I use Irish Spring bar soap.
Not out of some deep thought or understanding of soap, but because my father used it and why should I care?
Because, it’s soap. Right? Soap isn’t complicated.
But it’s on my list of objects to rationally analyze that I use daily.
A quick search finds the following: http://www.goodguide.com/products/137641-irish-spring-original-deodorant
Controversial Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide This ingredient raises a low level of health concern, according to GoodGuide’s ingredient classification. • This ingredient is suspected of causing cancer, according to sources compiled by Scorecard (www.scorecard.org) • This ingredient is suspected of causing reproductive toxicity, according to sources compiled by Scorecard (www.scorecard.org)
And what is titanium dioxide used for?
Titanium dioxide is the most widely used white pigment because of its brightness and very high refractive index (n = 2.7), in which it is surpassed only by a few other materials.
The color of my soap - which I don’t care about at all, really - may possibly be suspected of maybe giving me cancer.
But isn’t cancer a small price to pay for the comfort of a green hue I’ve known since childhood?
And I hate change.
The Science of Suds
Maybe this would all make more sense if I remembered chemistry.
Soap, after all, is simple chemistry, right? I remember learning how to make soap in chemistry class. http://cavemanchemistry.com/oldcave/projects/soap/
Let’s take a fat derived from palm oil (containing palmitic acid) and hydrolyse it using sodium hydroxide. Saponification is the term applied to the hydrolysis of fats using a strong alkali like lye. The reaction is [C15H31CO]3C3H5O3 + 3 NaOH(aq) -> 3 C15H31COONa(aq) + C3H5(OH)3(aq)
Then again, maybe it was Fight Club.
So maybe the chemistry is a more complex than I remember, but there’s no need for a myriad of complex things I’ve never heard of to be there.
Healthy Natural Soap
What about natural soap? Soap that isn’t trying to kill me in order to create a more pleasing pigment color or odor?
Trying to find a soap that wouldn’t kill me using GoodGuide was surprisingly infuriating.
Turns out, just about everything is full of things that are probably killing me.
Soap is simple. There shouldn’t be anything in soap that I can’t understand with advanced high school level chemistry.
I resolved to find a soap that had ingredients I could recognize.
I mentioned my search for new soap to my girlfriend, someone who for years has been concerned about the chemical contents of products.
“I told you to stop using that stuff years ago!”
“And what did I say?”
“You told me you needed to use it because it was deodorizing and you smell.”
“That does sound like something I would say…”
Tempting as it was to get some lye and start turning my garage into a soap factory, I didn’t want Tyler Durden to start messing up this product blog, so I did something much simpler.
I went to Whole Foods and picked up the simplest soap I could find.
365 Glycerin Soap FRENCH MILLED Unscented. Cruelty Free · Biodegradable, Natural, No artifical colors. Ingredients: Saponified Coconut and/or Palm Oil, Vegetable Glycerin
What surprised me is, well, I actually liked it.
After years of mass manufactured chemical infused color soaps, using a natural glycerin soap actually felt nicer. Smoother, less plastic.
365 Glycerin Soap, < $2 for a 4oz. bar. Available from Whole Foods.