Bergamot – You Know It Better Than You Think

You might not know the name, but you know the fragrance, and very likely, the taste. According to one industry source, nearly half of all women’s perfumes and a third of men’s fragrances contain bergamot oil. It’s also the most identifiable flavoring in Earl Grey tea and it’s long been known, in aromatherapy circles, as a calmative for stress. The Tree Known also as citrus bergamia, the bergamot tree is generally regarded as native to Southeast Asia and China and to have arrived in Europe, Read more […]

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Castor Oil – It’s Complicated

Like a lot of products in the soapmaking universe, castor oil and the bean plant it comes from have a long and complex history. The use of castor oil for medicinal purposes, as well as a fuel oil for lamps, has been dated back 4,000 years. It was known in ancient Rome as the Palm of Christ and, more recently in the Netherlands, as Wonder Oil. As recently as two generations ago in America, children had vivid, unpleasant memories of being given a spoonful of castor oil for whatever was ailing them. Ticks Read more […]

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Superfatting and Trace – The Yin and Yang of Soapmaking

Superfatting and trace. You hear the terms all the time in soapmaking. They’re both important to the process and they’re both the subjects of questions we hear frequently. Seen individually, they’re completely different. One is rooted in numbers – percentages and measured amounts – while the other is highly subjective. One can be illustrated in a numerical grid and the other you really need to see to understand. Together they represent the essence of soapmaking, the yin and yang. Some aspects Read more […]

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The Truth About SLS and the FDA

If you’ve been keeping up on skincare controversies the last few years, you’ve seen sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) in the news. For nearly all the wrong reasons. First, there were the unsubstantiated SLS cancer charges from one side of the fence, and then complete dismissiveness from the other. Neither side was right. But the cancer charges were at least rooted in concern for other people. The same can’t be said for the dismissiveness, especially from industry apologists. Why Read more […]

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Sodium Olivate and INCI Ingredient Names

This question has stumped a surprising number of people: What is sodium palmate? End the question with sodium cocoate or sodium olivate, and the circle of questions widens. Guesses and assumptions have been interesting. Most are convinced it’s nothing they want. The truth is, sodium palmate is simply another name for something most folks are much more familiar with: palm oil, specifically palm oil that’s been saponified into soap. Sodium palmate isn’t just another name, though. It’s the INCI name, Read more […]

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Phototoxicity and Folded Essential Oils

For soapmakers, and well-informed non-soapmakers, explaining what folded essential oils are might not be hard. For others, it probably is. In fact, there are some of us at Botanie who only just learned the answer. Low Pressure As a group, folded essential oils undergo extended distillation and concentration, most often through fractionating, a low-pressure “re-distillation” that isolates the chemical components of a substance in order to alter their balance. In the case of folded essential oils, the Read more […]

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Soap FAQ – Curing, Sweating, and Seizing

Here are discussions of three terms related to soapmaking that don’t come up as often as we think they would. For the first term – Curing – the discussions is is mostly informational. For the second – Sweating – it addresses something that can concern soapmakers, but is in the end harmlessly natural. For the third term – Seizing – the discussion points out something potentially more serious, something that can sneak up on you. Two Things at Once Curing is a process involved in all Read more […]

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How to Be Part of Palm Oil's Sustainable Future

It’s been in the news for years. We’ve written several blogs, including one explaining why we use it and the most recent explaining why it’s no longer enough to “just say no” to palm oil produced on Indonesia and Malaysian plantations. We’ve worked with international NGO’s, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), to establish connections between issue-oriented groups and small companies working toward the same goal. Concern from Beyond Borders  For America and Western Europe, Read more […]

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Back to Basics – What Is Soap, Officially?

It’s a trickier and more complicated question than most people think. But then, a lot of things get complicated when there’s a difference between how we use words casually and what they officially mean. Soap is one of those words that surprises a lot of people. Soap is soap, after all. It’s either a 4-oz rectangular bar in a certain aisle of the store or a gel-like substance in a bottle with a pump. Both of those examples might be true, but the greater likelihood is that what we’re calling Read more […]

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Tracking the Source of Vitamin E

Some products don’t have a lot of luck. Despite its healthful properties, and its longevity of use, Vitamin E has experienced a lot of public relations problems. Just over 10 years ago, news sources were reporting that Vitamin E did nothing positive, and in fact, “increased the risk of dying.” After the increased heart attack rumors were disproven, the next major report declared Vitamin E to be of no positive value – if not harmful still generally useless. A later report, also disproved, said Read more […]

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