Besides being zero waste, vegan friendly, eco-friendly & more there is a reason each ingredient is in the toolkit. We explore the science of cleaning and the actual function of each ingredient.
- Emulsifiers and thickeners
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 & oils into a dissolvable ‘soap’ which can be cleaned away with water.
By nature, they have powerful degreasing & stain removing qualities as well as can soften water.
Washing Soda, Borax & Bicarb are the alkali sodium cousins which range in pH levels & in power. They can all be found naturally in ancient mineral deposits & in your Under Your Sink Starter Kits.
Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
It raises the pH of water which assists in breaking up grease & grime. Strong degreaser, disinfectant & general cleaner.
The strongest of the sodium cousins but may be considered a bit harsher for sensitive skin.
A builder which enhances the action of surfactants (e.g. soap) by softening water. Also has moderate whitening/disinfecting power.
A controversial ingredient that is often promoted as great for health if ingested, this is where majority of the ‘safety concerns’ lay. But in terms of cleaning with it, centuries have proven its benefits.
Very well-known with many practical uses around the home. It converts some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide providing a mild whitening/disinfecting power.
A natural odour eater too!
2. OXYGEN BLEACH
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 & other whitening products & also found in most commercial cleaners like dishwasher tablets, laundry powder.
Sodium Percarbonate is a natural, powerful Oxybleach which is simply a combination of washing soda & hydrogen peroxide.
A non-chlorine natural Oxybleach which brightens, whitens & 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.
There are MANY surfactants on the market – chemical companies are falling over themselves to invent new more powerful & now ‘greener’ options, because this is the function of cleaning that is vital in lifting dirt & oil. Two of the most common are Soap & Detergent.
Soap is made with lye (strong alkali), oils (plant or animal) & water. During the process the lye is fully converted to soap & no traces should be left in the product. Let’s face it, oils can be expensive & 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.
Organic 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.
Ours is a liquid soap, handmade in Melbourne from only pure organic virgin olive & coconut oil, water & lye. It's versatile, safe & the gentlest purest form of soap.
Organic 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 & lye. This means it's very high in cleansing properties & provided a lot more lather than Castile Soap.
It only has its own natural fragrance, none added! So don't take a bit smell of the powder & avoid breathing the raised dust.
No, not talking about having some LSD in your toolkit, just some good old Vinegar & 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 & Bases is they neutralise each other when mixed together. 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 & 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 & remove any of that leftover soap scum.
This easily to dissolve white crystal like powder removes hard water deposits & neutralises soap scum. Making this ideal in the bathroom, as a fabric softener, disinfectant & rinse aid.
5. EMULSIFIERS & 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.
Organic Vegetable Glycerine
A by-product of the soap making process, this is a perfect emulsifier for Xanthan Gum & essential oils.
Glycerine naturally absorbs moisture, making it an amazing moisturiser to use directly on your skin or in DIY beauty recipes. Warning though, it can get a bit 'sticky'
Used from cosmetics to cooking, it works (& looks) very much like corn flour. It's a natural thickening agent and stabilizer which prevent ingredients from separating.
Made from natural sugars & the power of fermentation.
Happy Green Cleaning!