Soap-Is Your Soap Good Or Bad For You?

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Is Your Soap Good Or Bad For You? Do you know what’s hiding in your soap? Interesting things to think about as we consider what may be in the soap we use. I asked my friend Karen to write a post about soap. You might ask why….I kept reading her articles about what’s in our soap we use every day. You have probably seen me share some of her articles about soap on my Food Storage Moms Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter accounts.

Soap, Good & Bad

Soap is good, right? Everyone knows that washing with soap is good, it helps to wash off dirt and grime, and washing with soap can even prevent illness… Before we knew about germs and how they spread, doctors used to go from patient to patient without washing their hands, spreading illness and death, in some cases…

Is there any way you would imagine that soap could be bad for you? If we are talking about good old fashioned soap, you would be right… But the soap we can get these days is not the soap our ancestors had access to. The soaps we have today are loaded with chemicals, and ingredients that can be toxic and harmful.

Toxic Soap Ingredients


You might wonder why I would list Fragrance in the Toxic Soap Ingredient list. Not only is it in the list, but it is at the top of the list. Of all the chemicals that can be in your soap and other products, fragrance chemicals are the worst offenders. One perfume or fragrance can be formulated from over 3000 different ingredients, of which many have been banned or put on watch lists by government agencies, like the EPA. If these banned chemicals were used in other industries, that product would be pulled from the market, the manufacturer could face severe penalties and be forced to re-formulate the product to remove the banned chemical before it would be allowed back on the market.

But not so with fragrances, fragrance formulas are proprietary, the formula belongs to the creator or their employers, which means they have the right to keep the ingredient list a secret. They are not required by law to disclose what they use to make a fragrance. If the list of ingredients to make a certain fragrance was made public anyone with access to the chemicals could make a copy and be competition for the owner of the formula.

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Because fragrances are proprietary they are not regulated by the agencies that normally regulate other chemical product industries. Some very toxic ingredients are being used in fragrances to achieve a certain aroma, scent or quality. Most fragrance manufactures strive to create a fragrance with an aroma or scent that does not dissipate quickly, which requires combinations of very powerful and toxic chemicals.

Are the fragrance formulators unethical, or unknowing? I don’t really know for sure, but either way we have to beware of anything that contains a fragrance because our government is not going to protect us, at least not now. Maybe in the future we will get the regulation we need… In the mean time we need to take decisive action to protect ourselves from products normally deemed safe.

  • Phthalates – Banned In Europe, Endocrine Disrupton, Carcinogenic, Development & Reproductive Toxicity
  • Parabens – Preservative, Bacterial Resistance, Endocrine Disruption
  • Synthetic Musks – Hormone Disruptor, Sensitizing, UV Accelerated
  • Acetone – Hazardrous Waste Lists (EPA, RCRA, CERCLA), CNS Depressant, Dryness; Mouth & Throat, Dizziness, Nausea, Un-Coordination, Slurred Speech, Drowsiness, Severe Exposure; Coma
  • Benzaldehyde – Narcotic, Sensitizer, Local Anesthetic, CNS Depressant, Irritating; Mouth, Throat, Eyes, Skin, Lung, Gastrointestinal, Nausea, Abdominal Pain, Kidney Damage
  • Benzyl Acetate – Pancreatic Caner, Irritating; Eyes & Lungs, Absorbed Through Skin
  • Benzyl Alcohol – Irritating To Lungs, Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Dizziness, Low Blood Pressure, CNS, Depression, Death From Respiratory Failure
  • Camphor – CNS Stimulant, Irritant; Eyes, Nose & Throat, Dizziness, Confusion, Nausea, Twitching, Convulsions
  • Ethanol – EPA Hazardous Waste List, Fatigue, Irritating; Eyes & Lungs, Drowsy, Impaired Vision, Stupor, CNS Disorders
  • Ethyl Acetate – EPA Hazardous Waste List, Narcotic, Irritating; Eyes & Lungs, Headache, Stupor, Drying & Cracking Skin
  • Limonene – Irritating; Eyes & Skin, Sensitizer, Carcinogenic
  • Linalool – Narcotic, CNS Disorders, Respiratory Disorders, Attracts Bees
  • Methylene Chloride – Banned By The FDA In 1988 – Stored In Body Fat, Carcinogenic, CNS Disorders
  • A-Pinene – Sensitizer, Damaging To The Immune System
  • G-Terpinene – Asthma & Central Nervous System Disorders
  • A-Terpineol – Highly Irritating To Mucus Membranes, CNS Disorders, Depression, Headaches

20 Most Common Chemicals In 31 Fragrance Products, Based On EPA Study 1991

Is Your Perfume Poison?

Toxic Perfume Chemicals Linked to Cancer & Sperm Damage

Campaign For Safe Cosmetics


What are Parabens? Parabens are chemicals used to control bacterial growth in soaps and other personal care products. Some of the most common are:

Butylparaben, Methylparaben & Propylparaben, there are many more that are not commonly used, all of them end in paraben. In addition to controlling bacteria growth, parabens have been found in malignant breast tissue, and promote bacteria resistant to pesticides and anti-bacterial agents.

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What Are Parabens?and Do I Need to Worry About Them?


Triclosan is used to prevent bacterial growth, and is actually a pesticide. Anti-bacterial agents and pesticides promote bacterial resistance, the longer we use them the more resistant bacterial strains are being developed. Triclosan, when mixed with other ingredients, creates dioxin. Dioxin is a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that negatively affects thyroid function.


Sulfates are chemicals that increase suds, and are often in soap, shampoos, body washes, and other cleaning products. Commonly used sulfates are SLS Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & LES Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Sulfates irritate sensitive skip, strip the natural oils making the skin weak and more likely to develop eczema and other skin conditions. When Sodium Laurel and other sulfates are combined with ingredients to make products less harsh a byproduct is Dioxane.


Is a byproduct from ingredients used to soften harsh detergents, is believed to cause cancer, damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and death.

Trying To Be Greener

Are You Poisoning Your Household With this Chore?


Banned in Canada, deemed unsafe for cosmetics. Diethanolamine is used in a number of products including Soaps, Shampoos, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Polishers & Pharmaceuticals. It can be irritating to skin, eyes and lungs, and harmful to the immune system. California EPA has rated this chemical as a possible carcinogen.

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Toxic Ingredients In Soap

Handmade Handmade Commercial Commercial
wo/Fragrance w/Fragrance Anti-Bacterial
Fragrance X X X
Parabens X X X
Triclosan X
Sulfates X X
Dioxane X X
Diethanolamine X X

How To Avoid Soap With Toxic Ingredients?

Some easy ways to avoid soaps with toxic ingredients.

About the Author

Karen Coghlan


Karen is the owner and author of Blue Yonder Urban Farms where she shares her 16 years of soap making experience in tips, how-to’s, and recipes for several different types of soaps. Karen is a survivor of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, this often preventable disorder was brought on by the use of several pharmaceutical and fragrance chemicals. Not being afraid to talk about it, Karen shares her insights and experience in an attempt to help others avoid this tragic illness.

Aside from authoring and maintaining her own site, Karen also helps fellow bloggers follow their dreams by sharing her knowledge and skills in setting up self-hosted, WordPress sites.

Thanks Karen for writing this very informative post about soap, it really makes us think about the products we use everyday.


8 thoughts on “Soap-Is Your Soap Good Or Bad For You?

  • March 7, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Hi there! As a soap maker with a small business, I want to thank you for this post. I have become so passionate about getting information out there about the benefits of using handmade, all natural soap. I enjoyed reading this and hope others find it informative!

    • March 7, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Susan, may I add your link to the post? I am glad you liked Karen’s post, Linda

      • March 8, 2015 at 8:40 am

        Hi Linda! Yes, of course you may add the link. Thanks again for all the helpful information on your site.

  • March 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great article. Dealing with skin allergies with my kids has made me look for natural alternatives for soap and cleaning products.

    • March 16, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      I am so glad this soap post may help your family. Skin allergies are so hard to deal with. I asked Karen if she would write this post for me because I totally respect her knowledge on soap making. Linda


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