What to Look Out for When Purchasing a Bar of Soap


The beauty of living a zero waste lifestyle is that you only need a few items and they are multifunctional. Soap is one of them, since I use it as a face wash, body wash, shampoo etc.
However, there are a few things to look out for when purchasing a bar of soap, which I have listed and explained in this post.

Soap is generally made by combining water, lye and fatty acids. Every other ingredient is unnecessary!

Buy your bar of soap unpackaged

This is important for 2 simple reasons:

  • Buying is voting

By purchasing a packaged item you’re basically agreeing to the packaging and signaling that you want more of that packaged product. However, once we start purchasing unpacked goods, marketers will see that there is a market for them and will put more unpackaged goods on the out there. If you can’t find unwrapped soap, go for one that is wrapped in paper, which you can recycle later.

  • You need to be able to smell it

Some natural soaps can have a very strong smell to them. I for one don’t like the smell of 100% olive oil soaps and since I use my soap bar as a body wash, shampoo, face wash and sometimes toothpaste, I need to make sure that I like the smell.

What your soap shouldn’t contain

There is a great article about toxic soap ingredients on botanikskinessentials.com If you now go and take a look at the ingredients of all the soaps out there, you will find that only few soaps don’t contain these toxic ingredients.

Why you shouldn’t purchase soap made out of palm oil

This is not only about an environmental issue, but also about ethical values. If you simply type  “palm oil” into your google search engine, you will find no positive post on palm oil on the first few pages. According to the Guardian palm oil “is estimated to be in around half of all packaged items found in supermarkets.
That is why “large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation
values have been cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm
plantations ”, as WWF Global states on their website.
The reason why this is such a big problem is because amongst other things rainforests recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen, which is very important from an enviromental standpoint.
According to One Green Planet the the mass deforestation causes the palm oil industry to displace native peoples and since only 16 % of the palm oil produced
is certified and sustainable, we can only imagine the kind of
pesticides and fertilizers the people working on those palm oil
plantations are exposed to every day.





How you can avoid buying products with palm oil in it

By making my own products I have managed to avoid purchasing palm oil and supporting
large corporations that do not care about environmental issues or people’s
health. The only time I have to be aware about not purchasing palm oil
is when I buy soap.

You can find out if your soap contains palm oil
by simply looking at the ingredients list.
If on of the first
ingredients is “sodium palmate” this means that the base of your soap is
palm oil combined with sodium hydroxide.

Example of a good soap

The soap bar I use is a chamomile and lavender soap by the brand Sæbeværkstedet
which I can highly recommend. (It’s ingredients are: Sodium Olivate,
sodium cocoate, matricaria recutita and lavendula angustifolia- no
sodium palmate!)

Ingredients of my soap explained

Sodium Olivate: olive oil+ sodium hydroxide

Sodium Cocoate: coconut oil+ sodium hydroxide

Matricaris recucita: chamomile ( who knows why they always have to use those fancy terms)
Lavendula angustifolia: English lavender

is generally made by combining water, lye ( sodium hydroxide) and fatty
acids ( in our case it’s olive oil and coconut oil). Therefore sodium
olivate is saponified olive oil and sodium cocoate is saponified coconut
oil –


If there is information about this topic you would like to add, leave a comment or connect with me via social media @thewastedblog #zerowaste



  1. April 6, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    Very handy as I am just updating my soap post.

    • April 9, 2016 / 11:07 pm

      I am glad to hear that. Looking forward to reading your post.

  2. May 3, 2016 / 11:23 am

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  3. Simone Veis Marxen
    June 6, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    Hey. Very interesting post. Thanx. 🙂
    One question though.
    How about the packaging? I can see they are located in Køge and I live in Århus. Is it recyclable?
    Best regards Simone

    • June 7, 2017 / 9:33 am

      Hi Simone,

      Thank you for your comment. I live in Aarhus as well and I ordered my soaps online and requested them to send it without packaging which they were happy to do. I have since switched to a brand called Isangs however, an amazing brand from Copenhagen, which is sold package free at Ganefryd ( at Latinerkvateret). It is a bit on the pricey side but the quality is beyond amazing. Here is the link to Isangs website: http://isangs.com/ ☀️

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