A lengthy description of what goes into our products
At RainDance Soaps, we utilize the bounty of nature along with modern science to create our soaps and lotions. Each base recipe is carefully crafted for effectiveness and safety, and lotions / creams contain a broad spectrum non-paraben preservative for your protection.
Every ingredient is there for a reason; we don't bulk up products with unnecessary fillers, extenders, or lathering agents.
Whenever possible, we get our ingredients locally. Not everything is available in Seattle - but we try to limit the shipping needs.
We use organic ingredients when feasible, re-use packing materials, recycle containers, and believe wholeheartedly in being kind to the planet. Handmade soaps are biodegradable and safe for use with septic systems as well as in the wilderness - using scatter techniques, handmade soap will not harm the environment.
All but a few of our soaps begin with filtered rain. Not only is rain the softest water available (it contains no minerals, sediment, or additives like fluoride or chlorine), it is plentiful and infamous here in Seattle. Though our annual rainfall is not that spectacular - roughly 35 inches per year - it does rain frequently, giving us a steady supply for our soaps. We collect the rain in three 50-gallon rain barrels and filter it through cheesecloth or unbleached muslin prior to use. The soaps that are the exception to the "rain rule" are made with goat milk, a local microbrew, or fruit / vegetable juice.
Most of our soaps are made with a base of six vegetable, edible oils: coconut oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, palm oil*, cocoa butter, and shea butter. Additional oils we utilize include evening primrose, hempseed, avocado, castor, wheatgerm, and sweet almond. Recently, we've introduced a grass-fed local tallow to a few soaps as an alternative to palm oil. If you have allergy concerns, please contact us for information on specific soaps.
Soap cannot be made without an alkali, so along with the water and oils we use sodium hydroxide. It is a chemical necessity, and is fully consumed in the soap making process. Modern chemistry results in reliable, consistent sodium hydroxide and precise digital scales means we are able to make soap that is safe and gentle. "Fight Club" jokes aside, modern handmade soap has very little in common with the lye-heavy, harsh, stinky soaps made with old bacon fat in pioneer stories. We could go into the chemistry behind soap making ad naseum, but will spare you the boring lecture. Suffice it to say, handmade soaps today are a luxurious cleansing agent that come in a mind-boggling variety of scents and colors.
Some of our products contain raw goat milk, coconut milk, local honey, and almonds. We make liberal use of herbs, botanicals, clays, and herbal infusions. Some herbs and fruits / vegetables are grown organically on our property (lavender, rosemary, carrots, etc.) and others are sourced from reputable suppliers; we buy organic when possible.
Scents and colors come from both natural and synthetic sources. We respect a person's choice to go "all-natural", and we offer plenty of products that utilize only plant- or mineral-based scents and color. Essential oils are sourced from a variety of suppliers that specialize in body care products and are 100% pure. Mineral colorants such as micas, oxides, and ultramarines are used along with seeds, vegetables, and botanicals that will impart color - annatto, beet, tea infusions, etc.
We also respect that some folks want scents that don't come from plants, and so we source skin-safe fragrances and colorants that are tested and approved for soap and leave-on products like lotions and lip balms.
Synthetic fragrances have gotten quite fabulous and often include some essential oils in their blends. There are also essential oils that are too cost-prohibitive or that carry too high of an environmental cost to use. Sandalwood is one example; we fully appreciate the real thing, but choose to use a high-quality synthetic instead. The chemical process of soap making is not kind to essential oils and many will be "killed" (resulting in no scent, or mutated scent in the final soap), but fragrance blends that are made specifically for soap are designed to withstand the process and tested to ensure they will retain their scent.
* A note on the palm: we source our palm oil from a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), an organization that supports sustainable palm oil production methods.