Why does it matter which soap you use?

Author: John Smith   Date Posted:3 October 2020 

Try a quick google search of the best way to prevent the spread of disease, including Covid-19, and you’ll likely land on a page like the Centre for Disease Control, the World Health Organisation or Australia’s health.gov.au. In every case the number one prevention method is practising hand hygiene by washing with soap and water, with the second best option being hand sanitiser if it’s not possible to access soap and water.


While we have certainly noticed a surge in soap sales as a direct result of the current threat, we thought it was time to provide you with some clarity on soap formulations and how the difference between one formula and another can make a big difference.


Firstly, let us be clear and transparent. When any of the above authorities says soap is the number one preventative measure you can pretty much use any soap and it will be effective. Solid soap is a great option (perhaps the best) as it contains no water and you can use as much or as little as required to work up a good lather. Liquid soaps can vary quite a bit due to dilution. In some cases you may need more product or to lather longer to be effective. 

With heightened awareness and increased washing our hands can take a beating and our skin barrier can become compromised, leaving us more exposed and susceptible to problems. This is where the choice of soap becomes important.

Not all soap is created equal.

A well considered formula can deliver benefits in two key ways:

1. Gentle cleansing helps maintain healthy, undamaged skin - vital as our first line of defence against threats. 

2. When soap is well formulated it lasts longer so rather than being a luxury or something only given as a gift, it can become part of our everyday hygiene routines.



Fact #1

The fact is, many commercial soap bars are based on cheap soap ‘noodles’ which are mass produced and based on a palm oil formulation, heat processed with the glycerine removed to allow for a long and stable shelf life. Artificial fragrances are usually added.

The Washpool Difference

Our bars are packed with beautiful and naturally effective oils and butters - avocado, olive, macadamia, shea & cacao butter to name a few. We don’t use palm oil in any of our soap bars and we use a cold process method to ensure our precious ingredients maintain their properties. We use pure essential oils for scenting at safe levels, adhering to internationally accepted guidelines. Rather than our formulas being ‘one size fits all’ we offer a range so that the individual needs of our customers are met. 

Fact #2

Some soap formulas stand up better to water than others.  Travelling on my own last year (to study distillation in New Zealand) I purchased a box of five handmade soap bars. I was surprised to notice that I went through a whole bar of soap in just two days (with no one else to blame). On closer inspection of the ingredients, it turned out the soap was made with only soft oils. 

The Washpool Difference

Bars made with light oils like olive and coconut tend to be readily water soluble whereas bars made with a high percentage of butters (like shea butter and cacao butter) hold up much better and last longer. Although much more expensive to produce, at Washpool we choose to use a high percentage of butters so that our bars last well. 

To find out just how much difference the formula makes we conducted an experiment. We soaked the purchased bar and our bar in water for an hour and then shook the jar for a minute. We then weighed each bar. The purchased bar lost 20% of its weight and the Washpool bar only lost 2%. With everything else being equal I could reasonably conclude that instead of 2 nights, my Washpool bar should last me 20 nights.*

*For more info about how to get even longer life out of your soap bar here’s the link to our top ten tips for longer lasting soap bars.