138 Responses to “Time to Play: What’s in YOUR Soap?”


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  1. John Williams

    What is proven about commercial tallowates to be negative just because the cattle may have been injected with antibiotics and so forth? Do these animal drugs find their way into commercial tallowates? What is the refining process for animal tallow? I would like to know more before I can justify $3.25 for a bar of Dr. Bronners. In any case, there are “white label” brands such as Dr. Organics that are far cheaper than Dr. Bronners and equally as pure and effective.

    • Brittany

      I don’t know where you can find Dr. Bronner’s bar soap for under $5 but i would love to have your supplier information! LOL

  2. David

    I am vegetarian but seriously the bar soaps are that are tallow-free are far too expensive! Who but the upper middle class professional with a great job can afford $3 a bar soaps? What we need is a good mass produced vegie/vegan soap that’s affordable.

    • David, as a soap maker myself I can assure you that the $3 bar of real soap will, if it’s made well, last far longer and be far kinder to your skin than commercial soap. And you won’t need any other products to follow up with because the natural glycerine hasn’t been stripped from it. Oh, and I speak as a lower middle class mother of four in a single income family.

      • Well said Sarah! My only additional input is that $3 is extremely inexpensive for a good bar of soap. You can easily pay $20 for a good bar and save in the long run over other products you will no longer need, and your wellness in the long run because you are decreasing your toxin in take.

      • TerriLin

        I make my living as a soapmaker. My soaps are 100% handmade (by me) from scratch and people pay $7/bar without blinking an eye. Learn to make your own soap if $3/bar is too expensive. Basic soap is not hard to make and there are literally zillions of basic soap recipes on the internet you can follow. You skin will thank you. Good luck.

        • lesa

          what is in your soap?
          all the recipes I read say Lye is required to make ALL soaps
          yet no one throws a fit about such a poison when used that way. don’t get me wrong I LOVE handmade soaps…..
          just pointing out the discrepancy .

          • Lesa,
            What you say is true. All soaps have lye and in its natural state it is very toxic and harmful. But after the saponification process that takes place after you have mixed it into the vegetable oils or tallow proteins it is harmless and is not bad for your skin at all. The process actually makes the natural glycerin’s that are stripped away in the commercial brands of soap.

          • Heather

            To take what Chris said a step further – not only is the lye used in soap making not bad for your skin, it actually isn’t in the finished product at all. The chemical reaction of “liquid oils + lye = soap” uses up all of the lye. Soap makers use slightly more fat/oil than gets used in this chemical reaction, which ensures that all of the lye gets converted to soap, and leaves a small amount of moisturizing oil in the soap. Win-win. :)

    • Bryan

      My homemade 2 and 3 oz soaps that I give away to my friends and family last one person a month and would sell on the market for $2. My 5 oz olive oil house cleaning soap that I also give to friends and family typically lasts 6 to 9 months and would retail for $5 if I sold it. Several years ago when I learned that I was bathing in cow fat I changed from Ivory to Gefen Kosher Soap which is just coconut oil, water and lye (they even have Caustic Soda listed as an ingredient). The 4 oz bars sell for $2.49 and would last over a month. When I went to my doctor a few weeks after starting to use the Gefen soap for a check up she commented that my skin looked better than my last visit and asked what I was using. So much for “gentle” Ivory!!!!!

    • Ray

      Use Chandrika Ayurvedic soap from India.
      Very Cheap.
      Very Good.

    • Susan Mead

      I get Kirks Castile from Walmart online, three bars for $3.30. Coconut oil based and works well with hard water to boot. Good for Florida’s water that’s so hard, I’m grateful it pours.

  3. Carol Cameo

    I had used dove for years but it became WAY TOO PRICEY so i went back to the OLD bar soap Jergens …which is a mild soap gentle enough for a baby. But of course if U are a vegetarian AND the thought of soap containing animal products scares u then u might have to stick to some other soap……and BTW i used Kirks Castile soap and it burned and tingled my skin so bad i stopped using it.

    • Cass

      Yeah, because it’s too alkaline. People simply do not understand they are victims of the cosmetic industry “green washing” them.
      If honey were a good face cleanser, they would not have invented BAR SOAP thousands of years ago. Today’s Sydnet bars are far better for your skin and heads up…who gives a sweet fiddlers fuck if the tallow came from a grass fed cow?
      You don’t need to eat your facial cleanser. That’s the most ridiculous notion of all.
      Women are just stupid.

      • Lizzie

        I agree that green washing is a huge and unfortunate problem. It makes me very angry on the daily.

        There are many reasons that it does matter where the products you use come from. Perhaps a person cares about not supporting the petroleum industry, or cares about animal welfare. Cows that are not grass fed are sick cows (their rumen was specifically meant to digest grass and they are not able to properly digest grains – grains cause their bodies to become overly acidic, which is an environment ripe for pathogenic bacteria like E.Coli to flourish, hence the huge issue with people getting sick from milk and the institution of pasteurization of milk, or the overuse of antibiotics to keep the cows alive long enough to slaughter them in the beef industry or milk them in the dairy industry. This is a crime in and of itself: a grass fed cow produces about 1-2 gallons of milk per day and lives 15-20 years, like a horse. In conventional dairies, they produce 15-18+ gallons of milk per cow per day because they eat grain, and they only live about 18 months to 2 years because they are sick from eating grain).

        Regardless of wanting to eat your facial cleanser, our skin is our largest organ, and whatever is put on it is absorbed into our bloodstream.

        So, I do give sweet fiddlers fucks about where my food comes from and were the products I use on my body come from. Greenwashing is so prevalent and it is so hard to tell what the practices of big companies are truly like, it has made me only eat from friends’ farms and make my own products, though.

        • Beth

          You have obviously never been to a dairy farm or seen firsthand what dairy cows eat. Dairy cows are fed a mixed ration which includes fermented silage, hay, cottonseed, proteins, and much more. If they were fed what you think they are being fed they would not produce the 15+ gallons of milk that you claimed they produce. Also, I’ve seen dairy cows that live for 10 or more years. It would not be very profitable for farmers if their cows died after 18 months. You should go visit an actual dairy farm or get to know some dairy farmers like myself. Despite what you believe, we love our animals and strive to give them the best care possible.

          • healthy girl


          • Ginger Naylor

            I live in farm country….Land O Lakes signs are on several farms boasting where their dairy goes. The other locals grow hay, straw, feed corn, and other things specifically for the dairy farms that sell to Land O Lakes. All natural ! Come and drive through York County PA sometime, and don’t miss Rt 214 :)

  4. Julie

    People…we don’t put garbage in our body, why put it on your body?

  5. I just discovered the EWG website and this makes me very glad I make my own laundry detergent. I am with you concerning the production of these inexpensive bath bars containing all the mystery ingredients. I’m wondering about health and sanitation regarding the collection of the animal fats in question too. Sure it’s on a super gigantic scale so I dare not think of all this fat being processed! Anyway bottom line, I’m trying to find a new bar soap to use to replace Zote and Fels Naptha in my laundry detergent . I’ve thought of using Zum,Toms, or the round soaps thatare that come in bulk without packaging, these can be purchased at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. I’m willing to pay a little more to protect the health of my family. Also Kirks Castile is another option. I’m going to continue my research in the meantime.

    • Abhi Tambar

      Is it possible to have a legislation which make it compulsory for the manufacturer to declare the component or ingredients i.e. animal fat or plant oil & to be more specific which animal or plant bases and in what ratio.

  6. Zee Bee

    Its this kind of mongering and misinformation that is frustrating ! Syndet bars like Dove are not soaps made of lye !They contain mild surfactants like isethionate,…this makes them milder than traditional soaps.
    Tallow is a fat just like palm oil is ,once saponified it changes completely leaving behind no ‘animalness’.once animals are slaughtered for food purposes its a by product used for years !oils like coconut,palm olive require resources like land,water!How sustainable is that ?
    The idea should be to use what’s easily available locally ,preferably cheap so prices can be kept down !That is lesser carbon footprint too !
    Being environmentally savvy,organic etc doesn’t mean hauling of resources from third world countries and waste feul !

    • Antoinette

      I’ll take lye over petrochemicals and other chemical byproducts of manufacturing processes

    • river

      You don’t think animals require resources like land, water, and feed? More animals, more land and more resources used to house and feed and take care of them. Animals are extremely taxing on the environment.
      “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reported at the July 24-26 meeting of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Montreal. Or, if those grains were exported, it would boost the U.S. trade balance by $80 billion a year, Pimentel estimated.

      • lesa

        my husband works for a plant that uses EVERY tiny bit of the corn plant.. NO waste. there is also NO truth to the lie that
        “if the corn was used for people ..millions would be fed”
        it’s not true..
        all products are made for human consumption……. period..
        don’t make claims you know little to nothing about.
        do your research… this company supports jobs around the world.. bends over backwards to protect the environment !! w/o them millions would starve !

        spouting liberal agenda is the easy way out.. but it won’t fly when the truth is easy to obtain.

        • JR

          River cited her information, where’s your references backing up your comments. Those are not lies.

          Unethical treatment of animals in large scale factory farms is plenty enough reason to switch to vegetable soap, regardless of whether or not tallow based soap is good or bad for your skin.

          • Pam

            Funny how you totally disregard that her husband works for the plant … hands on vs a professor spewing from a pulpit

        • CC

          A wise man once told me to “follow the money” And I can’t help but wonder if the millions that would die from starvation, are just simsply more valuable as guinea pigs for their self profiting science experiment? I also wonder late at night, why it is prohibited to publish any studies done on vitamin/mineral supplementation at high levels, in the AMA Library.

      • Brittany

        For the most part, humans are not made to eat grains in high quantity. We were meant to eat them on occasion but not as a major food source. Ever hear of wheat belly? That’s why…

    • Anna

      Just so you know, animal fats and vegetable oils make completely different products- when combined with lye, one produces soap and one produces detergent. These two compounds behave very differently because they have different molecular structures (for example, detergents can’t form soap scum). Just a little high school chemistry here… but I agree with your point of using all of the animal and buying local.

      • Shauna Gordon

        I know I’m way late to this post, but as a soapmaker, I simply can’t let this comment stand unchallenged.

        No, animal fats and vegetable fats do not create different products. They both create soap, by definition (soap is, by definition, the salt of a fatty acid; a “salt” in chemistry is the stable result of an alkali and an acid). In fact, the fatty acids, themselves, are the same across the board, whether you use animal fats, vegetable fats, or some combination thereof (there are actually only about half a dozen fatty acids that soapmakers really care about). Additionally, the legal definition (yes, there is one) of soap is the alkali salt of fatty acids (aka – what you get when you mix fats or oils and lye).

        Palm makes a very good tallow replacement, because they both have a high percentage of palmetic acid. Olive oil is actually interchangeable with bear tallow, because both are almost entirely oleic acid. The palm-olive combination is popular, because it’s a vegetable-sourced version of the fatty acids found in tallow. The only two fatty acids used in soapmaking that can’t really be obtained from other sources are lauric acid, from coconut oil (coconut oil is 90% lauric acid, the highest concentration found in nature, by far), and ricinoleic acid from castor oil (which is 90% ricinoleic acid).

        Detergents, on the other hand, are not soaps. The common detergents — SLS and SLES — are organosulfates, salts of alcohol and sulfur. SLS can be made from hydrolyzing coconut or palm kernel oil.

    • Angie

      Thank-you Zee Bee. I am so sick of the fear-mongering these pro-organic types spew on a daily basis. Using words like “sloppy gloppy” really takes away whatever shred of credibility the author was going for here. Add to that the constant use of capitals and italics to make a point, rather than facts from credible sources of information, and it’s a wonder anyone takes this seriously. I was sent this website from a friend when I was inquiring about goat milk soap. I really wish people would seek their information from true and intelligent sources, rather than someone who sounds like a 12 year old on her iPad.

  7. Jessica

    I think you’re missing the point. Buying soap like Dove and Ivory supports animal cruelty if the tallow comes from confined and mistreated animals. Sure, the animal is dead and I’m all for not wasting what can be used, but if demand continues to be high for products that come from these abused animals, then they’ll continue to be abused for the supply.

    I use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap for nearly everything (shower soap, face wash, shampoo, laundry detergent, general purpose cleaner…). I dilute it a lot and a $15 bottle can go a LONG way.

  8. I’m all for using the whole animal! There’s nothing wrong with tallow based bar soap if it comes from humanely raised animals and doesn’t contain a lot of other synthetic junk. Unfortunately, that can be hard to find, especially in your cheap commercial soaps. Enter A Wild Soap Bar. They’re made with 100% certified organic vegetable oils and only safe, natural ingredients. Yep, they’re expensive, but that’s because they’re handmade in the USA with high quality ingredients by skilled artisans who earn a living wage. You get what you pay for. Nuff said.

    • Cass

      Yeah…I’ve had that nasty organic bar crap. Do you understand pH? Because that soap is as alkaline as Dishsoap. There are clean labs in the world that FORMULATE products that are safe, and if they are not, they fix the fucking problem. Hipsters are stupid. I’m getting that on a tshirt. Enjoy your acne, losers

      • JR

        Ever since I switched to natural soap, my chronic acne is gone. Buy pH balanced soap. Simple as that. You think that natural veg soap are all alkaline? That’s ridiculous. Balancing the pH of soap is easy. Do YOU understand pH?

    • Jenna

      To the comments below : and you REALLY think they are humanely raised? These corporations or HUGE. The animal by products they use no doubt come from slaughterhouses, they abuse the animals. They are confined , stuck with antibiotic shots every single day bc they are all stuck so close together they can hardly lay down. You think a huge corporation is getting animal products from a small ethical farmer? It’s just not happening. Take a look for yourself inside of a slaughterhouse. When you can buy some organic soap with FAR less toxic chemicals (nevermind the cow fat) why not just go for the safer/cleaner soap? Not all of them are 3$ a soap go on vitacost some for 1$ or less a bar!

      I have to switch to a less chemical organic soap due to health reasons, don’t wait until you actually have to. All of these chemicals, preservatives and dyes accumulate in our blood! Wake up people!!

  9. Cass

    I a, so tired of this crunchy movement and the greenwashing bullshit. There is NOTHING wrong with dove soap. You have all been baited and reeled in by the Greenwash of the beauty industry.

    • river

      Geez, get over yourself and stop trolling.

    • Anna

      I think saying there is nothing wrong with Dove soap is an exaggeration. You read the post, wherein the harmful ingredients in Dove soap were listed. Tallow is not the villain here- things like Tetrasodium EDTA and BHT are (they’re really potent hormone disrupters). If you are tired of the ‘crunchy movement’, maybe you should stop reading blogs that have ‘crunchy’ in the name. Just a thought.

    • JR

      why are you here?

  10. apple

    i feel slightly awake to the fact that my dove soap isnt as wonderful as i thought it was all these years. today just being curious about what was in my bar of soap, im surprised. I would rather have more natural ingredients in my bar of soap. Thanks for the information.

  11. Sarah

    I have more of a problem with the chemicals used in these mass produced “soaps.” These “soaps” are not even classified by the FDA as soap, they are classified as cosmetics because they cleanse using detergents. A true soap is the resulting ‘salt’ after the chemical reaction between lye and a fat.

    The worst thing about these mass produced ‘soaps’ is that many of the ingredients used in them are carcinogenic or toxic. I’m not lying about the carcinogens. Just research MSDS (the name of the ingredient). Look at section 11. MSDS sheets tell it like it is. As a cancer survivor (who is still battling cancer 12+ years post surgery), who has lost many family members to cancer, I have a real problem with cleaning my skin with toxins.

    Nobody would ever consider eating most of the chemicals in those soaps if they were mixed into food, so why would anybody put that stuff on their skin? The skin absorbs what is put on it. Not only that, but nobody would ever consider washing themselves with liquid laundry detergent, but in all reality that is what people are doing when they use cheap mass produced soap.

    If paying $3 for a bar of soap seems insane, try making your own. It is fun, and fascinating to learn how oils work together to create an amazing bar of soap. After making your own, you might even realize why artisans charge so much for fancy, handcrafted soaps. And most importantly: Your skin will thank you for it!

    • Teresa Taylor

      I’ve just made my third batch of soap. The first was lard only with grapefruit essential oil. The second was lard, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil using chamomile-lavender tea instead of water. This batch is beef tallow I rendered myself, coconut oil and olive oil and the same tea. I’m having a blast!! The first batch was cold process, the second & third were hot process in a crock pot. I cannot wait to have my friends try them out and tell me which they like the best. Oh, tomorrow I’ll do a tallow only with the remaining grapefruit EO (cold process). Lots of fun, very little money spent.

  12. lizg

    In my search for cruelty free body soap, I discovered Made from Earth’s soaps, and it has answered all my prayers for a perfect daily soap. Simple ingredients and a gentle scents – I use the Citrus Lavender and the Blood Orange Soap.

    No drying, no chemical scent, no sllck, artificial feel on the skin. My allergy prone skin is handling it well. My skin is in better shape than it has been in quite a while.

  13. Diane Hamcke

    We have inherited a lovely king-size quilt from our Great Grandmother.
    I want to make sure it is clean before folding it up for the winter.

    The tiny individual stitches must be cotton (made in Germany 100 years ago)

    Should I take it to the dry cleaner to be freshened up or should I bring it to a commercial laundry place with big machines and wash it in cold water or just soak it in the bath tub?

    If so, what is a gentle soap I should use?

    • Anna

      I don’t know if this helps you, but soapwort (saponaria) is used to clean up ancient textiles by archaeologists. It’s a plant that has a natural lather and is very gentle.You can definitely buy it online. Best of luck!

  14. Ken

    All I know is I switched to much better quality soaps a couple of years ago and find I know longer have dry & itchy irritated skin and I can actually rinse it off! One good supplier is sundancesoapery, for the little extra cost its worth it. Anyone paying $8 bucks a bar is quite ridiculous.

  15. While I do care about what I put in and on my body & skin, I’m not crunchy enough to make my own soap. I have discovered a company that only uses the best ingredients and tallow is not one of them. Have you heard of Perfectly Posh? I’d love to send you some samples of some wonderful, some even vegan products. Check out my website and check out our Chunks! HUGE body bars of wonderful, naturally-based, made in the USA, goodness! Thanks for this post – I was researching tallow and stumbled on it. Great read!

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  17. Lee Wright

    Thank you so much for posting this! This was the most informative webpage I found on the topic!

  18. This article and some of the follow up comments were an inciteful and interesting read. Great discussion.

  19. Peg

    A number of soaps now contain very small plastic particles to act as exfoliants. These cannot be removed by waste water treatment systems and end up in lakes and rivers where they are consumed by fish and bond to form harmful concentrations. I would be interested in knowing what soap brands are using such exfoliants and what might be done to convince soap makers they are not essential. It seems to me these additions are another unnecessary “come on” that ends up harming our waterways.

  20. Bev

    Your mailing list is not active.

    Please sign me up when you fix it.

    Thank you.


  21. sue

    It’s more convenient to use natural vegan soa; such as: kirk’s Castille soap, Mrs meyers, Dr bronner, etc… which contains herbal ingredients and free from harsh chemicals and animal fats. Burt bees is also a natural product except it contains GLUCOSE! Do our children have to consume more sugar even when they use soap? Isn’t enough having high fructose syrup in cereals, juice, bread, almost in everything which leads to obesity so do we have to add more sugar in baby shampoo and body wash?

  22. LushGirl

    LUSH soaps are cruelty-free and actually seem to clean better than regular soap.
    They’re more $ but have oils and natural elements. I recently got into their shampoo bars. AWESOME STUFF.

  23. What about the Clearly Natural bars that are sold in places like Fred Meyers? Are those considered safe? I don’t see it on either list. They are fairly inexpensive and if you want scent that doesn’t stick around ( working in the medical field,scent is a no-no) this is the soap for you.

  24. Omg!this is so absolutely freaking discussing! !!

  25. I use Kosher soap it’s coconut oil


  1. […] step number one for me was to find out what the heck that actually is! Turns out it’s just a soap made from olive oil or vegetable oil and lye, which is pretty widely available in stores and […]

  2. […] Crunchy Betty has a great article about the subject and, as she rightly points out, the main problem with the animal sourced ingredient is that it is mass-produced.  This means it has to come from cattle that are mass-produced.  I’m pretty sure you have heard about the types of conditions that mass-produced cattle usually live in.  Mass produced cattle tends to equal badly treated cattle.   PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have lots of information about the mistreatment of mass-produced cattle, and often animals die early because they don’t get proper care.  It is often these mistreated animals that never make it to the abattoir that are used to make soap tallow.  I say no to mass-produced cows.  So I say no to mass-produced soaps made with tallow. […]

  3. […] Crunchy Betty has a great article about the subject and, as she rightly points out, the main problem with the animal sourced ingredient is that it is mass-produced.  This means that the cattle used to make it must be mass-produced.  I’m pretty sure you have heard about the types of conditions that mass-produced cattle usually live in.  Mass-produced cattle tends to equal badly treated cattle.   PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have lots of information about the mistreatment of mass-produced cattle, and often animals die early because they don’t get proper care.  It is often these mistreated animals, that never make it to the abattoir, that are used to make soap tallow.  I say no to mass-produced cows.  So I say no to mass-produced soaps made with tallow. […]

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