What Is Glycerin In Soap?

by Danielle De Guzman May 09, 2018

What is glycerin in soap?

Here at Edens Garden, we are big fans of doing things the natural way. We believe that using simple, high quality ingredients will render the most beneficial results, and our natural bar soaps are no exception. One of the amazing effects of making cold-processed soaps is glycerin, the ultra skin-nourishing emollient naturally produced in vegetable fats and oils. This highly prized result of soapmaking is left completely intact in our bar soaps, so that you and your skin can bask in all of glycerin’s moisturizing glory.

What is glycerin and why is it good for you?

Also known as glycerine or glycerol, glycerin is a naturally occurring component of fats and oils that draws water to the skin, effectively balancing its moisture levels. Its presence in skin has been shown to prevent signs of aging by helping skin cells mature properly. When skin cells don’t mature properly, they can become hyperproliferative, leading to skin conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Studies show that the introduction of glycerin to your skin care regimen can provide a protective barrier and train your skin cells to cycle through their lifespan productively.

After it is separated from the oils in the cold-process method of soapmaking, glycerin settles in between soap molecules in the form of a thick, clear fluid. Oftentimes, the glycerin is collected and removed from bar soap and sold as a commodity or placed into a company’s lotion and moisturizing products.

While it is possible to synthetically manufacture glycerin, we at EG have stuck to the basics and allowed the glycerin to occur naturally from saponification, leaving all of it in the natural bar soap for your skin to enjoy.

Why would it be removed?

Many companies responsible for factory produced soaps have a habit of stripping their bar soaps of all the glycerin, and either selling it to cosmetic formulators or placing it in their lotions and moisturizers. The idea is, if washing and rinsing with their soap dries you out, then you will be more likely to purchase the lotions they sell as well.

In place of glycerin, commercial companies often use synthetic chemicals that strip the skin of all of its oils and act as skin irritants. This is why bar soaps are often categorized as detergents, washes or cleansers rather than soap.

Other soap producers remove glycerin for manufacturing reasons. In order to make milled soap, the natural skin-loving glycerin is removed from the original soap product to avoid gumming up the machinery. The soap is then shredded, separated, ground back together, and put through a machine (often with synthetic lubricants) up to three times to form a bar made out of soap flakes. Synthetic ingredients and fragrances are often added to help the soap survive the machinery, and to make the soap fragrant and shiny. Unlike milled soap, EG’s cold-processed soaps are made from scratch in small batches under artisan conditions.

To many consumers, bar soap is associated with dry skin. However, our bar soaps are highly moisturizing and changing the way people think about real soap.

Where else does glycerin come from?

While the glycerin in our soap comes from vegetable oils and fats, it was historically derived from animal fat. This was often done in a practical sense; an animal was killed for its meat and nothing was wasted. Nowadays, the animal fat (a.k.a. Sodium tallowate) in commercial soaps is derived from massive animal farms for an extremely low price. An estimated 25 million tons of animal fats and oils are used worldwide, with 22% of that amount going towards commercial soaps.

Glycerin can also be produced synthetically from petroleum, although this method is commonly used for pharmaceutical purposes rather than soap. Glycerin can also be a byproduct of biodiesel production, which is often sold for use in commercial cleaning and beauty products. Unfortunately, most large-scale manufacturers will fail to disclose the source of the glycerin in their ingredients list.

What about glycerin soap?

Many people think of "glycerin soap" bars as being transparent. Although the added glycerin is not what makes them clear. Transparent glycerin soaps are made from oil and lye, like opaque soaps, except that a sugar-alcohol compound is added to maintain transparency. Due to the drying effect this can have on the skin, moisturizers need to be added, as well as chelating and foaming agents that are now stripped from the original soap bar.

These ingredients are not needed to obtain lather and clean the skin. Our natural bar soaps contain all-natural, cruelty free fats and oils, chosen for their innate ability to create a firm bar of soap with a rich, stable lather, and essential oils in place of synthetic fragrances.

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