A biodegradable soap is a cleaning agent that can decompose naturally over time. These soaps can help reduce environmental impact when hikers, backpackers, and campers need to bathe or clean their belongings. Depending on the formulation of soap that is purchased, it can be used on the body, face, hair, hands and objects such as dishes and clothes.
Non-toxic soaps can be made with organic oils so as to remain environmentally friendly. Oils can be used in soap formulations not only to provide a nice fragrance, but also as part of a therapeutic bathing experience. For example, lavender and peppermint oils can help relax a tense hiker. Tree oil, eucalyptus and pumice ingredients can help soothe aching feet. Jojoba, castor and almond oils are other common oils used in soap formulations.
A biodegradable soap can come in special formulations. Individuals might be able to purchase these soaps for babies or those with special skin conditions. They can be created so that they are unscented and free of additives that would otherwise dry or irritate sensitive skin or skin prone to allergic reactions.
Natural soap can come in form of a standard bar or a liquid. Liquid soaps can make bathing easier for hikers or backpackers who have limited supplies of bathing water with which to work. Shampoo and conditioners can be marketed as biodegradable as well, and hikers and backpackers might be interested in these products if they feel that they aren't able to wash their hair properly with a bar of soap. These products can come in liquid or cream forms.
In addition, a biodegradable soap can be used to wash objects. Natural soaps that help clean dishes or clothes can be employed instead of their harsher, chemical alternatives. Formulations might also include ingredients, such as citronella, that naturally deter insects.
It is important for individuals to realize that using a biodegradable soap does not necessarily mean that the soap is safe to use around all water sources. These soaps degrade over time, but they require contact with soil to do so. If it isn't used at least 200 feet (60.96 m) from water sources, it can pollute them and make them unsuitable for other uses. Campers, hikers, and backpackers are encouraged to keep this in mind and use the soaps wisely so as to lessen any potential effects on the environment.