- My order hasn't arrived yet. Where is it?
- Organic SOAP!? Does it REALLY matter?
- So what exactly does "organic" mean?
- I read somewhere that soap is too harsh to be used on skin or hair. Is that true?
- I read somewhere that tea tree oil and lavender could cause breast-tissue-growth in baby boys. Is it safe to scent my products with these oils?
- So what's the deal with lanolin content anyway? How much lanolin does your soap have in it?
- How do you make your soap?
- What do you make your soap with?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What happened to Johanna's Blend?
My order hasn't arrived yet!
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Organic SOAP?!? Does it REALLY matter?
YES! Soap is made by combining lye with fats or oils. Fats and oils used for soap usually come from plants. Plants are treated with all kinds of nasty things like pesticides and chemical fertilizers and the oils are often extracted from the leaves and stems using harsh solvents. Chemical residues from these processes are not saponified (turned into soap). They're simply carried into the final soap product and can react unpredictably with the lye. You don't want this stuff on your clothing and you certainly don't want it on your skin! While the jury is still out on the relative and cumulative toxicity of the residues left on our clothing and skin, what we do know about the harmful effects of pesticides and chemical fertilizers on our enviroment and the creatures we share it with certainly makes the organic effort more than worthwhile!
So what exactly does "organic" MEAN?!?
In order to comply with the United States' USDA NOP labelling standards for FOOD products "A raw or processed agricultural product sold, labeled, or represented as "organic" must contain (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt) not less than 95 percent organically produced raw or processed agricultural products. Any remaining product ingredients must be organically produced, unless not commercially available in organic form..." Our organic wool wash bars, organic liquid wool wash, and organic lanolin (and all other products labelled as organic) meet or exceed this requirement. At this time, producers of COSMETIC, LAUNDRY-care, and HOUSEHOLD-cleaning products MAY have their products certified (for a hefty fee), and use the USDA seal on their packaging, but testing, registration, and/or certification are VOLUNTARY, and labelling terms like "organic", "sustainable", "biodegradable" or "all-natural" are not regulated for these types of products.
It is not our style to attack, belittle, or criticize other brands, but we will defend ourselves...Other wool-care product producers have made the false accusation that we are labelling our products illegally, citing the above USDA labelling laws, and by claiming that lanolin is an "agricultural product" but neglecting to inform you that the USDA has no jurisdiction over the labelling of laundry care or cosmetic products and by ignoring the USDA's legal definition of an agricultural product. (you don't eat lanolin do you?!) You can read the laws here. They also claim that because you need water to make soap, and because the amount of water you would need for a batch amounts to more than 5%, that we violate this rule. Again, they forget that water is not a final ingredient. Soaps are saponified oils. Ever buy a bar of olive oil, lye, and water?...nope, a correctly labelled (INCL nomenclature) bar of soap will say: sodium olivate. Just as there is no lye the soap after cooking, so also is there little-to-no water (once they've dried for a week or so), and therefore organic percentages fall easily within the necessary limits for truthful labelling. You might also find it interesting that these same wool-care product producers suggest that the supervision of the FDA (more laws and regulations to squash the little-guy while the big, fat, greedy corporate monsters get rich and continue poisoning us and our land) is the best way to ensure the safety and "organic-ness" of what you buy. Considering the fact that the FDA insisted that my imported Australian certified organic lanolin be registered as a food product, and their less-than-stellar success with food-safety standards, I'm not entirely convinced that they're the ultimate authority to rely on. You can read more about the Australian certification of our organic lanolin (which is accredited by and therefore accepted by, equal to, and as valid as any certification from the USDA) here.
I read somewhere that soap is too harsh to be used on skin or hair. Is that true?
The billion dollar chemical detergent industry would have you believe that it is! The truth is, it depends on what type of soap you are using and how it was made. There are so many oils that can be used for soap making. Some, when saponified, are excellent but very harsh cleansers. Others leave a lot of residue (typically those that make a lot of large bubbles). Naturally, using such oils in high proportions (or at all) in a soap meant for delicate baby skin or the protein fibers of your hair or your wool would not be wise. Soap that is made with oils chosen for their mildness; soap that is made with a recipe that has a moderate amount of superfatting (to ensure that all of the lye is neutralized and that extra oils are present to condition and moisturize); soap that leaves little or no residue is perfectly fine for you, your baby, your hair, and yes, even your wool.
I read somewhere that tea tree oil and lavender could cause breast-tissue-growth in baby boys. Is it safe to scent my products with these oils?
Unbelieveable... that a multi-million dollar company with hundreds of researchers and scientists at its disposal would dare to make such an ignorant claim (excuse). Did it occur to them, just once, perhaps, that it could be the parabens in that lotion that caused the problem?!
So what's the deal with lanolin content anyway? How much lanolin does your soap have in it?
A lot of wool wash bars and liquids attempt to amaze you with claims like "contains 35% lanolin!" (I've even seen it as high as 50%) Well, I hate to burst your bubble (no pun intended) but you can't just dump a bunch of lanolin into a soap recipe and call it wool wash! We've done our research and our testing, and to tell you the truth, 35% lanolin is actually nothing to write home about. Lanolin (or any other wax, fat, or oil for that matter) can be added to soap during one of two points in the soapmaking process. Added to the lye at the beginning, the lanolin would be converted to soap, and not a very good one I might add. You can click here and play around with a respected and commonly used soaping calculator on the net...you'll see that SAPONIFIED lanolin does not make a mild soap, a hard bar, nor a particularly good cleanser. It doesn't make nice bubbles or condition either. It will bleach your wool and leave your skin feeling pinched and ashy. Added at the end of soapmaking, lanolin would be used for what is called superfatting. Since the lye has already reacted with the base oils and turned them into soap, any extra wax, fat, or oil you add is suspended in the soap and is readily available in its complete molecular state to condition, enrich, and moisturize the skin and/or wool. Any soaper worth their salt (another pun, sorry) knows that soaps need not be superfatted above 10%. They'd make ridiculously soft bars that would disappear after only a few washes and leave your skin and your wool feeling greasy and sticky. Simply put, 35% lanolin, or anything close to it, no matter when it is added to the soap is a waste of money and materials. It's also worth asking if the wool wash bar you plan to buy is a true soap or just a pre-made melt & pour soap base with lanolin added.
These pre-made soap bases come in large blocks and are sold, by the pound, (incredibly cheaply I might add...the profit margin is HUGE!) to "soap makers" who melt them, add fragrance or other additives,pour it in a cutesy mold, and call it their own. Because they are incredibly hard, large amounts of lanolin, shea butter, or any other oil can be added to the soap base without making them too terribly soft, but it is done at the expense of their already weak cleaning power. Glycerin soaps do have their place in the world,...they are usually translucent, making them ideal for artistic endeavors like adding colorant or exfoliants, or pouring into intricate molds, and because they can be very mild... there is a lovely organic one that is great for babies and tender skin. They even make decent laundry soap because they are highly water soluble and don't leave heavy residue like some cheaply made cold-process soaps do. Unfortunately because they do not clean well, most commercially available glycerine soaps have added detergents, usually SLS or one of it's evil cousins, as a foam/lather booster, making the completely unacceptable for both washing wool and people, in my opinion. The ones that are detergent free tend to increase their cleaning power by using oils like coconut or palm in high or even exclusive percentages, which leads to a harsh, stripping soap, again, no good for wool or skin. Glycerin soaps have a high alcohol content, making them very drying, and many require the use of preservatives, hardeners, or other chemicals to prevent sweating, discoloration, rancidity, and/or oxidation.
Another thing to consider is the lanolin content of many popular liquid wool care products. You may notice that the liquid in their bottles is a homogeneous mixture, meaning that it is the same from top to bottom and doesn't require shaking before use. (Sudz, if left to stand, will separate into layers) The reason other wool washes do not separate as ours does is because they have added a chemical dispersant to the solution or they're using PEG lanolin (chemically altered lanolin that is water soluble). Dispersants are used in water-based cosmetic and laundering products containing water and fats to ensure that they do not separate. Incidentally, they also function to reduce the adherence of oils(lanolin) to solid surfaces. Quite useful really, if you don't want the oil(lanolin) to remain on the fibers after rinsing, or if you have oil(lanolin) on the fibers that you wish to remove! A dispersant renders the lanolin water soluble and has the interesting and unfortunate consequence of doing the very same thing to the lanolin that is already in and on your wool! In other words, less than ideal for wool soakers and covers and actually necessitating more frequent lanolizing!
How do you make your soap?
There are many different ways to make soap, and generally speaking, the outcome SHOULD be the same, a nice smooth bar of soap. However, some methods allow the maker to "cheat" a little bit. These little tricks make soap-making easier, and often cheaper, but the risk of error is greater and the consequences for your skin, wool, and pocket book are dire. You will never get Sudz that is uncured (due to improper dry time, method, or storage), has lye pockets (due most often to oversized batches and undersized stirring equipment), or one that has been whipped (a deceptive practice giving it volume and size, but not density or weight) Our hot-process cooking processes, for both the bar and the liquid soap, ensure that the soap is rich in natural glycerin, a byproduct of soapmaking and that the lye is completely neutralized. Our bars ALWAYS have a skin and wool-safe pH of 7 or less. We will NEVER sell you a caustic bar of soap. We do not use pre-made soap or detergent bases and we don't inflate our recipes with excessive amounts of water.
What do you make your soap with?
Our product formulations were developed and perfected after HOURS of late-night, insomnia-induced, coffee-enabled research. Countless batches with varying formulations were sent to a discriminating panel of wool-crazy cloth diapering moms for testing and review. Their suggestions for improvement were followed, resulting in the perfection currently for sale! The organic oils selected for the soaps (coconut, jojoba, and olive to name a few) are very mild, cleanse gently, offer a silky lather, and last a long time. The organic jojoba oil used in the spray was selected for its moisturizing, conditioning, emollient, and anti-oxidant properties. Despite their beneficial properties, out of concern for potential allergic complications, we do not, nor will we ever, use almond oil, or it's close cousins, apricot and peach kernel oils without disclosing it to the customer. Wheat germ oil was phased our of our recipes in 2007 so Sudz are safe for gluten-sensitive clients! Naturally, our actual recipes are top-secret, locked in the family vault and under constant guard by a viscious, snarling canine, Riley the Attack-Mutt. He won't even let ME get in! Thank goodness I have the recipes memorized!
Why do you do what you do?
It may surprise you to learn that we are not a typical "green" business...full of dire warnings about global warming and a dying earth. In Genesis, Chaper 8, verse 22, our God, Creator of all that is seen and unseen, promised: "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." We use cloth diapers, eat organic foods, and run this business sustainably, not because we believe His creation is on the brink of human destruction, but because we were commanded to care for it (Genesis 1:26-31) and we intend to obey.
What happened to Johanna's Blend?
Johanna's Blend was made with Sandalwood essential oil. We learned that sandalwood is an endangered species, and as such, felt compelled to remove that choice from our scents list. We are happy to use Peru Balsam or Amyris (aka: West Indian Sandalwood, though it's not actually true sandalwood at all, it's a balsam!) as a substitute.