- Commercial cleaning products contain a range of synthetic chemicals. Carry out some research to find out more about the possible harmful effects of:
- sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
- propylene glycol (PG)
- Take a closer look at three toiletry products that you use at home (for example shampoo, deodorant and hair gel). List the different ingredients in each. How many of the ingredients do you recognise? Can you find out what they do? Then visit a supermarket or a shop like The Body Shop, and try to find 'natural' equivalents of the toiletries. What ingredients do these contain? Do you recognise more of them?
Gift selection has all the range of soaps
- Design a poster to try to encourage people to use natural soap. Your key message should be that they don't need chemicals to keep clean!
- Design a complete identity for a new range of natural soaps. Your identity should include a name, logo and minimal packaging (like Simply Soaps, you should avoid packaging as far as possible).
You could try making your own batch of natural soap. Before you get started, it is vital that you follow these safety instructions.
- Lye can be very dangerous and must be handled with extreme caution.
- Wear rubber gloves, goggles and protective clothing.
- Never leave mixed lye-water on a table unattended - you must find a safe place for it to cool.
- Never use aluminium utensils or pots for soap-making. Lye reacts very badly with aluminium.
- Have some white vinegar to hand in case you spill any lye on your skin (the vinegar neutralises the caustic effect).
What equipment will you need?
- a plastic or cardboard container to use as a mould
- solid fat and greaseproof paper for preparing the mould
- a sink for clearing up spills and to act as a hot or cold water bath
- a range of glass, plastic or stainless steel spoons and bowls
- a large plastic bucket
- electric scales, so that you can measure small amounts accurately
- plastic or glass measuring jugs
- a stove
- a paintbrush
What ingredients will you need?
- 615g of coconut oil (solid)
- 670g of sunflower oil
- 670g of a light-coloured olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin)
- 295g of caustic soda (make sure you keep this covered until it is weighed)
- 930ml of still mineral water
- any colours, scents or other ingredients (such as flowers or shells) that you want to add
- Grease your mould using a paintbrush dipped in melted fat. Cut two pieces of greaseproof paper and line the base and sides of the mould.
- Melt the solid coconut oil in a large pan.
- Add the liquid oils to the pan and remove it from the heat.
- Pour the water into a large plastic bucket and add the caustic soda to the water to make lye water. Begin stirring as soon as you start adding the caustic soda.
- Bring the oils and the lye water to a temperature of between 35 and 36.7 C. You can do this by putting the containers in a sink of warm or cool water, depending on whether they need warming up or cooling down.
- Add the lye water to the oils and stir continuously. The mixture should gradually thicken and become more opaque. Once you can see tracing - the impression of a line of soap on the surface when you drizzle the mixture from a spatula - saponification has occurred. This usually takes about 40 minutes. If it still hasn't traced after an hour, leave it and stir occasionally until it thickens.
- Add any colours or scents that you want and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into the mould.
- Cover with cardboard and thick towels. Leave to set.
- After 24 hours, turn the soap out of the mould onto greaseproof paper. It is still caustic at this stage, so make sure you wear gloves and goggles. Remove the lining paper.
- Cut the soap into bars before it gets too hard. Leave it to cure for at least one month in a warm, dry place on greaseproof paper. Before using the soap, test its pH with pH paper to ensure it is mild enough (anything between 5.5 and 10 is safe).