What is saponification? Well, I’ll gladly share my newfound knowledge. “Saponification” is the process of soap-making; it describes the chemical reaction that takes place between an acid and a base to produce soap.
And why would a girl who has spent nearly three weeks kicking and screaming her way to No ‘Poo paradise suddenly start talking soap? Well, this may ruin my reputation with Mother Nature, but I’ve decided to add some saponification to my hair care line. What happened to No ‘Poo?
No ‘Poo is history. I have vowed that Monday’s meltdown was my last. No more of this No ‘Poo nonsense. It has been eating away at my emotional well-being for three weeks with the constant worry of greasy hair and dry shampoo. I lose sleep at night wondering what I’ll find on my head in the morning. Nope – No ‘Poo is not for me. Apparently there are some hair types that take to cutting out chemicals better than others, and it makes me feel better to tell myself that my hair is just not a No ‘Poo type.
But what really sealed the deal for me is when I found out what my “natural” and supposedly “hair-friendly” BS/vinegar remedies are doing. According to the stylist who has cut my hair since I was in grade school (obviously I trust her), all of the products I’ve been using – baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice – are rather harsh natural clarifiers. This means they strip my hair of its oils, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to avoid by going No ‘Poo.
Since I felt a bit duped by the whole No ‘Poo campaign, I had a lot less guilt going back to regular shampoo for a few (2) days while I found a new alternative. I found I had a lot of questions about what “natural” really means. Is something natural only if it comes straight from the earth? What about products that are manmade from all-natural ingredients? What about products that contain non-harmful chemicals? Baking soda and vinegar had seemed pretty simple and pretty natural to me, but no matter how natural they were they didn’t clean my hair well and left it looking dull, dark and dreary.
Enter: Dr. Bronner. Even before I started becoming a dirty hippie, I had heard this name thrown around. Seems as though he has invented something he calls an “18-in-1 magic soap” with no harsh chemicals and totally natural ingredients. Right, Dr. B. – get over there in the corner with the other “doctor” who’s trying to turn lead into gold. Or at least that’s what I used to think before I was backed into my No ‘Poo corner.
My desperate need of a natural cleaner with harmless ingredients sent me crawling back to Dr. Bronner, tail between my legs. The ingredients in his castile soap include:
- organic coconut oil
- potassium hydroxide
- organic olive oil
- organic hemp oil
- organic jojoba oil
- citric acid
I was mainly concerned about the potassium hydroxide, citric acid and tocopherol. Now Dr. B. assured me that no potassium hydroxie remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin, but I’ve heard that real hippies never trust labels. Back to the internet.
Now the problem child. Here’s what I know about potassium hydroxide: it’s inorganic, harsh and corrosive. It’s better known as lye – a base for practically every homemade soap maker. Inorganic, harsh and corrosive? What gives, Dr. B.?
Well, it turns out that Dr. Bronner is not hoodwinking when he says the potassium hydroxide disappears during saponification. Apparently, during saponification, an acid mixes with a base (like potassium hydroxide), and after the process you’re left with just glycerin and potassium/sodium salt.
So I took that and ran. After all, I was in desperate need of a cleanser, and this castile soap seemed right up my natural alley. Plus, it was listed in most of the recipes I’d found.
Dr. B., you better not let me down. I really need a win.