Ask the Soapman
Love your products!
What is the best product to use as a shaving cream for my husband?
Nancy Lee Cryer
I always recommend the Butter Bar. It has no real scent and a nice creamy lather. Wet face with warm water and work up a good lather on hand. For a real treat get him a boar bristle brush and a coffee cup to lather it up in. The bars are easily cut in half with a table knife to fit into the cup. For skin that has zits and odd things going on use the Tea Tree Bar. I also recommend picking up the Toothbrush Sanitizer. Not only does it kill about a trillion germs living on your toothbrush; a quick spray on the razor kills germs and other biology that can reinfect the skin.
Thanks for Writing!
I saw the article on the Liberia, West Africa visit and was wondering – are you planning to carry African Black soaps?
Hard to find a good Black Soap these days! The black color comes from using old palm kernel oil from the local wild trees. It gets darker as it gets older. The Black Soap I made in Ghana was actually brown and we had similar results with improved Iron Soap (a quick version of black soap) (when made with improved techniques). We may carry good quality Liberian box soap (African cold process bar soap) in the future as my students there continue to improve at their businesses. All the Best!
Are the products containing Aloe Vera latex free?
Ok – good to go. Please avoid our shea and cocobutter containing products: Green Gold, Butter Bar, Cocoa Butter Unscented, and Shea Butter (various sizes).
Everything else is latex free and safe. Our organic aloe vera has been guaranteed latex free by the supplier.
I have dreadlocks and I find them much easier to wash with a bar of soap as opposed to a liquid. Some things that are great for dreads are aloe and peppermint, so the peppermint magic scented aloe castile liquid soap fit the bill almost perfectly, but it’s a liquid. I was wondering if you have that or anything really really similar to it in bar form, or if making that in bar form is even a possibility. Thanks so much!
Hello Anna in VT!
Thanks for asking.
Many dreadlocks have been successfully washed using our very special liquid soap.
I suspect yours will be happy as well.
What I do not know is what kind of hair you have and how often you wash your dreads, as these are factors that might affect your choice of dread soaps. Peppermint oil is stringent. If you have oily hair and wash them every four days or more this might be appropriate. If your hair is thin and not oily I would continue using handmade process bar soaps as these are the mildest and most appropriate for use on fine hair. I find that essential oils and hair do not mix well and over time the hair gets weird. It is hard to describe but the essential oils seem to make it dry and oily at the same time after 3-4 uses. There are three natural options I can offer you.
The first is unscented liquid castile soap. I put this first as it is the most likely product for you to use. People with very fine hair seldom go dread but if they do, our Coco Butter Unscented would be a very nice choice. I use the Butter Bar on my hair as my skin prefers this during the cold heating season which makes the whole process easier. Another option is our Baby Wash and Shampoo. This is a gel soap –thicker than liquid soap and more shampoo like in consistency. The organic guar gum thickener makes it a bit harder to wash out but it is a beautiful product with no essential oils added (I only recommend that essential oils be used on infants under 6 months of age to control diaper rash, a type of skin fungus).
Please email back and tell me which soap worked best for you and your hair type to add to my own body of knowledge.
I saw that a woman was recommended to use the lavendar gel body wash on her baby. I’m trying to buy gifts for baby showers, and was wondering if that lavender gel body wash is truly safe for all babies since it’s not listed under your “baby care” section of the website. Also, I saw people making baby wipes with castile soap, would you recommend your soap for that use? Thank you!
Great questions! Here is my opinion on the subject.
The Soapman does not recommend using essential oils, detergents (as in shampoos) or petrochemical unguents (mineral oil and paste) on infants under 6 months of age.
My reasoning is:
a) infant livers are not full functional until 6 months
b) there is an increased risk of molecule specific sensitivities when infants are exposed to the modern world too quickly
c) a Danish study with infant mice strongly indicates that Sodium Lauryl(eth) Sulfate is quickly absorbed through skin and can potentially damage the optic nerve (skin to optic nerve, NOT absorption through the eyes to the optic nerve) Extrapolating human time from mouse time we once again get the 6 month age limit.
d) Castile soap baby wipes is a pretty cool idea and way safer than detergent wipes. Castile soap is the natural liquid foaming agent that replaces detergent foaming bases.
e) I have a saying, “Scent is for moma. Baby doesn’t care”. That is why our simplest, least reactive soap gel is the unscented baby gel/shampoo
just wanted to know if there is lye or do you use glycerin? in your body soaps.
Sure. This is a good question. Crafters like to use something called Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap. This is a semi clear block that can be melted down and will reform upon cooling. It is fun to add strange scents and colors and even to put little toys inside of the bars. Thing is, these so-called “Glycerin Soaps” are mostly chemicals that you might want to avoid. M&P “soaps” may or may not contain any actual soap molecules. The foaming agent is triethanolalomine, about 15%. Glycerin (vegetable, animal or synthetic) is about 20%, and the bulk of the formula is propylene glycol (antifreeze). Soap molecules can be added to the ingredients to further obfuscate (cover up and confuse) the identification of the product.
While some people like to use M&P bars on their skin, many others do not, particularly people with Reactive Bodies or sensitive skin, which are a good portion of our Vermont Soap family of loyal customers. Vermont Soap is home to Master Soapmakers, who are quite dedicated to their craft. We start with certified organic vegetable oils and mix them with water and lye to make soap and glycerin. After several hours the batch thickens and is poured into wooden block molds. Several days later the molds are opened and the blocks are cut into bricks and then into bars. Next we use a month long slow curing process to perfect the bar. THIS is how the mildest soap that can be made is created.
All the Best!
Will you make wonderful lipbalms? I like your organic products very much. They are so natural and wonderful. Hopefully you can make wonderful lip balms
Yes! We are working on this right now. Thanks for asking.
I have eczema and the prevailing medial opinion is to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate. The other recommendation is to avoid soaps with perfumes or dyes. Which bar soap should I select? The ones you have listed for sale all have a perfume in them.
My personal take on eczema is that it starts as a topical dermatitis and if left untreated can become infected ie “wet or weeping eczema”.
If you have the more extreme form Porter’s Lotion is an excellent product to try. It is the original hand sanitizer from the 1890’s and it really works when infection is present.
But the initial issue of product residues touching your skin still needs to be addressed, and that is where Vermont Soap comes in.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and its many cousins and versions is actually best thought of as a “detergent bundle”. You may be able to find less de-greasing and irritating detergents, but it is also possible that you will have increasing reactions to them over time as well. As a detergent sensitive individual I formulate non detergent soap and natural oil based alternatives for Reactive Bodies.
Laundry, dishes, dishwasher, per shampoo, car wash etc: Start with a gallon of Unscented Castile Liquid Soap.
Hand Soap: Unscented Foamer
Moisturizer: Green Gold Unscented
Cuticle Cream: Shea Butter
Body Soap: Butter Bar
This is easy once you get used to products that work slightly differently from the detergent products you are used to.
Add soap to water for low foam
Add water to soap for high foam
Soap likes hot water!
Wash out your washing machine in hot water if you can before switching over. Make sure everything that touches your skin – esp pillow cases and a top and bottom sheet is cleaned in castile soap. Detergents are on your dishes and in your clothes. Within a few days you will either notice a difference or you are not particularly detergent sensitive and should continue your detective work of finding which molecules trigger your eczema flare ups.
All the Best!
Do you happen to sell the camp soap in one gallon containers? If so, how much are the containers?
Liquid sunshine is very close to camping soap. You can buy gallons for the $49.95 every day special.
You should think about making Neem toothpaste. An ayurvedic doctor on the Dr. Oz show recommended using Neem toothpaste, but the ones I found online have SLS, xylitol and other bad ingredients. If you do make it, please leave out peppermint or mint which I hate in mouth products.
Neem is awesome. When I am teaching scientific soapmaking in Africa I always whittle Neem Toothpicks to floss my teeth with. The taste is a bit much but my gums love it.
You know Janice, The Soapman loves foam; just not in one’s mouth. I am not a toothpaste guy. The whole foaming paste thing is strange to me.
You know all those weird detergent chemical that are even in the natural toothpastes? They are in there as foaming agents and emulsifiers. They help to hold the paste together and to slip thrugh the filler without sticking or forming air bubbles. Toothpaste may be great for cavities, but detergent chemicals increase skin permeability dramatically, increasing the risk for gum disease, and making it more difficult to get rid of it if you have it.
does this not have a fragrance or odor to it Organic Rosemary Extract
Rosemary extract is NOT rosemary oil and has no odor. It is the scentless preservative we use in all of our products. Thanks for asking.
Hi– Love your products (especially the Lemongrass Zen in all the varieties.) I notice that you seem to have discontinued the Lemongrass Zen Shower Gel in the 8 oz pump dispensers. Will you be restocking this? If not, does that also mean that you are discontinuing the Lemongrass Zen shower gel? Thanks very much-Len
Thanks for the email and for your question.
We do have plans to bring back Lemongrass Zen in the 8oz size later this year.
Right now you can buy gallons of it on line – that is the only size we offer at the moment.
Thanks for your input!
What is the texture of the green golden moisturizer? How could i package it for customers? In a jar or bottle with pump? Would it be safe on all skin types for a facial moisturizer?
Green Gold is a squeezable salve like consistency. We can fill your containers with it – 336 min. Good for All skin types that require a moisturizer!
I have recently become very allergic to sodium laurel sulfate and a huge host of other items ………… I am looking for some type of soap for my laundry and cannot seem to find anything – what would you recommend? Can the Castile soap be used? In what amount per load? Any help would be appreciated greatly. Thank You
Sorry to hear that you have a Reactive Body right now.
Detergent sensitivity is more common than you might think.
Unscented Castile liquid soap by the gallon (5 gal cube is the BEST buy) is great for laundry. Use this for dishes and dish washers too.
Liquid Sunshine is excellent IF you are not reactive to citrus oils.
Unscented Foaming Hand Soap is a blessing for daily hand washing.
Regular customers save an additional 5% through our Bubble Bucks Loyalty Program (launching soon!)
Remember: It is not that you are broken. That chemical stuff is no good for you anyway!
All the Best!
I have purchased some cubetainers and was wondering if you sold some type of pump to get the product out of the container?
Open the portal (white plastic round thing taped to the box) and reach inside.
There is a dispensing spigot right inside.
Place the cube with the portal facing up to the sky and pull out the spout in there.
Unscrew the spout and firmly screw in the spigot.
Ready to go!
I really like your soap line. I was wondering if you had any plans to make a hand moisturizer line of products. All the natural lotions I’ve used do not leave my hands smooth. Would you happen to have any insight to what ingredients I should be looking for to find a better natural hand cream? I noticed that you have one moisturizer that contains Organic St. John’s Wort Extract. I prefer not to use it because I’m breast feeding and I’ve read that St. John’s Wort should be avoided.
Also, I was looking at your products for private labeling. Can your product be bought at wholesale and rebottled not using your bottles? Do you offer label services? Thank you in advance for your time and information that you provide.
A little topical St Johns Wort oil for inflammation is fine. Taking it for internally for mood swings is another story.
Internal St Johns Wort use only seems effective for about 6-8 weeks. Then the body becomes used to it.
If you are still concerned about though, use our unscented shea butter instead.
We have a new product coming by early April called Choco-Lucious Organic Skin Smoothie. You might like it too!
Question: Do your aloe baby, and unscented fragrance free cocoa butter bar soaps lather well? I have sensitive skin, as well as chemical sensitivities, and am searching for a gentle fragrance free bath soap. Hope to hear from you.
The Unscented coco butter bar soap lathers pretty well, and it does have its fans.
But my favorite is the Butter Bar. Fragrance free but it has a light herbal aroma from the inflammation soothing herbs we put into it.
I have thin hair and use the Butter Bar instead of shampoo (and also for shaving).
I have a jug of the Aloe Castile Liquid Soap. The info on label indicates that it can be used for laundry. How much would you suggest for one load of laundry? – thanks!
All water, load size and degree of soiling vary, so here are some tips for you:
If you can, get a little water into the machine, then add the soap, then add the laundry.
Use directly on heavily soiled spots like pants knees.
Warm and hot water is best for general cleaning.
The rule of thumb is that you need just enough soap to make the barest amount of foam on top of the load at the beginning of the cycle.
The more you do your laundry in castile soap the less you need per load. Start with 1/3 cup or so and reduce to ¼ cup after 3-4 loads are run through the machine.
Thanks for your help, Larry. I confess, it is weird not to have all the bubbles. But I am trusting that the clothes are still getting clean – perhaps better cleaned than before.
Ok – ready for this?
Soap and detergent are evil opposites.
When soap meets the detergent build up on the inside of the spinner in your laundry machine it begins to strip it off.
This neutralizes some of the soap that would be used to clean your clothes. The more you use it the less you need.
Remember that fabric softener (more scent and detergent) is never used with our products since they will just cancel each other out.
You will find that the aloe in the formula will soften up your clothes nicely.
Use a hot or warm rinse setting for best results.
Do any of your ingredients and packaging come from China?
Chinese Organic has a bad reputation and we do not want to be faced with a recall because an ingredient we use turns out to be fake organic.
We do not like buying bottles from China and have changed suppliers over the years as many of them moved production off shore.
I cannot guarantee 100% China free all the time, but our prime bottle suppliers all manufacture in the USA and that is why they have our business.
We do buy off lots of nail brushes from Chinese suppliers, We also buy Ayate washcloths from a women’s co-op in Mexico.
All the Best,
I have hard that even organic soaps can have chemical residues from the processes used to sterilize the containers. (as in the liquid soap bottles)
Can you shed some light on this subject and ..What chemicals/processes do you use in the preparation of the soap bottles.
Wow! Another great question.
As a certified organic factory everything that might touch or contaminate the soap is looked at. Certified organic means audited natural and most certifiers take their jobs very seriously. If the product is CERTIFIED ORGANIC it is as safe as they can make it and you can be assured no extra artificial disinfectant is used in your bottle.
Our factory disinfectant is alcohol. We rinse out our filling hose and lines with a hot water rinse, then we follow with alcohol. This evaporates off in about 10 minutes, but our protocol is to wait at least a ½ hour before using to be sure.
Soap kills germs, so we do not pre-disinfect ANY bottles we fill here. Every extra step adds time and money and we prefer keeping our bottles sealed in bags inside boxes until we use them to trying to pre-treat a bottle.
Hi Larry, I’ve been a hair stylist for 30 years and struggle with finding the purist haircare possible. I don’t see any hair cleansers in your lineup (?)
If I could figure out how to make a truly organic shampoo I would be emailing you from a sailboat in the South Pacific.
Here is what I have learned from working on this for the past 20 years:
1) Hair does not like essential oils esp when used over time.
2) Fine hair does real well with the Butter Bar (I have been using it for over 10 years with great results) but most Americans are not used to washing their hair with a bar soap and only fine hair gets good results.
3) Liquid soaps as is are too drying except as a Dreads Wash – where they work very well.
4) We have a mild gel soap marketed as BabyWash and Shampoo (no essential oils). Most babies tend to have fine hair and often do not get their hair washed every day so we are generally getting good results from that product. You can give a try and see how it works for you.
5) And lastly, soap based products tend to lighten hair and remove color. Dyed hair and soap are not a mix.
This leaves us the option of making a better detergent shampoo. It would have to be a less than natural formulation but we could make it less harmful that most formulations out there. Not sure we want to go in that direction but it would be worth polling our customers to learn what they want.
All the Best!
Are all ingredients and packaging made in USA?
We use a lot of certified organic palm and coconut oils. These are not grown on the continental US in any marketable amount. We buy these ingredients from an organic cooperative in Brazil that is recognized world wide for having the smallest carbon footprint of all the palm oil producer world wide. For every acre under production they put 3 acres into a Nature Preserve. We get our famous organic shea butter from Ghana, the result of 10 years of volunteer efforts in West Africa to improve the shelf life of village made shea butter while helping African women in remote villages. Additionally, our shea butter is HIPPO FRIENDLY contributing to the care and preservation of the last remaining black pygmy hippos in the region.
Our essential oils come from all around the world; Bulgaria, Canada, India and the US. Our peppermint oil, most of the herbs we use, most of our packaging, labels and bottles, all of our displays, our wooden soap dishes and hand woven washcloths are all made in USA; where we take raw materials from around the world and craft some of the mildest and most well made soap products manufactured anywhere in the world today.
Thanks for asking and for thinking about local issues.
We like to say, “Buy local. The job you save may be your own”.
All the Best,
I am interested in your shea butter to make soap in different shapes to sell in my store. Besides fragrance, do I have to add anything else. I have made some in the past with some molds I have, but have not worked with raw shea butter. Please advise. I am interested in 55 lbs to start.
A good soap base starts with palm oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Exotic oils like shea butter might be 10% or less of the total oils used. We also sell shea butter in 20lb and 4lb sizes to get you going.
Can I purchase all of your products without labels or are there some which are not sold that way? Thanks!
Good Question Linda:
First, you can buy everything we make in bulk. We sell 1 gal bottles, 5 gal self dispensing cubes, 50gal drums and 275gal totes.
We also sell the bottles and caps you need. Look for our new packaging and bottle section in the Private Label side of the website on or about March 1, 2013.
Vermont Soap also has a 336* Program. Here, we will put your label on our product with a 336 minimum at our standard wholesale pricing.
Give us a call if you have questions: 802-388-4302 M-F Eastern Time
Hey whats up with these gallon pricing for foaming hand soap? I have never paid $49 a gallon, around $25 each at a discount.
Sounds like we have been seeing you at some of the Organic Conventions we do around the region. Our NOFA Show Special for years has been $25 for gallons of Liquid Sunshine (which is basically wholesale pricing). You can still pay around $25/gal when you buy a 5gal self dispensing cube. Or come on down to our Discount Factory Outlet in Middlebury, VT where we sell gallons for $35 every day.
Vermont Soap is a sponsor at Solarfest, held each summer in Middletown Springs, VT. We will be selling $25 gallons there this year – hope to see you too!
What is your best product for hand washing dishes?
I like Liquid Sunshine, Lemongrass and Unscented; in that order. Most liquid castile soaps including Unscented will do a good job for you without the chemical detergents and residues. Most of us Americans have gotten used to lots and lots of long lasting foam when we wash our dishes. Synthetic detergents can be formulated to foam better and last longer than most soap products ever could so natural soap is used a little bit differently.
Rather than squirting the liquid into a basin and washing from there, you will want to saturate your scrubby applicator as your primary soap source. I like to put a little into the basin and also put some in the applicator. Set really greasy pans to soak in their own hot water and soap. Always use a hot water rinse for best results!
So for hand dishwashing, for the most natural and safe and effective product, the Liquid Sunshine Nontoxic Cleaner Concentrate is better than the Organic Castile Liquid Soaps? And which is the most natural and safe and effective product for laundry? I’m excited about your product and looking forward to trying several items, but finding dish washing liquid I feel comfortable with has been almost impossible. By the way, I discovered your company through Mary Jane’s Farm magazine!
Thank you so much,
Nancy Lee Cryer
Do you offer an affiliate sales program?
Liquid Sunshine is a kind of Castile Liquid Soap so it is all in the family. The least reactive product would be unscented castile soap if there is a chance you react to orange oil or even lavender oil. If not, I really do like the extra grease cutting we get from the Liquid Sunshine citrus blend. Whatever product you choose you can use it for laundry, dishes, hand cleaning etc. Look at other posts and the Liquid Sunshine web page for more information and tips on using our products. All the Best!
Can I use the liquid sunshine in the dishwasher as a detergent? If so, would I use the amount recommended by the dishwasher or would I need to dilute it? Can you dilute the liquid sunshine to use as a foaming handsoap? If so, what would the ratio be?
You can indeed use Liquid Sunshine in your dishwasher. Use about the same amount as with any concentrate, about 1/3 cup. To refill your foamer bottle first rinse the bottle thoroughly, then fill about ½ with warm water. Slowly add another ½ bottle of Liquid Sunshine. Screw the top on and rinse off the bottle. That’s it!
Could you tell me a little bit about your bi-products/waste?
I am in the manure and organic waste to energy field. The bi-product from soap making can be a great asset to this type of system, and I have a farm in your area that is looking at the possibility of one. So a few questions….
How much waste do you create?
Would you be willing to divert this waste to a local farm for energy production purposes?
What type s of waste do you have to possibly contribute?
Thank you for your time!
Chantal Beliveau, P.E.
What a terrific question!
Vermont has a long composting tradition, and we sent some of our soap waste up to the Intervale composting facility in Burlington, Vermont for testing some years ago. We found that even certified organic soap does not break down well and eventually gave up on the track. Instead we focused on re-use of our soap waste, creating Sudzy Putty Molding Soap. We also generate some small amount of waste vegetable oil which gets recycled into bio-diesel.
Wishing you all the Best,
I know that ph Balance is vital for the oxygenation of our cells, mineral absorption, enzymatic processes and metabolic processes.
So my question is, do your shampoos keep our ph Balance and are they safe for the immune system?
While we do not currently make shampoos, we do make a lot of products for your skin.
Soap is the hygienic cleanser out bodies evolved to use. It kills germs but does not harm our skin.
Poorly made soap has excess alkali in it, and thus would have a pH that is harsh and drying on your skin.
Properly made soap products have a pH your soap can work with and will not dry out your skin.
And yes! Natural soap is GOOD for your skin! (and your immune system).
All the Best,
I’ve read lots of your posts about the effect of detergents on skin when used in body cleaning products and laundry products. Another detergent I’ve been thinking about in my house is the one I use in my dishwasher. Is there any research into the effects of eating and cooking with dishes washed in detergent? Are the chemicals getting transferred into our bodies or do they always rinse off completely? Thanks for all the great information you provide on your website.
What a great question.
Back when I was a hippy I lived in a co-operative household. One of my jobs was to do the dishes. Being young and foolish I rinsed the dishes in cold water trying to be more ecological. We were using common dish detergent products at that time. Well, all of us started getting cold symptoms that never went away. After months of this a Doctor asked if we rinsed our dishes in cold water. Sure enough, once we stopped ingesting detergents we all got better.
First lesson is to rinse your dishes (and your clothes) in hot water to remove detergent residues.
Second lesson is to replace detergent chemicals with natural liquid soap!
All the Best,
I have bought a cube of your baby shower gel and just love it. I am looking into your shea butter and have a few questions. On the wholesale page it says it is raw unrefined but when I looked at the question and answers to the Soapman it says you refine it yourselves and add rosemary extract. I am confused is it raw or refined. I am also curious how you remove the latex so that it still is an unrefined product.
Hey – you’re right Shelly!
How can our shea butter be raw, unrefined AND polished too?
Glad you asked.
Organic Food Grade vegetable oils are refined using citric acid, followed by a clay or diatamaceus earth filter. At the end of this refining process you get a nice white, odorless product that is basically expensive fat. The antioxidant triterpene saponins and the anti-inflammatory polysacharrides that make up just some of the botanical goodie basket that comes with shea become neutralized. All you end up with in refined shea butter is dead shea butter.
Polishing however has 3 phases. 1)Slow heat to de-water and pasteurize, 2)Hi speed shear to mix it well, and 3)Hi-mesh filter (not using clay or diatamaceus earth) to remove latex and contaminants.
We add a little scentless USDA organic rosemary extract when we heat the shea to protect the oils from oxidation. The resulting product has an off-white color with a fresh, slightly nutty smelling finish that is smooth to use (and choc full of botanical goodies). You can smell the botanicals in there.
Because Vermont Soap is a USDA certified organic processor using approved organic food processing techniques, the NOP organic certification remains intact.
All the Best,
My Granddaughter is Celiac……Gluten is out of the question for her…..Are your soaps gluten free and are the made in a gluten free area with gluten free utensils?
Thank You Kathy
This reply came from a memeber of our staff with celiac.
“Our soap is gluten free. Some people who are highly susceptible, especially those who have been recently diagnosed or who have had recent contact with gluten, may have issues with even the organic oats we use. Even though it is very rare that skin contact with oats causes reaction, these folks may wish to avoid those products which contain oats (Unscented Oats and Aloe, and Oatmeal Lavender bar soaps).
Because we are an organic facility, our good manufacturing practices prevent cross contamination of all kinds. She can use any of our non-oat containing products with confidence. I do, and I’ve known I had celiac for about 20 years.”
I have a friend with pretty severe eczema on her face. It really flares up when she is stressed. My research indicates that it is probably a symptom of a deeper internal issue- maybe toxic buildup in the liver? Do you have any suggestions?
You know Mary, I believe this is often the case. Especially if drug, food and feather allergies (pillows) and interactions have already been ruled out.
Our skin and our livers (our filters) are intimately tied together. I look at it like this: Our liver blood filter gets clogged up and stays plenty busy with things like hormones and other natural stuff everyday anyway. Now add to that the burden of trying got filter out the innumerable artficial molecules we are exposed to daily. I start to wonder how we function and make it through the week! Stress just gives us more pesky hormones to clear out.
I think of it like an immune sysem gasket. Some days the gasket is plump and you can be fearless. Some days the gasket is stressd and thin and our bodies become more reactive to things we can otherwise tolerate with little notice.
Start by soothing the symptoms. Use Unscented Green Gold for this. Green Gold is chock full of natural inflammation soothing botanicals. It is the moisturizer/healing balm portion of the program. Wash face and skin with the Butter Bar. This is many of those same botanicals and herbs as Green Gold in it. Have her try washing her hair with Butter Bar occasionally – NO other hair stuff during this experiment! Hair chemicals dripping on sensitive faces is not conducive to the healing process.
Now have her wash 1 days laundry including top and bottom sheet and pillowcase in Liquid Sunshine Nontoxic Cleaner. If she is reactive to orange oil use Unscented Castile Liquid Soap instead. No dryer sheets or fabric softeners please, and use a double warm rinse cycle if that is an option. This excersise will prove or rule out laundry products as possible triggers for her.
If she is still reacting after changing out these basic commodities ther are two possiblilties. She may be reacting to one of the botanicals we use (it will be obvious) and we can switch them out. Or, it may be something previously overlooked like a pillow stuffing allergy or chemicals in the water. A carbon water filter can provide a lot of comfort if she is chloramine or chlorine sensitive.
If she is not taking medication I always recomed a yearly course of sodium alginate for 6 weeks. This simple algin salt will pull a wide spectrum of toxic chemicals and metals out of the body. There are some modern Ayuvedic Doctors who use sodium alginate a lot in treating certain difficult conditons. Use a standardized extract with dosage adjusted for bodyweight. She will need extra cacium and lucene (Italian food) during the 6 week detox as some of these nutrients will also be pulled out during the detox.
Best of Luck Mary! While we never diagnose, treat or claim to cure any ailment, Vermont Soap products have helped thousands of reactive bodies to find comfort. It takes time to root out the triggers and find alternatives. Sometimes parasitic organisms like candida albicans(from taking antibiotics) have gotten out of hand and are attacking our immune system. Getting on top of them will help everything function better overall.
All the Best,
Do you make a soap containing oats and Shea butter? I have rosacea and think this would be helpful.
Good call on both of these ingredients. Oats contain beta-glucans oat proteins which are soothing and anti-inflammatory. Shea butter contains polyglucasides which are also amazingly anti-inflammatory.
We make two bar soap products you may like. Unscented Cocobutter has oats and organic cocobutter added. The Butter Bar has shea butter and anti inflammatory healing oils from calendula and St Johnswort.
Try our new Green Gold Herbal Moisturizer as a topical soother. The new Unscented, which I recomend for you will be on the website in about a week. It is made with shea butter and hemp seed oil with healing herbs. Consider using Liquid Sunshine to replace laundry products, especially if you notice a correlation between symptom outbreaks and resdual laundry odors.
Is your shea butter raw or you cook it in any way?
Vermont Soap buys USDA certified organic shea butter in bulk right from a womans co-op in Ghana that was trained in basic methods of sorting a processing the shea nuts to maximize the shelf life of the shea butter. If you want some that is raw and unprocessed we can sell you some this way.
We developed a process called “Polishing”. First we melt the shea butter and gently heat it while mixing in organic rosemary extract scentless preservative. This is the de-watering and pasteurization stage. Then we superfilter out the ashes and miscellaneous debris. The final step takes out most of latex in the shea butter. This is irritating to those with Type B Latex allergied combined with certain tree nut allergies.
All the Best!
Wondering if you will be developing a line of all organic shampoos and conditioners and possibly a hold spray for men’s and women’s hair.
Please check out Aubrey Organics. They are almost there but not completely organic and I am looking for all organic. I will keep my fingers crossed!!
Thank you and have a good day!
Thank you for the suggestion. We think Aubrey is a good company too.
Hair care is really really tough to do with a natural soap base and natural essential oils. There are a lot of different hair types out there!
For thin thinning Soapman hair, the Butter Bar does a terrific job. More and more people are using the unscented Baby Wash and Shampoo every three days. Give that a try and see if it works for your hair type.
All the Best!
How would you say your liquid soap compares to Tom’s® of Maine?
As you know Tom’s has been discontinued. I’ve tried sooo many liquid
bath soaps and Tom’s was the only one that did not dry out my skin.
The favor of a reply is requested.
I never tried the Tom’s product but here’s what I do know:
There are 2 basic ways to make liquid soap. The first is to take a blend of detergent chemicals that is basically a mild shampoo base and thicken it. Table salt interacts with cocoamidpropyl betaine (coco betaine) to form a clear gel and is one common way thickening is accomplished. This is an inexpensive way to get a decent product out there that gets the job done. HOWEVER, synthetic detergents were not part of our evolution and biology. We actually do not the know the cumulative effects of a lifetime of exposures to these new and novel chemicals. Needless to say many people (unofficial Soapman estimate is 12% of us) react to the scent, color, preservative or to the detergent base itself. The resulting dry cracked hands then require excess amounts of hand lotion. However, alcohols, scent, etc in the lotions may themselves dry the skin. And so the cycle continues…
A second system is to make a “castile” liquid soap from natural vegetable oils. Soap molecules DO appear in nature and no one ever got cancer from washing their hands with natural soap. However, even natural soap can dry your hands, though differently than detergents will. People can be reactive to one, many or all essential oils.
When coconut oil is turned into soap it foams great. BUT, the higher the percentage of coconut oil in the formulation, the more chance of a reaction. Dry skin often is a mild reaction to topical products including laundry residues.
The Soap Crew works hard for you to balance all these factors in order to bring you the safest, mildest, most functional and affordable products we can. For hand cleaning the foaming hand soaps we make have a unique creamy vegetable oil feel. Start with Unscented if you are feeling reactive right now. We also make a soap based shower gel. You might like it. People with oily and combination skin seem to do best with it. If you have dry irritated skin, switch to the Butter Bar, at least for a time. The Butter Bar is chock full of botanical skin soothers like shea butter and calendula oil.
Thanks for Asking Carol – All the Best!
Do you sell a specific dish washing soap or are any of your soaps suitable for using to handwash dishes?
All our liquid castile soaps are pretty interchangeable however Liquid Sunshine is our flagship cleaner/degreaser. Put a small amount of organic liquid soap in the wash water but also apply some directly to your sponge or applicator for best results.
I have a front load washer so it’s not possible to mix the soap and the water and then add the clothes. Is there an alternative way to do this? Can I mix the soap with some water and that add it like i would the normal laundry soap (little cup in top of washer)?
Yes – that should do it. There is a little hose from the cup to the inside of the machine. The soap can build up there over time. Dilute 1/3 cup of liquid soap with 2/3 cup warm water and use normally. Always add soap to water rather than water to soap to avoid over sudzing.
We have strand carbonized bamboo flooring in our kitchen, dining room, and living room. I had been steam mopping it until I was told that can affect the floor (the bamboo is I guess steamed and pressed to make the floor). I’ve also been told I shouldn’t use any traditional cleaners on it, but plant-based soaps are ok. Is your Liquid Sunshine Non-toxic Cleaner Concentrate safe for bamboo? I wouldn’t be using a traditional mop and bucket either as too much water is terrible for bamboo, but rather a thick, damp cloth. Thank you!
Liquid Sunshine will be an ideal cleaner for this type of flooring. Thanks for asking!
What I read on the dry/sensitive skin page about reactive bodies made absolute sense!! Are there other resources for finding out more about this that you recommend (books, websites, blogs, anything you’ve got!)? Can’t wait to try your products when they arrive!! We’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and my little boy’s hands look like raw hamburger, and my husband has a huge dry/cracked/bleeding spot on his hand. Reactive fellas
Wondering what to order of your soaps. Can you tell me if your castile soap can be used in a water dilution with a foaming dispenser? Our current brand of castile soap has worked great for this (but killed our hands at the sink and skin in the shower), but see that you also offer separate body wash and hand wash products. What are the differences between these? Thank you! Feel free to reply via email or on the FAQ posts
Thank you! -claire
Thanks for reaching out from Providence.
Dr Bronners is world famous but yes, it is notoriously harsh on sensitive skin. I had to stop using it back when I was about 20 years old (tough guy with sensitive skin).
Vermont Soap makes a much milder formula and we cook it differently as well. You will notice the difference immediately. You can dilute our castile soap for foamer use. Try 1/3 to 1/2 soap to water. I do recomend our premade solutions though. They have an extra ingredient added that makes them even smoother on the skin.
We also take a high olive oil liquid soap and thicken it with guar gum and glycerin into a shower gel. Vermont Soap developed this method of gelling soap almost 10 years ago. Vermont Soap Shower gels are milder than our liquid soaps but not nothing is as mild as a good bar fo handmade soap.
There are a half dozen things in or about soap that can potentially dry your skin out. One of them is coconut oil. Coconut oil is great for making lather but the more coconut oil in the formula, the higher the potential for skin reactivity. That is why most soap formulas use less than 20% coconut oil in them. Castile soaps, being over 90% coconut oil, are often just too reactive for some people. Especially when used full strength and daily.
Heal those hamburger hands with Green Gold! A little bit goes a long way and they will notice a difference after a couple of applications. Use the Butter Bar for face and body and try our unscented foamer for the a really nice, smooth and nonirritating formula that is well tolerated by most people.
You are right. There is not a lot out there about reactive bodies. Might be my next book.
Take Care and Thanks for writing,
Hello Vermont Soap:
I’m wondering about dilution % of Liquid Sunshine for washing dishes by hand. Our water is a little on the hard side……
Best way to do dishes with Liquid Sunshine is to put it right onto a damp sponge and use directly on your dishes.
I was wondering if the rosemary extract in your pet shampoo is organic? I.e. Was it grown with pesticides? And what method was used to extract it… From seed? Ethanol? Any info would be helpful as I am looking for a new shampoo for my golden retriever who is really sensitive. Thanks!
We just switched from a strictly natural to a certified organic rosemary extract. These are oleoresins. Comes to us as a thick green paste. This is the anti-oxidant preservative – about 1/10 of 1% is used.
I have a daughter with celiac disease who just had a baby. Do you offer any mild fragrant free soaps that do not contain any wheat, rye, barley or oats. Please advise. The baby’s skin is dry and needs a soap with some natural oil in it but none of the other items listed above. Thank you for any help you can offer.
Thanks for asking. Our Butter Bar fits the bill here. No scent or grains and super mild for dry skin. The Baby Bar has a little bit of lavender oil, if barely scented soap is OK, this will fit the bill. Laundry residues sometimes cause dry skin too. Try using Liquid Sunshine Nontoxic Cleaner concentrate for laundry. If you like it the 5 gallon pail is the bargain.
My husband has dry, red, itchy skin (inner thigh area). He was told it was yeast infection due to heat and sweat and was given Nystatin. It has not worked. In fact, he still has dry itchy skin and it’s 20 degrees. Which soaps can we start out with. I know that the soap may not help at all but would like to try something. Anything other than sit around listening to the doctors say “There’s nothing we can do about it. All you can do is keep using the medication.”
Ouch! That sounds painful. Let’s assume the diagnosis was correct and this is yeast, or something yeastlike aka malesthesia furfur, which is fairly common – kind of like dandruff. Blue Bar (double strength tea tree oil with peppermint) might be just the ticket. Wash affected area 3-4x daily, leaving the soap on for a couple of minutes before rinsing off. If the Blue Bar is going to work you should see improvement in 4 days or less. If nothing happens after 4 days, try lightly spraying vinegar on the affected area throughout the day and night. Some people do not like vinegar on their skin so watch for reactions. Rinse off with soap and water if a vinegar reaction occurs.
Let us know how the Blue Bar works for him, or if not, if the vinegar spray helped.
I have been reading a lot of labels lately and I am confused by the words that I see. Since you are the SoapMan I thought you could clear up some of my questions. What are these things?
As my buddy Big Jim likes to say; “If it has more than six syllables you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin”.
The thing to remember about chemical nomenclature is that the name describes what it is.
Magnesium carbonate: The name tells me it is benign. This is an antacid ingredient. I suspect it’s use in your product is to make a powder flow more freely without clumping.
Magnesium carbonate hydroxide: This is an additive to clay masks; also a whitening agent. Both magnesium compounds are sometimes used in “dandruff” shampoos. Also basically benign topically.
Sodium benzoate: A common preservative used in many soft drinks. Read the words; benzoate – benzene. This is on the Soapman’s limit exposure as best you can list.
Glycol distearate: A common emulsifier (holds water and oils together). Should be fine. Can be made from animal or vegetable sources.
Dimethicone: Silicon oil. Used in food and cosmetics. You would think it would be safe, and most cosmetic chemists think it is fine. However the Soapman is not so sure. Used in lotions, hair conditioners, Chicken Pieces Parts and much more. I am going to stick to using it in the lubricating spray for the controls on my rototiller. I am putting this one on the Soapman’s limit exposure as best you can list. Do we really need it in the first place when there are so many natural ingredients that do the same thing?
Sodium xylenesulfonate: This is just creepy. Also called dimethylbenzenesulfonic acid sodium salt. A solvent foaming chemical. Big Jim says it will wreak havoc on your liver way before it gives you cancer. Might be used to deliver a “medicated” ingredient under the skin. Should never have been invented. Minimum safety data available. This goes on the Soapman’s Terrorist Chemical Watch List. Avoid this one Mookie!
Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride: This is a derivative of natural guar gum. Should be fine, but why bother? We use organic guar gum as a thickener in our shower gels.
Keep it clean and natural!
Quick question. I was thinking about this last night while using one of the organic liquid castile soaps from your company. If your products are USDA Certified organic, why don’t you have that circle green and white logo that accompanies that distinction on the products? Thanks!
Many thanks for your question. The answer is that in this country there are 3 levels of organic. 100% Organic (self explanatory), 95% Organic (These can be labeled as Organic, as in Organic Soap. The remaining 5% has to be natural, but not certified organic); and Made with Organic.
In the US, soap is always a “Made with Organic” product. When we sell soap in Europe our products are almost all 95% to 100% Certified Organic.
What’s the difference? In Europe, alkali, the processing aid that is used to convert organic oils to organic soap, is NOT counted as an ingredient. In the US it IS. Since soap products use up to 16% alkali by weight, they always fall into the Made With category stateside.
Only products in the 95% or 100% organic content category are allowed to sport the nifty USDA logo on them.
This does make it harder to separate ourselves from the muck and the mire of ordinary wannabe fake organic products. It is what we have to work with at present!
Keep it clean and natural!
Does the vegetable glycerine in the foaming soaps come from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or soy? Thanks!
Glycerin is a component of natural oils (triglycerides). Your own cell walls contain it. We source our vegetable glycerin from palm oil, which is a typical source for high quality vegetable glycerin these days. Glycerin is purified and standardized (USP pharmaceutical grade is what we use) and does not contain gluten. Because it is made from vegetable oil, grain crops are rarely – if ever, used in it’s production (currently).
On your “What Is Natural” page [in the first paragraph] you say that “chemical/synthetic free” means, among other things, no alcohols. But alcohol is a very effective sanitizing agent that *can* be produced “in an ordinary American kitchen using “generally available utensils”. So why do you exclude alcohol?
Hi Jeff, Thanks for your question. We avoid the use of alcohol in our products because so many people are topical alcohol sensitive, and most do not know it. Alcohol is used as an emulsifier in lotions (holds the water and oils based portions of the formula together. It works well for this, but alcohol can have the unfortunate side effect of drying one’s skin as one is attempting to moisturize! The end result is that the individual feels GREAT when they apply the lotion, but they need to re-up every 15 minutes or their skin dries out. Good news for the marketers of the product, but bad news for the consumer.
Alcohol and sugar are also used to make high end transparent soaps. The advantage is there is no free alkali in the soap (which makes your skin dry and irritated). However alcohol sensitive people will experience dry, irritated skin from the alcohol instead!
We do support the use of ethanol and essential oils for sanitizing wipes and sprays, and methanol (rubbing alcohol) for surface disinfecting (such as toilet seats). Look for a USDA certified organic ethanol based hand sanitizer from Vermont Soap sometime next year. We have one in the works!
Best Wishes, The Soapman