by Cathy Haustein (one of my favorite women in Iowa)
There is nothing quite as relaxing a bath. At the end of the day the last thing you want to worry about is your soap. But there might be a reason that you feel extra sleepy if the soap you use contains the antibacterial agent triclosan. In a resent study at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (published in Science News March 17, 2007 page 171) chemist Peter Vikesland found that washing with trichlosan products lets off a of dose of chloroform into your lungs or on your skin. Chloroform– that’s the stuff that puts you to sleep and has other undesirable qualities. Triclosan is certainly something you’ll want to avoid if you shower to wake yourself up. Scientists claim that deodorant soaps and dish detergents that kill germs don’t accomplish much in the way of sanitation. But people still keep buying them and the triclosan in them can be found in great amounts in household discharge water. It’s estimated that most liquid soaps contain the chemical and it’s also found in acne wash, toothpaste, deodorant and even some toys.
Alternative soaps which don’t contain triclosan include the Method brand body washes and hand soaps and products from The Body Shop. Blue Moon Herbs produces all natural handcrafted soap containing grapefruit oil to reduce pH. Reduced pH soaps help your skin keep its natural acid layer which helps keep down the bacteria. Most soaps strip this away. Goat’s Milk soap contains capric and caprylic acids. An acidic soap will help you maintain your body’s natural protective layer. And if the word caprilic acid reminds you of the word capricious, they both derive from the Latin word for goat.
A friend gave our family a bar of wonderful soap from the Benedictine Monastery in Clyde Missouri. The soaps are made by Sr. Cathleen Marie. I had a patch of scaly skin that no ointment could cure and washing with this soap cleared it right up. The composition of this soap : “saponified vegetable oil, natural glycerin to scent and soften your skin, a bit of Holy Water and a prayer for you.” (When I went back to using Oil of Olay scrubbing cloths the itchy skin returned. )
Most commercial soaps these days are primarily sodium tallowate and palm kernel oil. The later has negative implications for wildlife such as tigers, orangutans, Asian elephants and rhinos. Their rain forest habitats are burned down to make room for palm oil plantations. Palm oil plantations are monoculture just like our corn is and like corn, displaces natural species and require pesticides. Sodium tallowate is made from animal fat and sodium hydroxide. If you wish to avoid animal products and chemicals that are harsh you will want to steer clear of these soaps.
Alternatives to palm kernel oil soap are olive oil based soaps, coconut oil soaps or glycerin based soaps. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol which can be used as a sweetener and bubble producer. Most clear bar soaps are glycerin soaps. Body Shop has a nice selection and so does the monastery. Fareway stores carry some nice Gliss hypo-allergenic glycerin soap at a very friendly price. Burt’s Bee’s Baby Bee Shampoo bar can be found at HyVee. Burt’s Bee’s is one of the few companies that has signed a pledge at www.safecosmetics.org to keep all harmful chemicals out of its products. There are numerous sites where you can research the health implications of your skin care products.
If you would like to help out women in New Orleans, try some Queen B soap. You can even make your own soap using kits or ingredients on line. I did this with my kids when they were little and it’s fun and clean up is easy! Who knows, you might awaken the inner chemist in someone you love with soap making.