Cleansers And Their Impact On You + Environment
When it comes to your bathroom, you likely have a routine. You probably know how much toothpaste you like to use each morning or which side of the sink to lean on while washing your hands. However, there's one detail that might be worth re-examining: your soap.
Soap is soap, you say? Not exactly
When it comes to soaps, it falls into 2 main categories:
- Mass-produced soaps, whether in liquid or bar form, aren’t really soap, but rather synthetic detergent products according to the FDA.
- Real soap made with fats, oils and lye.
Antibacterial soaps are made with synthetic chemicals including triclosan and triclocarban—and according to the FDA's website, “There isn't enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water” for families or schools.
Though antibacterial soap may seem more hygienic, plain soap is actually just as effective at killing bacteria on its own. The CDC explains that the use of soap with a high fat content can improve cleaning. Soap kills bacteria when you rub your hands together to generate lather. So the lather and the physical scrubbing action is removing the living bacteria on your skin. .
Therefore, washing your hands with regular soap is just as effective as using antibacterial soap to remove dirt and reduce the spread of germs. Additionally, when used correctly—that is, by rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds—soap can prevent germs from spreading in other places around your home or office.
Wastewater treatment plants can't remove antibacterial compounds from water
While you may think organisms in wastewater treatment plants can remove any chemical from water, that's not the case. Studies have shown that it’s affecting our lakes and rivers. The chemicals in antibacterial soap are never fully removed, and can be pumped back into rivers and lakes. This affects marine wildlife since these compounds can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
The chemicals also bioaccumulate up the food chain. Bioaccumulation occurs when a chemical concentrates inside a living organism over time as it's ingested by lower-level species that eat smaller organisms containing less of the substance. Once these chemicals reach an apex predator—the top or highest-level species at the end of a food chain—they're consumed in high amounts, which causes them to get sick or die. Bioaccumulation has been seen with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury: both are known endocrine disruptors, and have caused devastating effects on marine wildlife including seals, dolphins, whales, sharks and birds.
What is real soap and how is it different?
You know how they say oil and water don’t mix. Well, real soap is made by getting the fats, oils, water, and alkali to combine causing a chemical reaction that transforms all the ingredients into real soap.
Soap can be made with any combination of fats and oils. So make sure to read the ingredients if you have specific requirements such as cruelty-free, vegan, or nut free soaps.
Castile soap is usually what people think of when searching for real soap. This is because soap before WWII was virtually always natural and made without synthetic ingredients. The term castile soap came from a manufacturer that made a 70% olive oil that came from the castile region in Spain. Even though today’s real soap isn't made with 70% olive oil from the region, the name stuck. Real soap, especially olive oil soap is one of the mildest forms of real soap, making it great for the hands, face, and body.
The benefits of real soap extend beyond cleanliness: it’s better for the planet too!
When you wash with antibacterial soaps containing harmful chemicals like triclosan, those chemicals enter into our water system where they can cause damage to aquatic life and other wildlife populations that are already struggling because of pollution in waterways So next time you're considering buying another bottle of hand, face, or body wash, remember what's best for both yourself and the planet before making a decision! Check out our thick liquid cleansers here.