Wondering what’s in our products, and why? Here’s the scoop…
Oils & Butters
At Idlewild, we choose oils and butters for the properties they give to our products. These may include the quality of the lather, emollience, moisturizing properties, and hardness.
Some of the oils we use in our soaps and body products include apricot kernel, avocado, castor, cocoa butter, coconut, mango butter, olive, palm, palm kernel, shea butter and sunflower.
We do not use nut oils (though our almond latte scrub bars do contain almond milk). However, we cannot guarantee there hasn’t been cross-contamination because our suppliers can’t guarantee it.
A word about palm and palm kernel oils: palm products have become controversial recently, and with good reason. All of the palm products used at Idlewild are RSPO certified sustainable to ensure that production is not contributing to deforestation. To learn more about the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, click here.
There are two main types of scents that may be used in soaps and body care products: essential oils and synthetic fragrances.
Essential oils are distillations of plant materials that retain the scent of the original plant. They are natural. All of our non-soap products that are scented contain essential oils, with the exception of our specialty holiday items.
Synthetic fragrances are manufactured in a lab. They may or may not contain natural plant oils as part of the blend. The formulations are proprietary, meaning that neither we at Idlewild Soap Company nor or suppliers know exactly what they contain. However, we only use fragrances that are paraben- and phthalate-free, and are, therefore, as innocuous as possible.
Why use Synthetic Fragrances at All?
Some essential oils are prohibitively expensive (sandalwood, rose, coffee and vanilla all fall into this category). Other scents simply aren’t available as essential oils. This is particularly true of most food scents. If a product of ours contains a synthetic fragrance, “contains fragrance” is noted on the label.
The Difference Between Natural, Nature Identical and Artificial
means found in nature and, in reference to soap colourants, includes herbs, spices, charcoals, clays and fruit/vegetable purées. It’s difficult to get consistent colours with natural colourants. Clays vary from supplier to supplier. Herbs and spices vary depending on place of origin, growing conditions, year of harvest, etc. Most natural colourants fade over time, some of them very quickly. Soap that is vibrant when it comes out of the mold may be significantly paler at the end of the curing time. A customer purchasing it may find the design entirely faded before the soap is even used. In addition, some natural colours (particularly spices) can be irritating to the skin.
means it is manufactured in a lab, but is identical to the substance found in nature. Soap colourants that fall into this category are oxides and ultramarines. The synthesized version must be used because: a) they are very expensive to extract and, even more importantly, b) when they are extracted from the earth they are mixed with toxins such as arsenic, lead and mercury. Nature identical colourants are gentle on the skin and are entirely non-toxic.
means a colourant is something never found in nature at all.
At Idlewild Soap Company, we never use artificial colourants, favouring instead nature-identical in order to achieve consistency in colour and design while maintaining a natural effect on the skin.
Soap is the result of a chemical reaction between oils and lye (sodium hydroxide for solid soaps, potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps) called saponification. It is not possible to make soap without using lye. Unfortunately, some soapmakers like to fudge the facts a little, which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding.
This is where we set the record straight on the “no lye lie”.
While true, this statement is pure marketing. No soap contains lye in the finished product. If it did, it would burn your skin. All of the lye is broken down during the saponification process. Indeed, soapmakers either discount lye or superfat (add extra) oils in order to ensure no lye remains in the soap.
In Canada (and in the US as well), soapmakers have a choice when listing ingredients on the label. They can either list what goes into the soap, or what is left in the finished product. With the first option, lye will be listed. With the second option, the names of the oils will be preceded by either “sodium” or “potassium”. For example, saponified palm oil in a solid soap would be listed as “sodium palmate” because during saponification the sodium part of sodium hydroxide (lye) combines with fatty acids from the oils.
There is a soap making process called melt and pour, in which the soapmaker melts a premade base, mixes in colourants and fragrances, etc., and then pours it into molds. No lye is used when making melt and pour soaps (this is the type of soap used in classes for children as it is safe to handle). However, the premade base is manufactured using lye. To be fair, making melt and pour does not require knowledge of the saponification process, and many of the soapmakers claiming that their soap is made without lye because they did not personally add it may be unaware that it was used to make the soap base.
All of the flavour oils used in our lip balms are natural, meaning that the flavour components are obtained from plant materials. They contain no meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, gluten, alcohol or synthetic ingredients.
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
There is no natural substance that will prevent oils from spoiling, but tocopherol oil lengthens shelf life considerably. It is added to all of our non-soap products, ensuring a shelf life of at least two years from date of manufacture.
Phenonip (phenoxyethanol) is an artificial preservative intended to prevent the growth of mold, bacteria and fungus in oil-based products. All of our non-soap products are anhydrous (containing no water), which means mold, bacteria and fungus cannot grow in them. Scrubs, however, are commonly used in the shower, which means they will collect water, enabling pathogenic organisms to grow. Phenonip is added at a concentration of 1% to all of our scrubs. Such a low exposure to a preservative carries a lower health risk than exposure to molds, bacteria and fungi.
Soap does not require the addition of either an antioxidant or a preservative.