Does Liquid Soap need a Preservative?
Preservatives- When to Use them
This question of whether to use or not use a preservative in your liquid soap remains one of contention, and that is why I am creating this page. It is basically a copy of one of my blog posts, but I felt the topic deserved a page of its own! There are so many differing view points, but I hope that the information gathered here from expert soap makers helps in your decision. I have a lovely recipe and step by step instructions on how to make liquid soap if you feel adventurous and have lots of time!!
If you are thinking about making liquid soap as part of your soap making experience, and especially if you are thinking of selling it, then the question of whether to use a preservative or not is a hotly debated topic!
Some sites and soap makers say no, while others will say categorically yes! Well which one is correct?
So let's look at some of the information out there!
My recipe for liquid soap does not have a preservative, but if you decide to use one, then it is easily incorporated into the recipe. Your main decision will be on deciding which preservative to use. However, the information in this post should be helpful for you. Choose a preservative that works in an anhydrous and water solution.
I have used information from three very useful and informative soap making sites that I believe are reliable and know their products. Each of these sites is listed in the Reference section of this post.
So why use a preservative in your product? Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in our products, which can cause separation of our emulsions, speed up rancidity of our oils and butters, and cause weird smells. Contaminated products aren't pretty and they're dangerous. There are countless reports of unpreserved lotions causing contact dermatitis, rashes, and worse1.
When should you use a preservative?
If you make a product with water, you need a preservative. Anhydrous products (oil based) don't need preserving, although products that might come into contact with water, like scrubs or in shower lotion bars, require preservatives.2
'Cold process soap (made with sodium hydroxide) does not need a preservative. For other high pH products such as liquid soap, generally if the pH is above 10 a preservative may not be required. If the pH is below 10, an expert microbiologist advises liquid germall plus can be used (despite the supplier recommended use below pH8). Alternatively, Suttocide A or Glydant Plus can be used.'3
It’s a common myth that anti-oxidants like vitamin E, Grapefruit Seed Extract and rosemary extract are preservatives but they are not – The following link offers invaluable information on preservatives. http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/when-should-you-use-preservative.html
Oxidation of oils and butters leads to rancidity and anti-oxidants slow down this process. These anti-oxidants do not prevent bacteria, yeast, or mold from spoiling your product. (Yeasts and moulds are fungi).4
The following information is taken from 'Talk it out Tuesdays' at http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/lotion/talk-it-out-tuesday-preservatives/
What kind of preservatives are out there?
Many people like their products and soaps to be all-natural, but sometimes there just isn’t a way to make everything 100% natural. Currently there isn’t a good quality, affordable, all-natural preservative on the market for home crafters. I (Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Brambleberry Soap Making supplies) have done quite a bit of research into this and come up with what I think is a great range of preservative options:
Germaben – It is also great preservative to use when you are making lotions, as it helps to keep them nice and creamy. Usage rate:.3-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 140 degrees.
Optiphen – Optiphen is a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative. It is best to use in your oil-based recipes like shampoos, conditioners, and some lotions. Found out how to use Optiphen when making your own homemade conditioner. Usage rate: .5-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Optiphen ND– Optiphen ND is a water-soluble, broad spectrum preservative. This preservative works best in surfactant based systems, shampoos, conditioners, gels, creams, and lotions. Usage Rate: 1% of the total weight of your recipe and must be used at a temperature lower than 176°F.
Optiphen Plus – Optiphen Plus is a water-soluble, paraben- and formaldehyde-free preservative. You can use Optiphen Plus in any recipe your are using water in and it helps to protect against bacteria, mold growth and even yeast! Usage rate: .75-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Phenonip – Phenonip is a liquid preservative that helps to suppress the full range of microbial growth in your cremes, lotions, salt scrubs, dusting powders and liquid soap bases. When making products at a higher temperature, this is going to be the preservative you are going to want to use. Usage rate: .5-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 200 degrees.
What is NOT a preservative!
An anti-oxidant is not a preservative. It lacks the anti-microbial qualities that other actual preservatives (Phenonip, Germaben, and Optiphen) possess. Many people get confused when they are researching preservatives and what is or isn’t a product that can help preserve their lotions and scrubs. We believe that a full-spectrum preservative (like Optiphen, Phenonip or Germaben) must be used to truly prevent mold and bacterial growth in your lotion products.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – Grapefruit Seed Extract (commonly known as GSE) is a thick and golden antioxidant that helps to prevent your oils from going bad in your lotions and lotion bars, but is not a preservative. We never recommend using GSE as the only preservative in your products. But if you are looking for a great anti-oxidant, GSE is the one to go with!
Rosemary Oleoresin – Rosemary Oleoresin, also known as Rosemary Oil Extract or ROE is an oil-soluble, all-natural extract that is used to prevent rancidity in lotions and oil-products. It helps to extend the shelf life of your product, but as with GSE, will not preserve it.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a thick and viscous oil that is super easy to mix into lotions, liquid oils, and even bath bombs for its skin-loving properties. It is a wonderful anti-oxidant, but it isn’t considered a preservative because it has no antimicrobial properties to it. Many home crafters use it thinking it will preserve their products, but all it can do is extend the life of the oils in your product (similarly to ROE and GSE).
What products need preservatives?
You wouldn’t want to find that your fabulous sugar scrub went bad after a few weeks, would you?
Any recipe that includes water in it or any product that may get water in it needs a preservative.
That includes most lotions and cremes, sugar or salt scrubs, and some types of body powders. Preservatives aren’t generally necessary in liquid soaps, but can be added if desired.5
As a natural soap crafter, you want to not only make natural products, you also want your products to be Safe! It can be dangerous to wash your self or lather yourself in nasty bugs that can cause serious skin conditions or even infections. So...I would ere on the side of caution and use a preservative like Liquid Germall Plus or Phenonip in your liquid soap to ensure that it remains safe to use.
Aussie soap supplies has a good list and supply of preservatives to choose from. You can find them at the following website http://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au//catalogsearch/result/?type=catalog&q=preservatives
An excellent source of information on preservatives, and well worth reading is an article on Making Skincare. You can find this article at http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/.
3. Reviews of 27 preservatives http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/