Frequently asked questions 2

Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about my soaps

Added Parabens?


Added sulfates?

Nope. But the sulfates you are probably thinking of are SLS or SLES, etc. Some sulfates are also good for you. Regardless, no sulfates (good or bad) at the moment.

Are your soaps organic?

Nope. This is a tricky question. No soap is made without either caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) or caustic potash (potassium hydroxide) unless we go back to leaching lye from wood ashes – which I will not. And that will still be a chemical, only a more unpredictable one to calculate safety for.

Other than the caustic soda, are your soaps organic?

This is also a tricky question to answer. For anything to be certified organic, there has to be certification that all the ingredients that go into it have been created without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. This reduces the range of materials I can use drastically. Also certified organic raw materials are also more expensive and difficult to procure. Frankly, it has not seemed important enough. You are not going to eat the soap, and it is beyond my ability for patience to ensure that a spoonful of herbal power I use as a colorant in a 4kg batch of soap has not had any chemical in its family history. While the main oils used – coconut and palm are usually extracted with organic methods or herbal ingredients like calendula from my balcony are obviously organic, I am frankly not going to claim any responsibility for what their manufacturers may have done to them. Not to mention, there are things like refined sunflower oil in the soaps. I tried using unrefined a long time ago. The soap went rancid pretty fast and that was the end of the matter. Refined, it is. If you want unrefined, order a special batch or choose from a lot of soaps that don’t contain it. Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5) used in skincare products is created synthetically, yet it is present naturally in our bodies and is vital for cell repair. Your shampoo or lotion with panthenol will always be better than without. There is no known danger of using it and a lot of well documented good. Makes no sense to evade an ingredient just because it is synthetic.

I try to ensure that any oils that have edible grade versions, are used edible grade. Any ingredients used are not just skin safe, they should ideally have beneficial properties for the skin – that is the whole idea of custom designed soap that is BETTER than the average soap around. This is all I can promise you. Ingredients used are usually mentioned on the soap’s profile. Sometimes they may get skipped (particularly if someone else has helped me to add the soap to the database), but I make the soaps myself and I have my recipes and I know what I put into each soap. If you have any concerns about ingredients, a simple comment/email/tweet (@Vidyut) will get them clarified.

Are there any dangerous ingredients in your soap

Well there is caustic soda…. the stuff that DISSOLVES blocks in drains…. but it gets fully saponified and is not present in the soap you buy. On a more serious note, I’ve made decisions based on my own research and judgment and I encourage you to check out any ingredients you are concerned about. For example, some soaps may contain additives like sodium lactate (this is not sulphate). This is useful to have a hard bar of soap when there are a lot of soft oils. It is also used as a food preservative, so I figure it is okay to use on skin, if a recipe will be better with it than without. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any health concerns about this.

Some other ingredients are the colorants. Things like mica powders, skin safe oxide pigments or titanium dioxide are minerals. Some people consider them natural, others don’t. I leave it to your judgment. There is some research about micas and titanium dioxide being potential carcinogens if their dust is inhaled. Since use in soap is never going to expose you to their dust, I don’t see it as a particular concern. I have no doubt that inhaling the dust of the best newage haloed clay pack or the most beneficial herbal powder isn’t going to be good for the lungs either. And you won’t, when they are used in soap.

Other dangerous ingredients can be …. pretty much anything if you have allergies. Essential oils, herbal powders…. Do read the ingredient list and make sure to email me to find out for certain that what you have an allergy to is not present in the soap you buy.

However, you should read up and decide for yourself. Ingredients will be mentioned on the soap page. If they aren’t, please ask me and I will reply as well as update the page. The site is still new, and missing data should not result in inadequate information to you when you need it.

This is just about being a savvy consumer. I have never had any complaint with a soap of mine harming anyone or even irritating their skin in the 6 or so years I have been making soap.

Are your soaps safe?

I don’t sell any soap I haven’t used on my skin without any problem first. You will usually touch it much later when it becomes even more mild. I bathe my 6 year old son with any of these soaps that is on hand.

Why don’t you have online payments?

I will have. I am just beginning to sell now. When I am selling enough to justify setting up a payments system, it will happen. Growing step by step. Walk along. Bank transfers aren’t so bad. I now do. Choose “Instamojo” at checkout to pay using your cards or netbanking.

Why don’t you offer cash on delivery?

I have not set that up (and am not in any particular hurry about it). I have asked the local post office if they can offer this support. They have said they will inform me of the process. They think I should wait till I have a reliable quantity of shipping happening. I will have to enter into some kind of agreement with the post office for it. Apparently it isn’t something you can just walk into a post office and book on whim (or it would be a top money laundering tool). Frankly, it seems too much of a headache to set up for a small home business like mine. I don’t even have the volume to qualify for VAT yet!

Why don’t you use anything except India Post for shipping?

Because I’m frugal (read stingy) – even on your behalf. My soaps are also priced less than what you’d usually pay for equivalent handmade soap (though more expensive than factory soap). I just don’t believe that more money should be paid when less will do – even if it is me being paid. I have found India Post to be very good at what they do, other than the inconvenience of having to go to the post office to send the parcels. They are fast, they are inexpensive. I simply take the parcels to the post office on my trusted bicycle. Meet them, chat with them while they weigh the parcels and bill me, and that is that. A nice, small town ritual of a home based businesswoman 🙂

When can I expect my parcel to be shipped?

I usually visit the post office twice a week to ship soaps. I aim for Tuesdays and Fridays. My son recently underwent surgery to fix a long undiagnosed dislocated hip. While he is recovering and half his body is in a plaster cast, he is in “Occupy Mom” mode, and well, it is my important duty, so I am shipping soaps only once a week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. This can change if there aren’t any parcels to send (d’uh) or there are a lot of parcels ready to go well before next shipping day. But as a general guide, when you make a purchase, expect your parcel to be shipped by/before Thursday – whichever Thursday is next (after your payment reaches my account – not just order placed).

Can I get a batch of soap made specially for me?

Yes. You can also request for a batch that is exclusively for you. For example sending required quantity of an attar/essential oil blend you have created specially for yourself/family and want it used in a soap batch for gifts, which should not be available to regular customers here.

Can I send you specific ingredients to use in a special batch of soap for me?

Yes, within reason and the laws of the land (no marijuana or cow fat, for example). Not all ingredients will work in a soap. I would recommend not thinking beyond:

  • base oils – almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, virgin coconut oil, lard, etc
  • additives like herbal powders or clays
  • Fragrance OILS – they must not contain alcohol. Essential oils and attars are good, as are specially formulated fragrance oils. This can still be tricky, as some fragrance oils can cause the soap to “speed up” or seize.

Do consult before spending a lot of money on something that may not work.

Please note: Most baby oil is liquid paraffin/mineral oil (glorified kerosene) – it will not saponify. Anyone with the bright idea of special soaps for babies using baby oil, ditch the idea now and start thinking of olive, rice bran, almond and such oils. If you are certain the baby oil you are providing is NOT MINERAL OIL, that is still not enough. I will need to know what the base oil is, and if it is a blend, I will need to know its saponification index value to use it in the soap and it will STILL likely make a terrible soggy soap. An oil that is excellent for massage may have great skin conditioning properties, but not form the lather or provide the cleansing that you’d want from soap.