A few days ago I discovered that many soap manufacturers remove glycerin from their products and sell it for manufacturers to use in other products. Why would they do this? What is it used for? And why is it a bad idea
to have soap with no glycerin?
Glycerin is usually made from plant oils such as palm, soy, sunflower or flax. It is created when these oils are saponified to make soap. It is a humectant that attracts moisture from the air to nourish skin. It is often used in wound care products because of its anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.
These assets make it very useful in cosmetic products. It is often added to lotions and creams designed to hydrate and heal the skin. Glycerin is good for the skin.
When we make soap here at Singing Flower Studio, our good coconut, palm kernel and sweet almond oils are saponified by adding a strong alkali called sodium hydroxide. This is a more convenient process than straining the ash from a wood fire to create an alkali the process our great grandmothers used. At Singing Flower we add sodium hydroxide to make bar soaps and we add potassium hydroxide to make our liquid soaps. We never remove the glycerin, because glycerin creates a much richer and healthier soap. Our soap retains the
wound healing and humectant properties of their natural oil glycerins.
How do you know whether the glycerin has been removed from a bar of soap or a bottle of foaming soap? Recently I saw a soap company indicate that the glycerin was NOT removed. But I have never seen a label that announced the glycerin HAS been removed. Glycerin helps prevent the soap from drying. The essential oils may evaporate from our soaps, but the soaps do not dry out. How do you know this in advance of buying a product?
Ask the store owner? Raise questions online?
As long as glycerin has many uses, it will be extracted and sold. Since it takes high quantities of oil and is a somewhat expensive process, small batch soap is much less likely to have lost its glycerin. It is the best reason I can think of to purchase from small independent producers.
New Directions Aromatics at newdirectionsaromatics.com and Wikipedia