Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't see the answer to your question here please get in touch with us. We are committed to making it as easy as possible for you to make well-informed product decisions. Plus, we learn so much from the questions we are asked.Thank you for helping us grow & evolve!  

 

Do you use palm oil? If so, in what products & how is it harvested?

No. There is no palm oil in our seawater 3-in-1 bars (shampoo, shave, soap). There is also no palm oil in our bath & foot soaks, deodorant, Bum Balm, creams or body oils.  

Yes. We make all of our soaps & pet shampoo with vegetable shortening from Bunge, which is a mixture of soybean oil & palm oil that is sustainably harvested (we are so glad!). Our Pure & Simple Soap is part of our ChoiceTM Laundry Powder, so it includes palm oil, too.

We contacted Bunge several years back to express our concern (and your's) about their palm oil policy. We were very pleased to learn that they had a policy in place for sourcing sustainably harvested palm oil. Plus, even more pleased to see they have evolved & improved it over the years. 

Bunge's sustainable palm oil sourcing policy. 

Bunge's submission to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil 

Every ingredient is provided in plain language on every product on this web site. We also include every ingredient on our labels. It is very important to us to be transparent & we value this question :-)

 

Are all of your ingredients 100% natural?

We promise to only use high-quality 100% natural ingredients, with one exception. The only synthetic ingredient we will ever use is lye, otherwise known as 'sodium hydroxide'. 

Soap making is a wonderful blend of science & art. We'll focus on the science part for this question. Think about this . . . when you shake up a bottle of salad dressing the oil & vinegar are mixed together barely long enough to pour on a salad, then they switch back into separate layers. 

Similarly, the two main ingredients in soap are oil & water, which simply will not combine no matter how hard you shake them. Chemistry is required to turn them into soap, which is where the lye comes in. 

Crystals of lye are mixed into water & immediately heat up to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once that mixture cools it is carefully poured the melted oils, then the new mixture stirred at regular intervals while the soap cooks. The fancy name for this is the "saponification process" . . . the process of becoming soap. 

The bottom line is that no lye = no soap. It is simply a chemical necessity. Read on below for more info on the topic of lye & how we ensure it is safely used to create products that are gentle for you to use.

 

Isn't it possible to have a natural lye?

It sure is! Back in the olden times my great-grandmother, Charlotte, used to make soap with rendered fat & lye made from wood ash & rain water. The process of making the lye solution was fairly imprecise. It involved putting rocks & sea shells in the bottom of a wooden barrel, adding lots of wood ash from burning certain kinds of trees, then rain water to cover it up. This mixture was left to sit for a period of time. Eventually, a spigot near the bottom of the barrel was opened to allow solution to run into another wooden bucket. I've heard of a test being done with an egg (I think it had to float) to determine if the lye was ready to use. 

As you can see there are a lot of variables involved in making a natural lye solution. It's simply too risky for us to do with confidence. Lye is a caustic soda that must be handled very carefully & included in any recipe with precision.  

All of our recipes are well-balanced to ensure there is a minimum of one molecule of fats for every molecule of lye solution. It is super important that there never be more molecules of lye solution than fat. Why? If that were to happen the resulting soap would be very drying & not suitable for folks with sensitive skin. That is exactly the opposite of the soothing bars we make :-)

We would love, love, love to make natural lye with consistent qualities. Then we will be able to say with great pride that our soaps are 100% natural, too!!! Until that happy day, however, we will continue to use the synthetic lye to make sure that the products you receive are predictably safe & gentle for you to use.