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Why Add Honey to Soap? - Tanglebrook Soapery

Why Add Honey to Soap?

Is Honey Skin Care Magic?

Honey is a pretty common ingredient added to "natural" skin care products, so have you ever wondered what it is supposed to do for you? Well, the answer is... lots of stuff!

A quick Google search will tell you that the ancient Egyptians were using honey for treating damaged skin, and ever since it's been a skin healing staple around the world in both folk and traditional medical treatments. Sources mention honey's...

  • antimicrobial properties
  • immune system boosting qualities
  • anti inflammatory properties
  • and a whole lot more!

Wow. Potent stuff, right? But, how about in soap? Even if applying honey straight or in lotions & potions to skin might be healing, what does it offer in a bar of soap?

Here's what I think!

To start, I'm not a chemist or a dermatologist. I'm a soap maker. The actual reason I add honey to my soap is... bubbles! 

When making soap you learn that different oils add different qualities to soap. Some make more bubbles, some are more cleansing (i.e. remove more oils from the skin), some have more humectant (helping skin retain moisture) qualities, and so on. You choose a mix of oils to create the sort of soap you want. Sadly, though, this may require some trade offs!

Coconut oil makes great bubbles, but used at a high percentage it can be too cleansing (as in, drying). And here is where honey can come to the rescue!

Honey Bar soap with honey wand beside it
Tanglebrook Soapery

Sugar & Soap

To make a long story short, adding sugar to soap makes the soap more bubbly. 

There are lots of ways to add sugar to soap, and different additives lead to different sorts of bubbles! Milk sugars tend to create a creamy lathering soap, beer sugars make a foamier lathering soap, and honey leads to really big bubbling soap. And so on.

So, No Healing Powers?

Ummm... well, maybe some?

I'm not one to discount the experience and knowledge of centuries. Honey has some amazing properties, for sure. 

My skepticism isn't about honey so much as how much of the healing mojo survives the soap creation process. Saponification (the chemical reaction that makes soap) is a heat producing process, and the end result (soap) generally has a pH above 7, so, alkaline. According to what I've read antioxidants are sensitive to high heat and high pH. 

So, if we leave out the antioxidants we still have honey's antimicrobial benefits as well as its moisture retaining qualities. Making a soap better at cleaning without removing too much moisture leads to softer skin that is less prone to irritation. Pretty awesome!

Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey Soap
Tanglebrook Soapery

But wait, There's More!

We haven't even touched on the subtle, warm, sweet deliciousness of the smell of soap with honey added! Even without added fragrance a honey soap smells clean and sweet. And, I've found that it makes the soap ever so lightly exfoliating, which is nice.

So, what can we say about adding honey to soap
  • sweet scent
  • exfoliating
  • antimicrobial
  • moisture retaining (within the limits of a wash off product)
  • big, beautiful bubbles
  • and maybe other things that I don't have the expertise to write about!

pot of honey with wand dripping into it

Thanks for visiting! I hope you are doing well and wish you a day filled with simple pleasures!

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