Do you know what’s in your store bought “soap”? If you looked up the ingredients, there is a good chance you will see “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” (SLS), “Sodium Laureth Sulfate”, or other chemical detergents and ingredients. You may have already known about these chemicals, but if you didn’t you may be wondering if your bath soap, hand soap, shampoo, or body wash contain these ingredients. You may also be wondering about what these ingredients are and if they are safe. You may also be wondering about alternatives. I’m going to cover all this info in this post!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
What is SLS?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a chemical compound (CH3(CH2)11OSO3Na) surfactant used in cleaning and hygiene products. Of all anionic surfactant compound, Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most researched. It has the properties of a detergent and like all detergent surfactants, it removes oils from the skin, and can cause skin and eye irritation. It is derived from inexpensive coconut and palm oils, it is a common component of many domestic cleaning products. It’s also the main ingredient in most household fly killers.
Is SLS Safe?
According to the Environmental Working Group‘s Cosmetics Database, SLS is rated overall as Low Risk. The main concerns listed are skin and eye irritation and organ system toxicity. So overall it’s not really bad for you, but why would you buy (or make) a soap that contains a know skin irritant? This just seems backwards to me. My guess is that it’s a cheaper ingredient than pure soap and it is also creates a good foamy lather. I don’t know about you, but I am willing to sacrifice some bubbles to avoid skin irritation!
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
What is Sodium Laureth Sulfate?
The chemical formula for Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)10CH2(OCH2CH2)nOSO3Na. It is also a detergent and surfactant found in several personal care products like soap, shampoo, and even toothpaste. It’s an inexpensive foaming agent. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is an irritant like other detergents, with the irritation increasing with concentration. Sodium Laureth Sulfate and SLS are both surfactants that are used in many cosmetic products for their cleansing and emulsifying properties.
Is Sodium Laureth Sulfate Safe?
The Environmental Working Group‘s Cosmetics Database lists Sodium Laureth Sulfate as low to medium risk. The main concerns are Contamination concerns and Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), and organ system toxicity. Again, it seems that it’s not terribly dangerous, but my thoughts are the same. I would rather have a soap that doesn’t contain these skin irritating detergents.
The main reason that these ingredients are used in commercial “soaps” and hygiene products are because they’re inexpensive to manufacture. They perform the same function as soap but they’re cheap alternatives to true soap. But you don’t have to use them when you are making your soap. There are alternative soap bases that do not include these irritating ingredients. Listed below are just a few examples of Melt and Pour Soap Bases that don’t have chemical detergents in them. In addition to those listed there are also other variations available, such as bases made with other oils, milks, butters, etc.
SLS Free Melt and Pour Soap Base Options & Ingredients
Bramble Berry – Premium Goats Milk MP Base Ingredients Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin (kosher, of vegetable origin), Goat’s Milk, Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium Hydroxide (saponifying agent), Sorbitol (moisturizer), Sorbitan oleate (emulsifier), Oat Protein (conditioner), Titanium Dioxide (mineral whitener used in opaque Soaps)
SFIC Clear Glycerin Soap Base
Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin (kosher, of vegetable origin), Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide (saponifying agent), Sorbitol (moisturizer), Sorbitan oleate (emulsifier), and Soy bean protein (conditioner).
Bulk Apothecary: All Natural SFIC Organic Clear Glycerin MP Soap Base:
This soap base is the same as the normal clear SFIC soap base but uses organic oils of palm and coconut in place of the traditional oils.
Certified Organic Coconut oil, Certified Organic palm oil, safflower oil, glycerine (kosher, of vegetable origin), purified water, sodium hydroxide (saponifying agent), sorbitol (moisturizer), sorbitan oleate (emulsifier), soy bean protein (conditioner).
With some research before you purchase ingredients and materials, you can avoid SLS and other detergents. There are several options available, more than I’ve listed here. I have personally used a few detergent free bases from Wholesale Supplies Plus – Coconut Milk, Hemp, and Goats Milk. I have also used several types of SFIC soap base I ordered from Bulk Apothecary and Brambleberry. Those included Plain White, Oatmeal, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, and Goat’s Milk. I have found all of these bases to be less irritating and less drying than soap base purchased at a local craft store.