charcoal, spices and some essential oils for the colour and smell of our products.

A third big difference is that solid soaps do not need to be packaged into plastic the way liquid soaps usually are. This allows us to avoid buying unnecessary single-use plastic - most of which ends up in our landfills.

 

But my favourite soap brand claims its products are 'soap-free'. Isn't this a good thing?

There is some serious irony in the fact that 'soap-free' is used as a marketing term to sell bars and body washes. Even some of the more 'natural' and 'eco-friendly' brands use this trick! They will often call their products something like 'Beauty Bars' because legally, only soap that has undergone the saponification process can be marketed as 'soap'.

When you see 'soap-free' on the label of a product, check the ingredients list. It will be composed of one or more detergents that have been derived from a number of sources - petroleum, coconut, palm, etc. Look for names like 'sodium lauryl sulfate' or 'sodium laureth sulphate' (SLS/SLES). According the the PubChem chemical database, the compound has nearly 400 different synonyms or names!

As consumers have wised up to these ingredients, you will often see claims that the ingredients are derived from 'natural sources' like coconut, and you will see ingredients like 'sodium coco sulfate' and 'sodium cocoyl isethionate'. Don't be fooled - these are almost exactly the same, chemically speaking, as SLS/SLES.

The issue with these detergents is the way in which they are produced, the ingredients from which they are produced (petroleum, palm) and the effect on skin - even if they don't cause irritation (which they can for sensitive people), they are harsh and strip the skin and hair of their natural oils.

Why do avoid using palm oil in your soaps?

Many commercially-produced solid soaps - even those made by smaller, artisan producers - use palm oil in their soaps. Be aware that the words 'palm oil' may not appear on the ingredient label - some brands attempt to hide the fact that they use palm oil by using other names such as Elaeis Guineensis. Read a full list of palm oil alternative names and derivatives here.

Palm oil might be great ingredient for soap-making, however it is also ecologically disastrous and most palm oil is produced in an unsustainable way. The cultivation of palms for the production of palm oil has been responsible for huge amounts of deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity in the regions where they are grown. Read more about the issues surrounding palm oil here.