What is Castile soap, and how can I use it?
What is "Castile Soap"?
Often we‘re asked “what is Castile Soap” and why is it popular with certain demographics? Is it really so much better than other soaps on the store shelves? Is it worth all that extra money and what can it be used for?
According to Wikipedia “Castile soap is a name used in English-speaking countries for olive oil based soap made in a style similar to that originating in the Castile region of Spain.”
"Castile" soap used to be made from 100% olive oil; it was mild and soft and even though our parents and grandparents liked it for its smoothness and especially for its mildness when compared to traditional lye soap, today’s generations have different expectations of what soap should be like and what it should feel like, and pure Castile soap (described by many as “slimy”) wouldn’t “fit the bill”.
We expect soap to produce a rich lather and wash well, last long and still be non-irritating and non-drying. To meet these expectations companies that make soap had to alter their Castile soap recipes. Most soapers add coconut oil and palm oil to give their soap desired hardness and richer lather but many other oils and butters are added to create unique soap characteristics. So even though olive oil may represent only 20-50% of the total content in such soaps the name “castile soap” remains popular as a symbol of a mild soap from days gone by.
Why is Castile Soap popular with certain demographics?
When compared to traditional lye soap which had a bad reputation of being harsh, Castile soap has been highly prized and viewed as high quality soap because it is gentle on the skin and useful for a range of other applications.
When compared to commercially produced soap which contains phosphates, sodium laurel sulphate and other harsh chemicals “castile soap” is made with natural ingredients and therefore it appeals to environmentally conscious people. Its completely biodegradable and earth-friendly. It is also very gentle and suitable for people with sensitive skin and can be used to clean just about anything – from baby’s body, your face and hair, to delicate surfaces and fabrics. For many people this makes Castile soap their primary choice.
Most commercial soaps contain phosphates, SLS, diethanolamine, monoethanolamide, triethanolamine and other environmentally harmful chemicals and compounds detrimental to environment, especially to aquatic life and our water table. They’re also drying to our skin and scented with manmade fragrances which trigger sensitivities and allergic reactions in more and more people. Castile soaps are made with natural plant based ingredients and therefore more expensive but definitely worth the extra cost. Their purity and versatility - from hard bars to liquid soap and foaming soap Castile soaps should have a place in every home.
Here are some suggestions on how you can use castile soap in your home.
Body cleaning – this one is no brainer; you can use castile soap instead of a commercial soap, instead of using it only as a hand soap
Baby soap – make sure you protect the child’s eyes as soap is not “tearless” which makes me wonder what do they put into those “tearless shampoos” considering that even pure clean water will irritate the eyes and make a baby cry
Use it as a shampoo – yes, you can wash your hair with castile soap – both bar soap and liquid and especially if soap was made with castor seed oil, jojoba oil, etc. which make it very good for the hair. It might feel a bit different at first since you’re probably used to detergent-based commercial shampoos that strip the hair off all natural oils
Use it instead of body wash or shower gel - our liquid castile soap is highly concentrated so we recommend that you pour only few drops on a wet wash cloth, sponge or exfoliating gloves
For shaving – you can simply wet a bar of castile soap and the spread it over your face, armpits and any other area and shave while still wet and leathery. Rinse with clean water. A bar of castile soap used for shaving could last you well over a year – inexpensive, toxin free and earth friendly.
Dog shampoo – dilute liquid castile soap in 1:1 ratio and use it the same way you would use any dog shampoo
Doggie soap – use castile bar soap to clean your dog’s paws after a walk or for a full body wash. Simply wet his coat thoroughly and then rub it with a soap bar until lather is formed. The thicker your dogs coat, the longer it will take to get a good lather; But it's worth it knowing that you didn't use any harsh chemicals that might irritate your pets skin or eyes.
Make your own fruit and veggie wash to breakup the wax, soil and agricultural chemicals on your fruits and vegetables. Add few drops of castile soap to a bowl of luke warm water and drop your veggies in; swish and rinse with clear water.
Eco-friendly dish soap – use an old dish soap bottle and mix 1:2 castile soap and water
Buy bulk castile soap and re-fill your hand soap bottles. Our liquid castile soap is highly concentrated so you can mix it with water (1:1) before re-filling your soap bottles
Make your own Toilet Bowl Cleaner. If you have an old toilet bowl cleaner bottle (with a “goose” neck) fill it with 1 part castile soap and 6 parts water. Add few drops of Lemon essential oil and Tea Tree oil (or Lavender if you prefer) for disinfection and shake well. Spray the toilet bowl and sprinkle generously with baking soda then scrub with a brush and rinse with clean water. No harmful chemicals flushed down the drain! See detailed instruction HERE.
Floor cleaner – just mix 1 part castile soap to 20 parts warm water in a bucket to mop your floors.
Window cleaner – mix 1 tablespoon of castile soap in a liter of water and pour into a spray bottle. When cleaning the windows always finish with a vinegar rinse (half water + half vinegar) which will give your windows brilliant shine
In the garden / Pest Control - 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap, 30 ml Neem oil (http://pennylaneorganics.com/index.php/diy-items/ingredients/essential-oils/neem-oil-30-ml.html) and 1 liter of water. Pour into spray bottle, shake well and spray your plants to deter bugs
And if you have left over pieces of castile bar soap you can make a handy scrubber – just follow the steps in our previous Blog - A clever way to make the most of those left over pieces of soap.