soap free products

how can I tell if a product is soap free?
And why advertise a soap free product? What are the advantages?
thank you in advance for the help.


  • CamelCamel Member
    Soap is created by the saponification of oils with sodium hydroxide (bar soaps) or potassium hydroxide (liquid soaps). I believe the "original" soap first came to be in the Middle East and was created by combining water, sodium hydroxide, and olive oil to make a bar. This became known as "Castile" soap. 

    Soap-free products are created using synthetic detergents/surfactants, such as sulfates, isethionates, glucosides, etc. Some of them can be considered "natural" as they may be derived from coconuts, apples, oats, etc. 

    The advantage of a soap-free product is that they are typically more gentle on the skin, as they can be pH balanced, while soaps are generally harsher and more stripping due to their high pH. 
  • If it has sulfates it is soap free  ;)
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Camel - We can only guess, but I suspect the first soaps were derived from animal fat (tallow). When cooking over a fire, the fat may have dropped into the wood ashes where the saponification reaction might occur.
  • CamelCamel Member
    @Perry, you are probably correct. Thank you for adding that; very interesting. 
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