using found red beach clay in soap

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izi81

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Hi all, newbie here :) I know I'm going to have lots of questions but I'll start with this one! I've read about using clay in soap. I'm trying to source as many natural local ingredients as possible, and the beaches here have a lot of natural red clay (which can make them hard to walk on at times - too sticky!). Can I use this type of clay in soap? I've seen references to red clay, but the clay is always powdered. Would I need to collect some and dry/powder it to be able to use it?

Thanks!!
 

penelopejane

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You have to be really careful with clay because it can contain chemicals or minerals or substances that are harmful. Like mercury or lead. You can't use potters clay in soap. I really think it would be safer to use cosmetic grade clay.
 
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earlene

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I don't normally use clay, but it stands to reason, you'd have to dry it first. I have to dry my dandelions thoroughly before infusing them in oil or I end up with mold. So I dry them in my oven at a very low temp, just like when I dry any herb from my garden. When I used to live in California I could air dry my herbs, but in this humid climate that no longer seems to work as well.

The added benefit of drying in an oven is that it would help eliminate any heat sensitive contaminants of the clay, although I don't know what those might be and how hot you'd need to make your oven to really address potential contaminants.

When visiting a soaper in Alaska recently and also another soaper in Arkansas a few months ago, both said they used local products and it did seem to have a sales appeal for tourists. The Alaska soaper used melted glacial water and the Arkansas soaper used the natural mineral springs water in some (not all) of her soaps. So it is done and apparently successfully. Of course in these two cases it was water with whatever natural minerals and not actual dirt/sand/clay.

ETA: Seeing penelope's comment brings to mind the warnings that have been in California (and probably other states) Fishing Regulations booklet for decades: Pregnant women should not eat the fish caught in California waterways (due to mercury content) and others should limit the consumption to amount of fish caught to two per week. That's from when I was still fishing California waterways some years ago. It may have changed since then. In any case, chemical contaminants as well as bacterial ones can be a real concern. I occasionally use personally harvested kelp in my cooking, and always give serious thought to the condition of the water where I harvest kelp.

ETA: I did a search and see the California safe fishing guidelines have changed drastically since I stopped being a fisherwoman! I'd have a hard time deciphering it now. Glad I no longer eat fish or even make them suffer the hooks I used to dangle in front of them. Poor things.
 
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izi81

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Thanks for the quick replies! I live in rural Canada, I'm fairly confident the clay will not be contaminated but of course I don't know that for sure. There is a big fishing industry here (lobster, haddock, scallops etc.) with no consumption limit issues (in fact the scallops are world famous apparently!). I wonder if there is somewhere locally I could find out if it's safe to use, perhaps the local university? I do think there is a big appeal here for local produce which is why I'd love to be able to use it if I can.

hmmm just found out there are deposits of kaolin clay mined in the province. Something else to investigate, as I've definitely seen that used in soap recipes! - scratch that, it has to be treated before it can be used and apparently it's not really mined much, most of it is imported from the US. Oh well!
 

Gerry

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Thanks for the quick replies! I live in rural Canada, I'm fairly confident the clay will not be contaminated but of course I don't know that for sure. There is a big fishing industry here (lobster, haddock, scallops etc.) with no consumption limit issues (in fact the scallops are world famous apparently!)
Hmm... let me guess. Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley girl? Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy? (I'm a Valley guy born and raised.)

The old timers all over the valley used that slippery red mud for facial masks they would let dry by wearing all night; they probably still do. Mostly they'd use the stuff from the banks of the tidal rivers. They all really swear by it, and it's part of a vanishing culture in that part of the Maritimes. I say "go for it and keep us posted of the results!" :)
 

RobertBarnett

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If you really want to use it (I would as it is a good selling point) you could always have it tested. I can get things tested here in California for around $30.00. I think it would be a good investment. People like local and natural.

Robert
 

Gerry

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If you really want to use it (I would as it is a good selling point) you could always have it tested. I can get things tested here in California for around $30.00. I think it would be a good investment. People like local and natural.
I agree, especially since testing is very affordable in the Eastern Canada. I used to have a small organic farm in Annapolis Valley and each test sample at the time was $7 as part of the certification process. This was many years back and apparently the price has more than tripled to a whopping $20 Canadian + your sample shipping cost. Your local agricultural extension office will have sample containers free of charge and the address of the nearest lab you will send it to. Keep in mind these tests will measure the ppm of various toxic metals and pesticide contamination for the purposes of certifying agricultural land - not for cosmetics. They don't test it for this use. They only do a full analysis, provide the measurements, and make recommendations based on the results.

In Canada however, cosmetic products need not be tested. Our Food and Drug Act simply states that it is illegal to sell products containing harmful ingredients or contaminants. Now that is pretty general and can lead to a legal quagmire if anyone complained of being harmed from your product containing a non-standard ingredient. Luckily unlike some other countries, in Canada they complainant would have the burden of proof - not the defendant. They would also need to show that it was due to negligence or malice on your part. That's why suing is so difficult in this country. But I suspect having test results for a non-standard ingredient would at least show due diligence on your part.

I'm not a lawyer, so if you desire to sell your soap with this ingredient it might be best to consult one for your own legal protection.

For treating your clay, I'd recommend making it into a slurry and using fine cheese cloth to filter out any critters like tiny snails and clams. Then I'd evaporate the water and bake at a high temperature to remove any other organic materials. Then grind it up into a fine power before using it. Then test it on yourself first! lol
 

izi81

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Hi Gerry! Yes indeed, Annapolis Valley :) I'm not from here originally though, we emigrated here from Scotland almost 4 years ago. That's really interesting to hear that locals used to use the mud for face masks. It is indeed super slippery and there's loads of it both in the tidal rivers and the local beaches nearby. I'd love to be able to make use of it.

There is a 'research station' nearby - New Minas - so I might pop in there and ask what their advice would be. Thanks also for the info about Canadian law, very good to know! I would like to sell eventually but I'm still in the very early stages of learning to make :)

Thanks for the help!
 

Gerry

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Hi Gerry! Yes indeed, Annapolis Valley :) I'm not from here originally though, we emigrated here from Scotland almost 4 years ago.
My family emigrated from Scotland to Annapolis Valley about 170 years ago. You're obviously late! :mrgreen:

There is also an organic farmer's coop located in Wolfville as part of an extension of an Acadia University research program. They might also offer some free help.
 

izi81

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My family emigrated from Scotland to Annapolis Valley about 170 years ago. You're obviously late! :mrgreen:

There is also an organic farmer's coop located in Wolfville as part of an extension of an Acadia University research program. They might also offer some free help.
hehe yes a bit late... and somewhat circuitous, one of my grandmothers emigrated the other way, to Scotland from NE USA :mrgreen:

Thanks for the tip, I will check them out as well. I do really like the idea of using the clay as an ingredient, hopefully there's a (relatively inexpensive) way of making it work.
 
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