Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by SubLowe, May 20, 2012.
Thank you for that. I am new to the site I thought someone would reply.
I will reply. I have used rain water in my soap making. I did bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a little bit, just to try and kill any harmful bacteria. The lye would probably have taken care of that, but I didn't want to take any chances. You might want to filter the water. Who knows what chemicals are in our polluted atmosphere?
Thank you so much for your comment. I'm still learning and I value good advice and practice. ;-)
Rain will bring down almost anything that’s in the atmosphere. That can include exhaust from power plants and cars (https://www3.epa.gov/acidrain/education/site_students/whatcauses.html) that forms acid rain, as well as fine particulates (from tires, dust, pollen, etc.). In areas that have a lot of animal farms, ammonia can be released to the atmosphere and then come down in rain. Rain will bring down constituents of smoke, as well as persistent organic pollutants (the chemists call them POPs) like hydrocarbons and pesticides. There are pesticides (like DDT) in Antarctica that got there by “grasshoppering” from areas near the equator through cycles of evaporation and rain. The rainwater will get cleaner over time if the rain event is extended. The organic pollutants can be reduced with a charcoal filter and the fine particulates with a coffee filter. Dissolved materials like ammonia can not be filtered out. I am not an an environmental scientist, but I had a dear friend who was. She studied “dry” and “wet” deposition of pollutants from the atmosphere at locations around the world, including Antarctica.
I have been soaping for years - always used "rain water". Never had a problem. I do live out in an Oklahoma rural area. I can't imagine
anything is wrong with it.
I would think that rainwater from most rural areas would be fine and perhaps better than some municipal water supplies and wells. If there is mostly just dust and pollen it would be easy to filter. Rainwater from urban areas might be more questionable, especially if there is ever noticeable soot deposition from planes or highways.
I have doubts that rural rain is necessarily much cleaner. Storms are a culmination of factors, moisture/clouds can travel across many states, wind, temperatures, humidity, updrafts bring particles that can contaminate clouds.
You’ve heard of those rare news stories where fish rain down from the sky? It’s possible....some even hundreds of miles from their original home (experts id the species). So if it can rain ocean fish onto land 300 miles away, the pollutants are in rural rainwater.
Also, just the farm soil alone, contaminated pesticides and fertilizers and a breezy spring day can travel great distances.
FWIW, I'm in a rural area in El Salvador and my water supply isn't municipal but from a water co-op, so, for soaping I collect rainwater, purify it with bleach and let it sit, covered, for at least 5 days. At least during the rainy season. During the dry, I take a gallon or so of water from the house, and let it sit, also covered, for a week or so, to let the little bit of chlorine in it to break down. So far, so good. I can't get into town often, and I don't feel ruthless enough to ask my caretaker to haul a gallon of distilled water on a bus.
My water is clear, doesn't smell like anything, and leaves a tiny amount of white deposit in a pot if I boil it. My soaps bubble and lather great, don't irritate my sensitive skin, and a half brother and his wife took it to Canada (Saskatchewan) and they love them.
I figure it's a wash-off product so it's not going to transfer whatever is in the water to my body, any more than what the atmosphere anywhere does already.
I luv soap made with rainwater or snow... it's "soft" water. Makes nice soap. Just don't collect the stuff that runs off the roof of the house.
I also use rainwater whenever possible. I don't collect the stuff that pours down in the beginning though.
I stand my bucket in the middle of the garden where it won't get the water dropping from the trees or roof maybe after about 20mins or so of rain. I only filter it for bigger sold particles, that's it.
I have no explanation as to why this is what I do though lol
I too have used rain water in soap. I put a bucket in the middle of the yard and filtered through a sieve. I didn't notice any difference in the soap. It gives some label appeal, IMO.
Rain water sounds so lovely, but here in Nova Scotia, we have a lot of acid rain. I suppose being so near the ocean has something to do with it. We can't drink our own well water as it is too acidic, and bath time yields no bubbles in the water...only on our skin. (I'm referring to my own home, as I can't speak for others.) Does anyone else who uses rainwater for their soap know if it is acidic or not? If I thought it would work, I'd try it too!
A quick google revealed an interesting bit of information:
I think you're out of luck for using rainwater there.
Actually, the ocean does not cause acid rain. Ocean water is slightly basic (pH >8). Natural rainwater, which could include water that evaporates from the ocean, has a pH in the range of 5 to 5.5 because it dissolves carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which then changes to carbonic acid (as in soda water). Acid rain has a pH in the range of 4.2 to 4.4 as shown here: https://www3.epa.gov/acidrain/education/site_students/phscale.html From the link I posted above (#24) acid rain is caused by chemical reactions in the atmosphere that turn some of the chemicals from industrial emissions and car exhaust into sulfuric and nitric acids. Prevailing winds carry the compounds from the heavily industrial areas of the US to New England and Canada, which is why those areas have had the highest levels of acid rain in North America. The good news is that air quality is improving significantly (and acid rain is decreasing) due to tighter air quality regulations: https://www.wbur.org/news/2018/07/16/acid-rain-tree-recovery.
Back to soapmaking... For comparison, pure water has a pH of 7 and the pH of lemon juice is around 2. pH is a log scale, which means (I think) that a pH of about 4 for acid rain is 1000 times more acidic than a pH of 7. My chemistry is too rusty to work out if this difference would require a lye correction. Maybe @DeeAnna or another soapmaking chemistry wiz will see this and weigh in.
Wow, I am impressed with everyone's chemistry knowledge! Thanks for the explanation of acid rain. I'm glad to know that the air quality should improving. I recall making my first batch of soap, and making many mistakes back then! LOL! One of them was using well water. Back then it was okay to drink it, but we still had acid rain. The soap did turn out okay, if you don't mind DOS, warping and a few other problems! I can't blame all those things on the well water, but it does make me wonder. Thankfully I've learned some things since then.
I usually use distilled water in my soaps, but I have an Alkaline water machine so of course I have experimented with making soap with acid water (5.5 pH), and alkaline water (9.0 pH). I was expecting there would be big differences between the two, but I didn't see any. Since our skin is about 5.5 pH, rain water (about 5.5 pH) should work fine.
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