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Hand soap- we all (hopefully) use it many times each day. I know in my house, I refill hand soap bottles almost weekly. We have one in the kitchen and one in each bathroom for a total of four bottles throughout the house. Refilling each bottle, each week starts to add up pretty quickly.
Another concern is the safety of store-bought soaps. Many contain ingredients that, at best, could be drying and irritating to your skin; at worst, they may be endocrine disruptors or carcinogens. And if you want a nice scent, it'll contain that sneaky "fragrance."
So what's the alternative? Make your own foaming hand soap, of course. It only takes a few ingredients and two pieces of equipment. It will take you less than five minutes to whip up a batch of your own soap. Since we're using, yes- you guessed it, essential oils, you can customize it to whatever scent you fancy.
I'll share my recipe and the process with you below, but first, I want to share some of the reasons to avoid traditional hand soaps.
Antibacterial hand soap- not as great as we believed:
When you see a hand soap that says it's antibacterial and the bottle touts its benefits and lists all the bacterias and/or viruses it kills, you think, "wow, this is great!" You think you can wash your hands with this stuff and stay that much healthier. The problem is that it isn't that simple.
Antibacterial soap is different from regular hand soap in that the manufacturer adds a chemical to their product specifically meant for reducing bacteria on the skin. Often, this ingredient is triclosan. These manufacturers, however, have never been able to prove that their products work any better to kill germs than good ole' soap and water. They also can't prove that these chemicals are safe for daily use. Think about that- if you wash your hands six times per day, that's 42 times each week. That sort of exposure can compound quickly within the body.
Take a look at what the FDA has to say:
"Many liquid soaps labeled antibacterial contain triclosan, an ingredient of concern to many environmental, academic and regulatory groups. Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters the way some hormones work in the body and raises potential concerns for the effects of use in humans. We don’t yet know how triclosan affects humans and more research is needed."
They might not flat-out say that it's dangerous, but it's enough to deter me.
What about regular hand soap?
Even if you don't go the antibacterial route, traditional hand soap can still contain some questionable ingredients. Even buying products labeled as "natural" can be a risk. Many of them may still contain potentially dangerous ingredients and that sneaky "fragrance." Check out this prior post I wrote for the problem with "fragrance." You can buy "unscented" soaps, but that often means even more chemicals have been added to cover up the scent. Opt for fragrance-free varieties if you don't want to make your own.
Many handsoaps, even unscented or fragrance-free options, also contain ingredients that can be irritating and drying to your hands, especially if you've got sensitive skin. Now that COVID has us all washing our hands properly, we're likely to really be feeling those effects. Eventually, that dryness could lead to cracking and bleeding hands, and that's just asking for germs to enter your body.
Ready to invest five minutes to make your own soap? Great, let's do it!
What you will need:
A regular mouth, pint-sized mason jar: this will be your soap bottle.
A foaming pump dispenser* to fit a regular mouth mason jar: this will allow you to make foaming soap, thus saving money.
Liquid castile soap (I like Dr. Bronner's)*, two tablespoons: this will be your cleaning agent.
Liquid oil such as sunflower or olive, one teaspoon: this is to help keep your hands from drying out.
Water: enough to fill the mason jar to within about one inch from the top.
Essential oils: these are optional, but they do add a nice scent. Also, if you choose essential oils with antibacterial properties, they add a safe and natural antibacterial quality to your soap. No nasty chemicals needed. I like lime and clary sage, and I add eight drops of each.
How to make it:
Note: if your foaming pump is brand new, you'll need to assemble it first. This is very easy. Simply attach the pieces together and cut the plastic tube to the correct length to fit the jar.
Now, to make your soap. First, fill the mason jar with water to within about one inch of the top. This will allow enough air to remain in the jar for the foaming action of the pump to work properly.
Next, add one teaspoon of your oil of choice to the soap. I usually use sunflower oil. Then add two tablespoons of the liquid castile soap. Finally, add the essential oils if you plan to use them.
Place the foaming pump onto the mason jar and close it tightly. Gently swirl or shake the jar to mix the ingredients. Ta-da! You've got your own foaming hand soap, sans yucky ingredients. Plus, doesn't it just look so farmhouse and lovely? The pumps even with those cute stickers you see in the photos, although it doesn't seem like they'd last long, so I didn't use them.
You can see how nicely it foams. The middle picture below shows two pumps of soap. Plus, doesn't it look great on the bathroom sink?
This really is such a simple and quick project, it's absolutely worth trying. Even if the chemicals in store-bought soaps don't worry you, we all like to save money. My kids are going to completely fill up their palms with soap every time they wash their hands. With regular liquid hand soap, that means four to five pumps. With this soap, it's just one to two pumps. Less soap used, hands just as clean, no scary chemicals.
Do you think you'll make your own hand soap? What is your favorite essential oil combination for your homemade goodies?