Do One Thing: Buy Local, Handmade Soap.


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This week’s Do One Thing is about soap. In the last few months, we started buying our soap from a local small business here in town. They do everything right in their shop, from the mixing to the heating to the cutting, and you can watch them do if it you want to. Everything they use in their soaps is natural and organic, and because you get to know the people you are buying from it really makes you feel good about supporting the small local guy. The soaps are inexpensive, there is no plastic/paper wrapping, and any and all waste soap gets turned into “seconds” and/or laundry soap which customers can buy for cheaper. It might be hard to find in your area, but if you can, check out a local soap company. Your skin, wallet, and local economy will thank you!

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  1. Nice tip. I’ve actually got a nice goat soap place near me in NH which makes all sorts of different soaps. Kinda cool.

  2. As a home soap maker I’m asking for clarification on something – do they use lye for making their soap? The lye I buy is nowhere near natural or organic (as far as I know no lye is) but there is no other way to make soap. No lye, no soap.

  3. Ours do, for sure. Can’t say that about all of them though. As for frugal, I can understand completely, but even if it’s an extra $.50 I like helping out the local guy rather than a chain.

  4. Dawn — I buy handmade, local bar soap for our two bathrooms. It lasts longer than liquid soap because you can only use so much per hand-washing. It smells a hundred times better than regular bars of soap, and there’s something luxurious about using it. That’s the real clincher for me; I actually enjoy washing my hands. Silly, right? But I love it.

  5. Wow, thanks for opening my eyes! I’ve heard of soapnuts for laundry (on this blog) but I hadn’t considered using soapwort and such for making soap. I use plant oils already. The oils are saponified when you mix them with lye & water.

    I love the cold process soap I make with lye but I’d love to eliminate that chemical from my cupboard. I’ve started googling the idea of lye free soap making (and I’m not talking glycerin melt & pour) but I haven’t come up with any concrete recipes. Any help from your readers would be appreciated. David, does this soapmaker you buy from have a website?

    Most of the soaps that the commenters have mentioned sound like cold process soap made with lye.

  6. Love what you said at the end of your post.

    “Your skin, wallet, and local economy will thank you!”

    So true, especially helping out small/local businesses. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  7. True, maybe it should not be called “soap” in the generic definition of the word. But the result can still clean you.

  8. Not to pick nits but there are actually NOT several ways to make soap without lye. The Saponis plant (soapwort) can be crushed to produce lather but it is not soap.

    Soap by definition is a salt which is the product of a chemical reaction between lye and some form of fat (animal or vegetable). Basically they try to cancel each other out and soap is the result. If made properly, there is no longer any lye present. So lye (sodium hydroxide) is more of a means to an end rather than an ingredient.

    Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t wash with soapwort or whatever else you like. I’ve heard of some who only use vinegar to wash. As for me I’ll stick with my own good old hand made soaps.

  9. Lye in an organic form is produced by filtering water through wood ash – it is a chemical produced by nature. Like borax and many other naturally occurring chemicals. I am not sure how exactly lye is made in the sense of manufacturing, but keep in mind lye is used in many everyday ways – it is used to preserve fish, it is used in the making of pretzels, it is used in making blue jeans.

    Let’s also keep in mind that in terms of making soap it does not keep it’s lye form – it saponifies along with the oil to produce a salt and glycerin. The wonderfully conditioning element in remains in handmade soap. A skilled soapmaker knows how to make sure that there is not lye remaining in the end product keeping the ph so safe levels.

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