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How Do I Choose the Best Castile Soap?

By Nicky Sutton
Updated May 21, 2024
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Castile soap is soap traditionally made entirely from olive oil. It originates from the Castile region of Spain, which is where it gets its name. To choose the best Castile soap, carefully check the ingredients, and look for some that is made with extra virgin olive oil, which is considered the best for making this soap and is believed to produce a purer, more authentic product. This soap is known to be free from artificial additives and to be kind and gentle on the skin.

The best Castile soap is pure and rustic-looking, in tones of greenish brown. Although extra virgin olive oil is best, other oils are sometimes used that are cheaper and more easily obtainable, such as Pomace olive oil or vegetable oil. Some Castile soaps are produced using coconut oil, which is drying to the skin and can cause allergies in some people. Many producers use no olive oil at all, and these products are not considered authentic.

Animal fats are sometimes used, partly enhance cleaning ability. This is considered acceptable. The acidity levels in animal fats closely matches the acidity levels in human skin, ensuring that it does not irritate or have a drying effect.

This soap should, as a general rule, contain only ingredients that are fit to eat. If the ingredients are not fit for consumption, some believe that it is unfit to put on the skin. Castile soap of excellent quality should not be overheated during the production process because byproducts are created as the olive oil breaks down. The nourishing properties within the olive oil are retained if it is not overheated. Leaving the liquid soap to set at room temperature is sufficient.

Good Castile soap does not lather, and this is a sign that it is made solely from olive oil. The soap should feel exceptionally mild and gentle on the skin and not have a drying effect. Castile soap should be free of additives, so if a scent is detected, then the soap might not be of an excellent quality because of the addition of perfume. Additives such as potassium hydroxide also are sometimes used. This chemical is an organic compound with a corrosive nature and would not be found in a natural product.

The cleaning abilities of Castile soap are superior to many soaps. This soap also should last a long time and is easily used in a solid bar shape. The liquid version is commercially available, but this is not its traditional form and might contain additional ingredients.

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Discussion Comments
By anon926749 — On Jan 20, 2014

You mention that potassium hydroxide should not be used in a natural product. All castile soap is made by saponifying the oil with an alkali (generally potassium hydroxide to make liquid soap and sodium hydroxide to make bar soap). Generally, none of the potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide should remain after saponification is complete. However, without it, you cannot make soap. In the old days, they just called it lye. Without it, the oil remains oil instead of turning into soap.

By andee — On Aug 02, 2012

@sunshined-- I have made a form of Castile soap before but it would not be considered a pure Castile because there are a few other ingredients added to it.

The soap I made has mostly olive oil in it, but I also add some lye, water and fragrance. I love lavender soap, so like to add a few drops of lavender essential oil to my soap.

I know some people would feel strange washing their hair with a bar of soap, but you can also use Castile soap as shampoo. This type of soap is good for your entire body and you don't have to worry about your skin absorbing things that aren't good for you.

Another positive thing about using something like a Castile soap in the shower is it actually helps keep your shower cleaner and doesn't leave a ring around the tub.

By sunshined — On Aug 02, 2012

@bagley79-- In addition to people enjoying soaps that have a good lather, they also love soap that has scent to it. Sometimes there are so many choices of scents available, it can be hard to narrow it down to just one or two.

Since pure Castile soap doesn't lather and has no scent, I think it would be hard for a lot of people to get used to using it no matter how good it is for them.

I like the idea that all the ingredients in your soap should be healthy enough to eat. You will have a hard time finding a soap like this on your supermarket shelves. You may either have to go to a health food store or make your own.

I have made organic soap before, but have never made Castile soap. Has anyone ever made their own Castile soap?

By bagley79 — On Aug 02, 2012
If you have sensitive skin and can't use a lot of the commercial soaps on the market, pure Castile soap is a great alternative.

Most of the soaps that are sold in the store have a lot of chemicals in them and are full of ingredients that you don't understand and can't pronounce. I know what olive oil is, and know that it is healthy for me.

I think one reason people have gotten away from using a soap like this is because they like a soap that lathers a lot. For some reason, many people associate this with being clean.

Just because something has a nice lather doesn't necessarily mean it is good for you. Because I have such sensitive skin, I use Castile soap and never have to worry about how my skin will react.

The times I am away from home and have to use something else, I immediately notice how much more drying to my skin other soaps are.

By LisaLou — On Aug 01, 2012

When I was looking at different kinds of soap at the health food store, I saw some liquid Castile soap with a peppermint scent to it. I don't know much about Castile soap, but I didn't realize this was not a pure form.

All the ingredients listed on the back of the bottle were natural ingredients that I knew and understood. I also loved the light peppermint scent which was invigorating.

When I used this soap to wash my hands, it had a really nice lather, so that is another indication this was not a traditional form of Castile soap. It did leave my hands feeling very soft even after the first time using it.

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