A Canadian couple living in the Rockies who wanted to stay home and raise their kids started making soap in their basement.
Nina George, owner of Mountain Sky answers your questions about castile soap.
What is castile soap?
It's named for Castile, Spain, a region renowned for its olive oil. Castile bar soap was traditionally made with olive oil and animal fat. Today, solid and liquid forms are made with vegetable oils like coconut, hemp, jojoba, and olive. (Lindsay warns to avoid palm oil which is causing orangutans to go exinct.)
Beware: the term "castile" is used loosely. Purchase those made from vegetable-based ingredients and free from over processed detergents!
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What makes castile soap eco-friendly?
Authentic castile soap is made of plant oils, based on recipes invented long ago. Oils are mixed with an alkali—sodium hydroxide for solid soap and potassium hydroxide for liquid. Detergents and contemporary cleansers have only been around since the advent of modern manufacturing processes and the surge in petrochemical use.
Castile soap is gentle on you and the environment because it's free of artificial foaming agents, harsh cleansers, deconstructed fatty acids from vegetable oils or fats (aka oleochemicals), petrochemicals and/or chemical anti-bacterial agents (like triclosan). It's also biodegradable. Liquid castile soap is so versatile, you'll wonder how you lived without it so long.
Beware: many synthetic cleansers and body washes pose as "liquid soap" but don't contain authentic plant-based liquid castile soap.
How is liquid castile soap made?
At Mountain Sky, we mix vegetable oils with potassium hydroxide and stir for about six hours. Then the mixture is diluted. The manufacturing process is that simple and leaves little waste. The natural glycerin is retained to create a mild but effective soap that has natural antibacterial properties.
You can also make your own liquid castile soap. (The Queen of Green found this how-to video online but hasn't tried it...yet.)
Is castile soap vegan and not tested on animals?
Vegans can stick with liquid or bar castile soap made from vegetable oils. And many brands are not tested on animals—including Mountain Sky. You can always check for Leaping Bunny certification.
Where can I buy castile soap?
Many organic grocers and health food stores sell castile soap in liquid and bar form. You can also source it online, including made-in-Canada Mountain Sky varieties.
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green