Today’s sweet post is achingly tempting to look at, these images look good enough to eat. If I told you I had a big thick bar of wonderful handmade chocolate – you’d be drooling – if I added the word “soap“, you would look at me as if I was insane. Maybe I am a little insane, but luckily that is not the topic of this blog post, today it all about the amazingly beautiful art of handmade soap. Often made with the most pure and natural of ingredients and scented in any number of combination, these stunning blocks of bliss are all about getting hands on.
We live in a suddenly germ phobic society. We have managed to add “antibacterial” ingredients to just about every home product, from dish soap to all purpose cleaners. Do you actually know what constitutes that “antibacterial” property? You guessed it, it a bunch of harsh chemicals kids! As a nurse, I actually had to study how to properly and safely wash my hands, and I can tell you, the most important part of hand washing is not the chemicals in the soap, it is the length of time you spend lathering and the friction of rubbing the bacteria and dirt from your hands.
It doesn’t matter how much antibacterial soap you use, if you have handled the taps and and door knobs with dirty hands, and you don’t spend enough time scrubbing your hands, drying them, and touch only ‘clean’ surfaces after washing, you are just wasting your money and throwing a pile of chemicals down the pipes into our water system.
I don’t use antibacterials in my home, it is a conscious decision. I am not interested in adding any more chemicals to my life or the ecosystem. Not only that, but I have done my own research into the issue, and even the FDA has acknowledged that the use of antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers has not been linked to any sign of a decline in infection rates among it’s users, not any statistically significant shift in all the years since it’s proliferation. Not one bit of evidence suggests that using an antibacterial soap will make you any less likely to become ill or shorten an illness period. In fact, many anecdotal studies suggest that the perceived benefits of antibacterials and hand sanitizers actual has led to less effective hand washing.
If you wash your hands before meals and as needed, and you do it properly, you will have an edge over any anti-bacterial or anti-microbial soap sold in the grocery store. We are more likely to pass on infections if we put our faith in a bottle of soap as opposed to the common sense that says to slow down, do the job right and well the first time. Our grandparents used the most basic of soaps, many times simple glycerin soaps, and they were often much healthier than we are. We seem a society intent on creating super-bugs, germs that can foil our most basic cleansers and bacteria that make antibiotics useless for those who desperately need them to work.
So back to these beautiful bars of soap, and a simple question, why buy the bottled soaps that all contain chemicals for fragrance, bacteria reduction, and color, when you can buy a gorgeous bar of Eco-friendly soap in a color or fragrance that is naturally lovely, and does the job just as well, if not better. Washing your hands becomes a pleasurable experience when you slow down, roll the bar in your hands, develop a bit of a lather and that lovely scent begins to build.
Whether it is the lightest of vanillas, or a rich patchouli, a citrus twist or a floral bouquet, you can find a handcrafted bar of soap to match your personal tastes. Perfume does go “off”, the alcohol it it turns, and you may be wasting your money by spending a fortune on a scent you rarely wear. Using a naturally scented soap will leave a lovely scent on your skin or body, and it will linger in that gentle way that good fragrance should. People that get close may notice it, they may wonder what smells so wonderful and can’t pin it down, and they may begin to associate that scent with you and you alone. Not a scent lover? There are also plenty of unscented all natural bars available too.
If you have been scrolling through these amazingly gorgeous photos of some of the most appetizingly sweet bars of soap, you might like to know that not only are these soaps gentle to the environment, but gentle to your body. Some are organic, others are vegan friendly, but whatever your reasons for buying handmade soap might be, never allow the perceived cost to hold you back. Most of these bars are priced around the $5 USD per/bar range, depending on the ingredients and the size of the bar. It works out to about $1 per oz. of handcrafted soap, there are few artisan goods that are this affordable in price. You can sometimes get bars for much less if you purchase a sampler or multiple bars at a time. Find a vendor that is located close to you, in the geographic sense, and you will not only save on shipping, but also leave a smaller carbon footprint.
These soaps would make the most welcome of home-warming gifts, and there is nothing better to give a new parent who has their hands on the delicate skin of a new baby all day and night, or to a friend who is under the weather. These soaps are great gifts for teachers, friends, and the people you love. Everybody needs to wash their hands, this is not just a ‘girl’ thing, men deserve fresh smelling natural soaps too.
If you have a fragrance free workplace, and can’t wear perfume, it can be hard to find unscented soaps and shampoo. Many of these artisans offer unscented natural bars that are lovely to look at and use, but so very gentle to the skin with only the scent of the body friendly ingredients left behind. If you knit, sew, or crochet, thing of how often your hands touch those delicate wools and fabrics, wouldn’t you rather have a mild and natural scent on your fingers when you work on something so precious for someone equally precious?
Treat yourself to a bar of handmade soap today, there is no reason to wait. Pick one that is appealing to the eye as well as the nose, and don’t be afraid to give up the “anti-bacterial” chemical soap. The only people who need to use harsh chemicals to clean their hands are surgeons and other healthcare workers when they are AT WORK. Even this nurse will tell you that once I walk into my home after work, the last thing I want to see is yet another bottle of harsh soap. Give me a bar of gentle soft butter smooth soap that makes me remember I am a person whose hands do more than perform various procedures, give me a scent that makes me smile with pleasure, the simple pleasure that we all deserve to enjoy. Grab yourself a bar or two of lovely handmade soap and be sweet to yourself, your family, and mother earth.