Last month, I received an email from Carmen Drahl, senior correspondent for Chemical & Engineering News, wanting to know if I had heard about the new solid body wash products from Lush and Bomb Cosmetics, and if so, what I thought about them.  To be honest, I thought she was just talking about bars of soap.  What’s so new about that?  But no.  Actually, just as I learned that liquid soap and solid soap have different chemistries, so too do soap and shower gel.  And as Carmen explained to me the difference between soap and shower gel, I started to get excited… Not for myself, but for my sister and others of her ilk.

A Plastic-Free Solution for the Soap Haters?

liquid soap
My sister’s liquid soap dispenser

See, my sister hates solid bar soap with a passion.  I’ve tried various all natural, handmade soaps on her, but she can detect a certain distasteful (to her) soapy smell in any and all bar soaps, no matter how natural they are.  And she doesn’t like the squeaky clean way soap makes her skin feel, either.  So I haven’t been able to convince her to give up liquid soap and shower gel or body wash in plastic bottles.   And apparently, she’s not alone.  Back in 2010, I asked the question, “Why are body washes in plastic bottles more popular than bar soap?”   And while most respondents professed their love for solid soap bars (the readers of this blog are, after all, a very specific segment of the population), several gave reasons for preferring liquid soaps in bottles.  I’ll get to those reasons further on in this post.  The point is, could a solid, packaging-free version be the answer these die-hard shower gel fans have been looking for?

What’s the Difference Between Soap and Shower Gel?

In her article in Chemical & Engineering News, Drahl asks the question, “Solid body wash comes without packaging. But does that make it eco-friendly?” (May 9, 2018 online version, May 14, 2018 paper version)  First a little chemistry:


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