Introducing our Solid Dishwashing Soap

Our New Solid Dishwashing Soap

We’re very excited to introduce to you our newest product; Solid Dishwashing Soap! Six months in the making by our wonderful resident soap maker (and Sales Director and all around brilliant guy!) Tom, it was an absolute no brainer to share one of our favourite simple swaps with you all.

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Although we are known for making the world’s best (in our eyes) beeswax and vegan wax wraps, they are just one of many plastic-free swaps we have made throughout the years as we try to do our best to reduce our reliance on plastics. We (royal We! Tom is the one who has become the soap maker in our house) have been making our own soaps for a while and thought it was about time we started to make bigger batches so we can share this great simple swap with everyone. We use our solid dishwashing soap for everything from washing our dishes, cleaning the counter tops, giving the oven hob a good scrub and cleaning our bathroom! Oh and not forgetting they are brilliant for cleaning beeswax wraps too. Not only has it massively reduced all the plastic bottles cluttering up our house but it has saved us a fortune too.

We originally had moved from our bottle of washing up liquid to a refillable eco friendly washing up liquid alternative, which was a great step, but as we looked into it further we realised that many of the refill solutions don’t offer a return service for the big plastic tubs that the shops would decant our liquid soap from. We also learnt that the carbon needed to produce liquid soap was 25 times that of a solid bar soap per use! So we began researching alternatives, and quickly found other benefits to using solid soap instead of liquid; it lasts up to six times longer than liquid soap and uses 30% less water.

I was also worried about all the chemicals in liquid soaps. If you take a look at many of the well known liquid soap brands you may find ‘harmful to aquatic life’ printed on the back, not very reassuring. This warning comes from ingredients commonly found in liquid soap such as SLS (sodium laureth sulfate which makes bubbles), parabens, dyes and fragrances which cause aquatic toxicity and negative dermal impacts. 

So, we decided that we should give making our own solid dish soap a go! We’ve tried and tested all sorts of recipes and ingredients but found that the simpler you kept it, the better it was.

Our solid dishwashing soap is super simple to use, and through our testing we have found pretty much everyone in the workshop has a different way of using it to work best for them. I like to wet the scrubber and rub it on the soap before scrubbing the dishes/wax wraps and then rinsing. Tom prefers to scrub the soap a little under the running water as the sink fills up, and others like to fill the sink and rub the bar of dish soap in their hands under the water to create a nice milk bath effect. Whichever way works for you really. 

However you decide to use our solid dish soap, you may notice that you don’t get the same mountain of bubbles that you get with mainstream liquid brands. These bubbles come from the chemical SLS, and have no effect on the power and ability to clean, so we’ve kept the chemical out of our hand-poured blend. This also means that the soapy chemical film left on your dishes that you need to rinse after use doesn’t exist with our solid soap, saving even more water!

We asked Tom to tell us a little more about his soap-filled six months…

 

The Diary of a Soap Maker

The journey to becoming a ‘Master of Soap’ was an adventure that I was excited to embark upon. I have been told that I am creative, I love to make things, and I don’t mind the odd mistake on the way. Having previously been a teacher I value the art of learning, and particularly learning through doing. 

The history of soap and its many varieties makes for interesting reading, and watching too, if you’ve ever seen Fight Club you will know what I mean, obviously, though, we aren’t allowed to talk about Fight Club! 

I was fascinated to research the history of some of the key ingredients I would be using, and in particular I wanted to understand how I could make my own lye or as it’s commonly known sodium hydroxide.

Sodium Hydroxide basically comes from wood ash, or sometimes seaweed ash. Many coastal towns in Scotland and the Highlands & Islands used to be the main UK manufacturers of lye, used predominantly in glass making and obviously soap. FYI lye is the compound that creates a chemical reaction with the fats used in the recipe to make what we know of as soap. Saponification is the technical term. And each type of fat or oil has a different property that it will add to the final soap bar. Some add foam, some hardness, some will moisturise and all will add a cleaning property. Our recipe has just two oils/fats, coconut oil and jojoba oil (which is actually a wax). Super simple and endlessly effective! I found out that to make your own lye is time consuming, dangerous, smelly and the quantities of wood or seaweed needed to make just 1 litre of lye is phenomenal.

As with all things new, the route to perfection has taken time, a very simple recipe – just three ingredients can have all manner of things go wrong. And indeed external factors play a huge part in the process too. The ambient temperature, humidity, qualities and properties of the oils used all have an effect on the final soap. We produced over 60 prototype bars and went through 16 different recipes before we arrived at the one that we are using today.

Soap needs time, soap making takes time and patience and just when you thought that you had ‘mastered the soap’, then something would come along and surprise you. The latest to bug me has been ‘soda ash’ a perfectly harmless white film that appears on soap after it is decanted from the mould. It forms when the lye reacts to carbon dioxide in the air. It has no impact on how well the soap works, and will disappear after it’s first use. I have now developed a method to stop this from happening.

So from start to finish making a bar of soap takes time. 30 days, 24 hours and 35 minutes worth of time to be exact. A steep learning curve, and one that I have really enjoyed, keep an eye out for further soap related news…

Tom

Head of ‘Soap Club’

Tom hand makes and pours all of our soap in small batches so each one is unique in its own way. He has worked so hard on creating this lovely simple swap, we hope you enjoy using it as much as we do.

Fran & Tom x