Soap Bars Vs Liquid Soap: What Is The Environmental Impact? - Clean Folks Club

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  • Soap Bars Vs Liquid Soap: What Is The Environmental Impact?

    July 25, 2023 4 min read

    Soap Bars Vs Liquid Soap: What Is The Environmental Impact? - Clean Folks Club

    The use of solid soap bars is making a comeback. Up until I’ve seriously considered using solid soaps, I usually only thought of soap bars as being used by my grandparents or as freebies in hotel rooms. But as a result of the plastic-free movement, soap bars appear to be popular once more. In terms of storage and production, soap bars use substantially less packaging and water. They also typically last a lot longer. So, in order to lessen your impact on the environment, should you switch from liquid soap to solid soap bars? We will delve a little into the history of soapmaking and compare the differences at production, transportation and consumption.

    A little more about soap history

    Between liquid soap and soap bars, there are chemical differences in addition to visual ones. A combination of fat or oil, water, and an alkali (often lye) is used to make soap. Contrarily, liquid soap is typically a synthetic detergent created from chemical compounds as opposed to fats and oils.

    Therefore, there is considerable discussion on whether we should even use liquid soap that contains so many chemicals. This is particularly true of liquid antibacterial soap. You may have noticed that over the past several years, advertisements for hand soap that "kills up to 99.9% of bacteria" have gradually decreased in frequency. That's as a result of scientists beginning to voice concerns about these antibacterial soaps and how they're causing an increase in bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Additionally, no studies have shown that antibacterial soap is more efficient in cleaning than regular soap.

    Today, liquid soap is widely available, but it wasn't always that way. William Shepphard obtained the first patent for it in 1865, but over the following century, it was mainly solely employed for industrial reasons. It wasn't used domestically until it was initially mass-produced in the 1980s. It had to be simple to use in order to persuade homeowners to purchase liquid soap rather than soap bars. The pump dispenser was created as a result.

    Fats and oils have been used to make solid soap bars for a considerably longer period of time. Evidence of a soap-like material dating back to 2800 BC has been discovered. We also know that soap was created by combining fats and oils with salt and water in the ancient civilizations of Babylon, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Rome.

    Is one more eco-friendly than the other?

    It quickly becomes very frustrating when you begin assessing your purchasing decisions in terms of how environmentally friendly they are. Generally speaking, there isn't always the right answer. It's never as simple as you think because so much relies on the particular goods you're buying, including where it was manufactured, how it was transported, and how it was packaged. However, it appears that the case is more clear-cut when it comes to soap.

    Let’s start with the packaging. For good reason, switching to solid soap bars is frequently recommended as a way to reduce plastic waste. Typically, soap bars are available in recyclable cardboard packages or loose. On the other hand, liquid soap will always be packaged in a plastic bottle.

    Due to its higher water content, those plastic bottles of liquid soap are also significantly heavier than soap bars. This means that they require more energy for transportation and are also more difficult to transport around. Additionally, producing liquid soap requires up to five times as much energy as producing a solid soap bar in the first place. As a bonus point, if you opt for small solid soap makers who craft your soaps in small batches locally, there is a further reduction in carbon footprint and raw material wastage.

    Once you've actually gotten the soap into your own bathroom, the narrative continues. We consume liquid soap far more fast than solid soap bars, according to studies. This may be due to the misconception that more soap provides greater cleaning power or the development of excessively generous pump dispensers by manufacturers to encourage us to purchase more frequently. In either case, we use liquid soap seven times more frequently than solid soap. Additionally, studies have revealed that washing our hands with liquid soap uses about 30% more water than washing them with solid soap bars.

    Some people are using refillable dispeners for liquid soaps in a bid to be environmentally friendly. However, this opens up another can of worms with regards to contamination risk. A study shows that one in four public refillable bulk soap dispensers is contaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria, leaving your hands with 25 times more bacteria. 

    Should you swap to solid soap to lessen your impact on the environment? The response appears to be a resounding "yes." The majority of us could easily make this transition right away with little to no inconvenience. We always encourage using a soap dish, or a foaming soap net to help with the switch, but once you get the hang of the routine, you will find that it is not a difficult switch at all.

    The amount of greenhouse gas emissions you actually save each year by using soap bars as opposed to liquid soap, however, would be quite small. That's because a small number of considerably more significant factors—such as the regular transportation we use, the food we consume, and the energy we use to power our homes—dominate our individual carbon footprints. Therefore, if you're serious about wanting to lessen your impact on the environment, start with these elements. When it comes to lessening your impact on the environment, you're already doing a fantastic job if you use a renewable energy source, walk and cycle wherever you can, and cut back on meat and dairy in your diet. And if you want to take things a step further, choose solid soap bars. After all, every little positive choices we are able to incorporate into our lifestyle, to care for the environment will collectively make a bigger impact.