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Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not listed, please feel free to contact us.

More than half of our products are 100% natural. They're scented with all-natural essential oils, use natural mineral color, and do not contain preservatives. The others are 97% natural, and contain a high-quality fragrance oil. (The lotions also contain a preservative necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria.)

We  love our 100% natural products but the range of scents available in e-oils does not include many of the floral, fruit, and other scents that our customers love. We clearly indicate on the website which products are which, and you can also tell from the leaf symbol on the top of the bar. 

All the products are gluten-free except the soaps with oatmeal in them: Oatmeal Spice, Oatmeal Milk and Honey, Ultra Sensitive, and Good Dog. (Oatmeal doesn't contain gluten, but people who are sensitive to gluten tend to avoid it).

We make all our soaps with organic base oils (coconut, olive, palm, high-oleic sunflower, and castor) and butters (cocoa butter and shea butter). The essential oils and fragrances which make up about 2% of  each recipe are not organic. We haven't gone through a certification process yet that would allow us to use the organic logo on our packaging, but our oil suppliers are all certified. 

We can't definitively say that anything is completely safe for someone with a serious allergy, but here is some basic information. The lotion contains sweet almond oil, and is mixed in the same facility as our other products. Our lip balms, hand balms, and several of our soaps contain shea butter. People with nut allergies do not usually react to shea butter even though it is a kind of a tree nut, but you should talk to your doctor about whether it's safe for you. 

All the soaps are vegan except Buttermilk, Oatmeal Milk and Honey, and (when we have it) Goatmilk Soap. The lotions, hand balms, and lip balms contain either milk or beeswax. None of our products are made with animal fat. 

All the soaps have the same base of skin-nourishing oils and can be used on the face and body. If your complexion is sensitive, see recommendations below.  

We do, usually in the spring and fall when we're less busy. The classes will be announced on the SHS email newsletter, which you can sign up for below.

None of the products contain preservatives, except for the lotion, which is minimally preserved to prevent the growth of bacteria.

We use a good combination of quality oils, so our soap lasts an amazingly long time if you keep it in a soap dish that lets it drain. If it sits in a puddle or in a spot where the shower is beating down on it, it will absorb the water and melt.

All real soap is made with sodium hydroxide, otherwise know as lye. (If it’s not made with lye, it’s not soap, it’s a detergent.)  However, modern soap isn’t like grandma’s lye soap. The lye is very refined and carefully calibrated, and is neutralized during the mixing process by the fatty acids in the oils. Essentially, there is no lye left in the finished product. 

Soap is made by taking various oils or fats and combining them with a strong alkaline solution (lye). This starts the chemical reaction called saponification. As the mixture begins to thicken, we add the scents, flowers, etc. and pour it into a wooden mold. After about 24 hours it has set to the consistency of a block of cheese. We unmold it, cut it into bars, and let it dry and harden for several weeks. 

Wrapped bars should keep well and retain their scent for at least a year. If you buy unwrapped bars, it’s a good idea to keep them in the glassine envelope till you use them. You should separate strong scents so they don’t start to smell alike. 

Our soap contains 25% glycerin as a natural byproduct of the soap making process. (When you combine the fats and alkaline, you get three soap molecules and one glycerin molecule.) Some people think of clear soap as glycerin soap, but it doesn’t necessarily have more glycerin in it than our soap.  

Try the new eczema soap in our SoapRx line. It was created by Soapman Fred, a certified herbalist, and contains 15 different essential known to soothe the symptoms of eczema.

Handmade soap is better for the skin than commercially-manufactured soap. But for very sensitive skin, we’ve created Ultra-Sensitive. It is completely unscented, and contains shea butter and colloidal (finely powdered) oatmeal, (like Aveeno), which is often used to treat itching, eczema, and psoriasis. Many of our customers with itchy skin also swear by Buttermilk. For skin that’s just a little sensitive, many soaps will work. Avoid spice oils,  mints, or highly exfoliating soaps if you're very sensitive. 

We recommend the Buttermilk and/or the Ultra Sensitive. 

We recommend the Gardener’s Hand Balm….wonderful for dry hands. You just put it on first thing in the morning and at night, and it really protects the hands and reduces the tendency to get little cracks.

Nantucket Sea Clay is good. The clay reduces excess oil, and the kelp is good for acne. Also, we have a new acne soap in our SoapRx line.

Our soap is made from scratch from organic vegetable oils, including coconut, certified palm, extra-virgin olive oil, castor oil and cocoa butter. All our soaps start with this base which we enhance with botanicals, scents, spices, grains, and butters to work with different skincare types. 

We think palm contributes qualities to the soap that are hard to duplicate with other oils, but we also know that palm production is responsible for deforestation in some parts of the world. So all our palm oil is certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, a global organization dedicated to palm sustainability. 

Handmade soap has a different feel on the skin from commercially manufactured soap, even fancy triple-milled imported manufactured soap. Industrially-made soaps can be drying for this reason: to make commercial soap they have to strip the glycerin out of it so it will be dry enough to mill. We leave the glycerin in our soap, which makes it milder and more moisturizing.