The Science Behind The Green Cleaning Ingredients

The Science Behind The Green Cleaning Ingredients


Besides being zero waste, eco-friendly and more there is a reason each ingredient is in the toolkit. Let’s explore.


Our Alkali’s

Nearly all cleaning products by nature will contain an alkali ingredient, which means the pH > 7. Strong Alkali's are used to make soap through the process of saponification. The same principal applies when cleaning with them, as they turn the grease, grime and oils into a dissolvable ‘soap’ which can be cleaned away with water.

By nature, they have powerful degreasing and stain removing qualities as well as can soften water.

Washing Soda, Borax and Bicarb are the alkali sodium cousins which range in pH levels and in power. They can all be found naturally in ancient mineral deposits and in your Under Your Sink Starter Kits.

  • Washing Soda: It raises the pH of water which assists in breaking up grease and grime. Strong degreaser, disinfectant and general cleaner. The strongest of the sodium cousins but may be considered a bit harsher for sensitive skin.
  • Borax: A builder which enhances the action of surfactants (e.g. soap) by softening water. Also has moderate whitening and disinfecting power.
  • Bicarb: Very well-known with many practical uses around the home. It converts some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide providing a mild whitening/disinfecting power.


Our Oxybleach 

Oxygen bleaches are materials that release oxygen for cleaning, bleaching and dirt removal upon addition to water. They are a much safer alternative to chlorine bleach. This is the key ingredient in Napisan and other whitening products and also found in most commercial cleaners like dishwasher tablets, laundry powder.

  • Percarbonate: A non-chlorine natural Oxybleach which brightens, whitens and removes stains. Brilliant in the laundry but also as a heavy-duty general cleaner around the home. It combines the alkali strength of Washing Soda with the disinfecting qualities of Hydrogen Peroxide


Our Surfactants

There are MANY surfactants on the market – chemical companies are falling over themselves to invent new more powerful and now ‘greener’ options, because this is the function of cleaning that is vital in lifting dirt and oil. Two of the most common are Soap and Detergent.

Soap is made with lye (strong alkali), oils (plant or animal) and water. During the process the lye is fully converted to soap and no traces should be left in the product. Let’s face it, oils can be expensive and during the war there was limited access to it. So, companies came up with other synthetic methods to create surfactants, many of which don't even contain a single natural ingredient.

For your toolkit, we recommend having a ground hard soap for your powder/pastes and a liquid soap for water-based products.

  • Castile Soap: To be a true Castile Soap it must contain at least 80% olive oil. It can be a liquid or hard soap depending on the lye uses. It's versatile, safe and the gentlest purest form of soap. 
  • Coconut Soap Flakes: This is a hard soap ground into fine powder/flakes. It's handmade in Sri Lanka from only pure organic virgin coconut oil, water and lye. This means it's very high in cleansing properties and provided a gentle lather. 



No, not talking about having some LSD in your toolkit, just some good old Vinegar and Citric Acid will do the job! Acids are at the opposite end of the pH spectrum to the alkalis (which are bases). The thing with Acids and Bases is they neutralise each other when mixed. That is why I cringe when I see recipes suggest mixing vinegar with Castile Soap, never do this! Yet when used one after the other they make a great team.

The problem with soap is the dreaded soap scum, which is the soap reacting with the calcium and other ions in the water. This is not limited to the bathroom, this also happens to your clothes when you wash with, leaving them stiff. The answer is rinsing with an acid to neutralise and remove any of that leftover soap scum. 

  • Citric Acid: This easily to dissolve white crystal-like powder removes hard water deposits and neutralises soap scum. Making this ideal in the bathroom, as a fabric softener, disinfectant and rinse aid. 


Our Emulsifiers and Thickeners

Although not vital to your toolkit, the ability to emulsify your essential oils & thicken your liquid products can come in handy. What makes them great, is they don't react with the pH of other ingredients when mixing.

We recommend Organic Vegetable Glycerine & Xanthan Gum as your thickener duo.  

  • Vegetable Glycerine: A by-product of the soap making process, this is a perfect emulsifier for Xanthan Gum and essential oils. Glycerine naturally absorbs moisture, making it an amazing moisturiser to use directly on your skin or in DIY beauty recipes.
  • Xanthan Gum: Used from cosmetics to cooking, it works (& looks) very much like corn flour. It's anatural thickening agent and stabilizer which prevent ingredients from separating.


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