Organic soap is made from natural ingredients, and in most cases, those ingredients are also organically farmed. The majority of the soap bar is made of what are called base oils. We use some of the same base oils for soapmaking that you can use for cooking. So if it’s safe to eat, it’s probably also safe to put on your skin. In the case of our latest recipe, those oils are coconut, olive, and castor bean oil. (We used to use palm oil but are phasing it out because of the massive amount of environmental destruction that it takes to produce.)
Another ingredient in our soap is essential oil. Essential oils are the volatile or fragrant compounds in certain plants. Most essential oils are distilled from things you would eat such as citrus fruit or herbs. Two examples of essential oils we use are lemon essential oil and rosemary essential oil. Experts say you shouldn’t put pure essential oil on your skin because it is very concentrated and can cause irritation. However, essential oil diluted with another oil is just fine.
Most organic soap also contains glycerin. Glycerin is a natural product of the soapmaking reaction. A lot of mass-market soapmakers and some small-batch soapmakers take out the glycerin because it makes the soap bar last longer or because they can sell the glycerin to use in other cosmetic products. However, when glycerin is left in the soap bar, it acts as a humectant, or a substance that attracts moisture from the air into the skin. Two other natural humectants are aloe and honey.