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lye on ingredients list?

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I'm just wondering about the wisdom of having an ingredients list for your product and including lye. After all, we've all told uninitiated people that soap is made up of fats, oils and drain cleaner or lye. They usually freak out until you tell them that ALL soap is made with lye.

One way of looking at it is that anything, everything that goes into your soap is an ingredient, so since all soap includes lye in the soapmaking process, lye is an ingredient. The problem is that some uninformed people will look at it and say, "Lye??? Lye!!! Hell no I'm not rubbing lye on my skin!!!" It scares uninformed people.

But another way is looking at it is that the lye is all used up in saponification so there isn't any lye in it anymore, and no need to specify it. I think the clever way of putting this is: "Ingredients: saponified olive, coconut & palm oils, water, fragrance."

I doubt I'll be selling any of my soap for months or possibly years, maybe never, so I won't need to decide anytime soon, but I'm curious what the various forum members think of whether or not to include lye in a list of soap ingredients.
 

garland68

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Hello, You can't list just Lye you need to call it by its actual same. Sodium Hydroxide. You can also put (Saponification Agent) next to it. Dazzle them with BS:)
 
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Marr said:
Lye is not an ingredient of the final product.
That's kind'a what I'm thinking too. That's why I said "saponified .... oils." That implies lye sufficiently that the lye literally goes without saying.

I was just curious why some folks who are selling their soap are including lye in the ingredients. I think it would be a real turnoff for the unsophisticated.
 

perfectsoap

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I agree with Marr again!
Any soap should not have any lye left in it or it would be harsh for your skin and potentially dangerous!
Jeff
 
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I put saponified on mine too. I don't think its illegal because I've had 'undercover' FDA/USDA agents look it over. Goat farmers get that alot.
 

fladais

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Lovehound said:
"Ingredients: saponified olive, coconut & palm oils, water, fragrance."
that's about how i'll work it with my stuff. when i have actual "stuff" that is.
 
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La Oberhasli said:
I've had 'undercover' FDA/USDA agents look it over. Goat farmers get that alot.
So you're saying you have a lot of FDA/USDA agents under your covers?


fladais said:
Lovehound said:
"Ingredients: saponified olive, coconut & palm oils, water, fragrance."
that's about how i'll work it with my stuff. when i have actual "stuff" that is.
You've got labels and no stuff, I've got stuff and no labels. Oh well... :)
 

fladais

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Lovehound said:
You've got labels and no stuff, I've got stuff and no labels. Oh well... :)
i have neither at the moment but i've been giving stuff a lot of thought. i've been waiting on a TOG mini mold but i'm going to throw caution to the wind and use a little box for a mold this evening. i want to test small batches before i jump into larger ones. :D
 

reallyrita

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Lye on ingredients list

I never intend to sell my soap, but I have begun to give out a bar here and there...to my grown kids and to close friends. I have given some thought to labels just as a courtesy to whomever gets it. Haven't done it yet though. I thought that the ingredients list must list the ingredients that went into the making of the product and not what is in the final product...if you follow me. In any case, my understanding is that you can list sodium hydroxide or you can leave that out completely and list the saponified names of the oils..all of which have sodium in the names. I don't have my soaping books here with me today but the Cavitch book gives these names, and maybe even on the Miller site. I agree that stating "lye" on the label is very off-putting.
 

IanT

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Lovehound said:
Marr said:
Lye is not an ingredient of the final product.
That's kind'a what I'm thinking too. That's why I said "saponified .... oils." That implies lye sufficiently that the lye literally goes without saying.

I was just curious why some folks who are selling their soap are including lye in the ingredients. I think it would be a real turnoff for the unsophisticated.

I agree 100 % with Marr ... Id use Sap'd oils of...blahblahblahblah...because i bet you 10:1 that people wouldnt buy it if they "Thought" lye was in the finished product...ignorance is bliss in this case I think, I would have a link to your website if you had one too and a blurb like visit blahblahblah.com for an explanation of ingredients and soapmaking process...I want my (future) potential buyers to know exactly what im donig to what they put in their bodies :)
 

Scotsoap

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From a European viewpoint, we have to adhere to strict labelling rules. The ingredients list must contain what is actually IN the product, therefore Lye or Sodium Hydroxide would not be listed and to list it would actually be against the law- because it isnt in there :) We have to use the 'saponified' names ... i.e. Sodium Cocoate etc.
 

IrishLass

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Right here, silly!
This is just me, but I incrementally list all the ingredients that went into my soap in descending order, which means I put 'sodium hydroxide' on my labels.

This is a (sometimes) hotly contested topic on one of the other soaping forums I'm a member of, with one side of the argument being very adament about including the lye on one's labels, while the other side is for putting "saponified oils of..." on their labels instead. Both sides have their points, and I finally came to a personal choice to include 'sodium hydroxide' on my labels because, the way I have understood it from reading all the posts about the argument pro and con, not all my oils are actually saponified due to my superfat level. I don't know.....what do y'all think about that?

At any rate, though, even with 'Sodium Hydroxide' listed on my labels, I have no lack of requests for my soap. I've been questioned about it only by one or two people, but once I explained the saponification process to them, they were perfectly fine with it and have had no more hesitation of using and/or requesting more of my soap.



IrishLass
 
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You are logically correct Lassie. If you superfat (almost all of us) then it should read, "Unsaponified and saponified oils of ..." or something like that.

I'm glad we 'Mericans have less restrictive labeling laws. I think we are all good to go with, "Saponified oils of ..." and not mentioning lye. That's just my opinion, IANAL, etc. :)
 
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I have one more bit of advice to add, taken from Susan Miller Cavitch's book "The Soapmaker's Companion."

"Some soapmakers are under the erroneous impression that a chemical is not an ingredient if it is reacted with other chemicals and is thus no longer present in the final product. These soapmakers, for example, do not think that sodium hydroxide need be listed, since there is no sodium hydroxide left in their final bars. They are wrong. The FDA defines the term as 'any single chemical entity or mixture used as a component of a cosmetic product.' And manufacture means 'the making of any cosmetic product by chemical, physical, biological, or other procedures.' Combining these two definitions clarifies that an ingredient is any single chemical entity or mixture used as a component in the making of any cosmetic product -- including sodium hydroxide. The definition clearly anticipates that the manufacturing process may be a chemical one in which an ingredient reacts and is no longer present in the final product."

While Cavitch is discussing cosmetics (soap as a cosmetic product) and not generic soap, and we know that we can call it soap if we make no medical or curative claims, I now feel that it would be best to simply include the lye as "sodium hydroxide" and at least avoid the scare term "lye."

So if I should require labels for my soap in the future mine will have "sodium hydroxide" listed in its proper place in the most to least precedence of the ingredient list. Fortunately lye is fairly down in the ingredient list so at least it will be buried somewhat. That's a good way to be fully truthful and compliant without needlessly scaring people.
 

Deda

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Soap is not regulated by the FDA, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I don't think the labeling requirements are the same.

I know that all lotions, scrubs, balms and that kind of stuff do fall under the purview of the FDA. But soap, well thats a different kettle of fish.

edited to say: If you market your soap with cosmetic qualities then your soap is no longer soap, it's a cosmetic. Same is true for healing qualities, then it's a drug. You can , however, say that the specific oils used in your soap have specific qualities.
 
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Deda said:
Soap is not regulated by the FDA, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I don't think the labeling requirements are the same.
Apparently I did not make myself sufficiently clear when I said, "While Cavitch is discussing cosmetics (soap as a cosmetic product) and not generic soap..." I meant that her statement did not directly apply to soap sold as not a cosmetic (i.e. regulated by FDA), I feel that the logic is sufficiently strong in terms of what ingredient lists on all products are intended to convey that we should include sodium hydroxide on our soap ingredient labels.

The best websites I've seen have a page discussing the various oils and what their characteristics are, separate from the product listings. The product listings state which oils are used but make no particular claims.

What do you think? Include NaOH on soap, or not?
 

IanT

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might as well, at least because if people are wondering about it itll give them a chance to email you, and you to develop a relationship with them...and hence they might buy moreeeeeeeeeeeee lol
 
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