No Soap Like Real Soap

by Michael Braunstein

How did we get talked into this? How did anyone convince us that it is a good idea to rub chemicals on our bodies? That’s a huge question that could cover a lot of ground to answer; involving control, marketing, greed and the human proclivity to be led as sheep. But convince us they did. So we emptied the shelves only to fill garbage dumps with single-use plastic bottles in order to squirt some Isopropyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol — otherwise known as hand sanitizer — on our hands. Only to find out that the plague virus we are trying to avoid rarely is contracted by surfaces anyway. Okay.

No Corona needed. Crazy chemical cleaning didn’t start with the Wuhan Flu. We’ve been dumb about bubbles for a long time. What we use to wash our bodies borders on downright dangerous if one is seeking to avoid chemicals. Look at what’s listed as ingredients in a common “soap” you’ve likely used: triclocarban, sodium tallowate, sodium palmate, sodium cocoate, palm kernelate; 2,6-Di-t-butyl-p-cresol, PEG-6 methyl ether, fragrance, glycerin, titanium dioxide, tetrasodium etidronate, pentasodium pentetate and other junk. That’s not soap. That’s chemical stew.

Dihydrogen monoxide. The most abundant solvent on the planet is dihydrogen monoxide. With time and a little agitation, it can clean anything. Do you want some? Just turn your tap. Dihydrogen monoxide is otherwise known as H2O or water. And it works pretty well to clean things up. On top of that, the human body, like most organisms, has a self-sustaining regulating system of housekeeping. Our skin flora, when in balance, does a great job of keeping the body clean and healthy. Occasional rinsing does indeed help but beyond that, little else is generally needed. That’s not to say that humans haven’t relied on advancements in technology to aid in personal hygiene. But honestly, one could broach the argument that the development peaked with the invention of soap a couple thousand years ago.

See, soap is not a complex compound. Soap requires but three ingredients: water, alkali and fat such as vegetable oil or animal tallow, combined properly in the natural process of saponification. Alkaline lye leaches easily from wood ash. Combine with some fat and rainwater and making soap is as easy as falling off a mountain. Various cultures have been using soap-like salves for thousands of years.

Detergent or Soap? Soap was usually made at home until the late 1800s. Specialty soaps were made in small batches by vendors and commercial soaps emerged later. But as we entered the Age of Petroleum and World War 1, oils of all kinds were valuable for war. That is when we started a trend toward detergents. Commercial soaps on the market today are usually more detergent than soap.

I’ll admit that there are times that I prefer the use of detergent. I’ll use detergent to clean greasy dishes, wash my car, degrease a driveway, even on some very soiled clothes. But on my body? No. Soap. That’s what I go for. And there are many times when that isn’t needed.

Real soap is still out there on the shelves. You just have to look for it. You’ll know it by its ingredients. Here are examples.

Grandma’s Pure Lye Soap (Available at Ace Hardware stores locally) A convenient bar soap. Read ingredients on a bar of Grandma’s Pure Lye Soap and this is what you’ll see: INGREDIENTS: Food grade lard, Water (Aqua) & Lye (Sodium hydroxide). When I first saw this soap many years ago, I called the company office in Tulsa. A human answered. To summarize what I learned is that it’s real. Now I’ve been recommending it to people and they never look back. Love it and use it. It lasts. It works. And it doesn’t dry out or harm the skin like that other stuff.

Dr. Bronner’s Castille (Broadly available) This is a classic, of course. Originally conceived and sold about 75 years ago as a liquid soap, now available as a bar soap also. I met the late Ralph Bronner, Dr. Bronner’s son, many years ago and we talked on the phone often and exchanged letters. In the same vein as other true soaps, Bronner’s is made of simple organic ingredients. The original infused peppermint oil to give a real shot of clean. Along with many fans, I use the liquid version as an all-purpose soap good for personal hygiene, toothbrushing, shampoo, clothes… you name it.

Kirk’s Coconut Castile (Broadly available) Another classic bar soap. To my experience, stronger than either of the above. Not a bad thing, just a thing. Simple ingredients and recently the company has branched out into other products beyond the hand soap bar. Still, simple, clean and fresh.

The dirty secret Humans keep suffering unintended consequences by doing things just because we can, just because we think technology makes things better. It rarely does. (Look at those goofy blow dryers in public bathrooms; a complete disaster, spreading droplets of bacteria-laden mist into the air for the next guy to breath.) Like the wheel, the hammer, the lever and other classic tools, soap is best kept simple.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit


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