The Benefits of Essential Oils in Soap: All You Need to Know

The healing properties of essential oils cannot be underestimated. For centuries, people have sought the earth’s natural, raw materials to repair both the body and the mind. In fact, ancient healers and physicians created medicines, teas and poultices that harnessed their powers. 

Which is probably why they are still in regular use today. 

Essential oils are found in so many of the items we use on a day to day basis. They’re in our food, our candles, and - yes, you guessed it - they’re in our soaps. But what exactly are essential oils and why are they so good for our skin?

At Bee Clean Soaps, we’ve created this mini crash course in essential oils to explain exactly that. 

What are essential oils? 

Essential oils are oils that are extracted from plants, bark and roots using pressing or a special distillation method that captures their scent. We’ll discuss this a bit later. 

Any essential oil that has been made using chemicals is not considered a true essential oil. 

There are many different types of essential oil such as lavender, peppermint and Geranium, and they can be used in beauty products, to soothe your senses in a therapeutic bath or placed in diffuser scents to calm the atmosphere of your home. 

Essential oils were used as plant based medicines, ointments and salves for thousands of years before we began using them in modern skincare products. But it’s no wonder so many soap makers fall in love with their cleansing abilities when the benefits of essential oils are evident even in mediaeval scripture. 

8 clear glass bottles in a line with essential oil plants inside

How are essential oils made?

Before we answer this question, we must first address the simple truth that humans don’t make essential oils. Plants do. 

These oils are made specifically by certain species of plant to attract pollinators and dissuade predators from snacking on them. 

What we do is extract the existing essential oil from the plant. 

But how does this work? 

There are 3 main methods used to create essential oils: distillation, extraction and expression. This can get a bit complicated, so we’ve done our best to break each of these techniques down below: 

1. Distillation

Steam distillation is probably the most commonly used method of releasing essential oils from plants. 

This technique hasn’t changed much since the days of court physicians because all you need for it to work is water, your plant, a container for heating and a container for collecting (essencier) - or a conical flask if you want to look particularly sciency while you’re doing it. 

Steam distillation works by separating the pure oil from the plant using intense heat. 

The plant is placed inside an enclosed ‘cooker’ with boiling water and steam which breaks the plant down and forces it to release its essential oil as a vapour. This is then condensed, collected and allowed to cool. As it turns back into liquid, the water and essential oil will separate, and the oil can be skimmed off the top. 

2. Extraction

Solvent extraction is often used to remove essential oils from more delicate flowers and blossoms like rose and jasmine. To preserve the ingredient, water and steam are not used in this process. 

Instead, they are immersed in a solvent (a substance like ethanol or acetone that dissolves other materials) which breaks down the essential oils into the liquid. This leaves behind a sweet, aromatic mixture known as an absolute. Although an absolute is not an essential oil, it can be used in the same way. 

You can create both absolutes and essential oils from many plants, and sometimes absolutes are preferred for their aroma because they smell more like the original plant. 

3. Expression

Expression is definitely the simplest method of releasing essential oils from their plants. 

It is as simple as removing the leaves or peels from citrus fruits and squeezing them by hand or using a mechanical press. 

Whichever method is used, the essential oils will then be bottled up into little containers of marvellous scented liquid, ready and waiting to be mixed into natural honey soap bars... or at least that’s what we choose to do with them. 

What are the benefits of essential oil in soap?

woman making soap using essential oils. Natural colours

All natural ingredient 

Using essential oils in soap bars takes away the need for synthetic scents and other nasties that irritate the skin. 

Essential oils are soft, gentle and most importantly, natural. Because they are extracted directly from plants, no additional ingredients are added during the production process so we can say with absolute certainty that these pure niceties are far better for your skin. 

Not only that, but they allow us to create truly beautiful scents for our soaps that smell like the great outdoors. Who could resist? 

Did you know that synthetic scents upset delicate baby skin? That’s why we’ve created our certified baby safe Honey and Oatmeal Soap Bar and Milk and Honey Soap Bar using locally sourced Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

Highly moisturising 

Unlike synthetic soaps, soap bars that contain essential oils are deeply moisturising and leave your skin feeling nourished for longer. 

In fact, many mass produced liquid soaps that promise fast results aren’t designed to be effective in the long run. This is because they extract all of the grease from your skin taking your body’s natural cleaning oils with it. 

When you use soap with essential oils, you nurture your skin’s natural quality leading to long-term skin health. 

Sustainable soap production 

Sustainable harvesting of essential oils is by far one of the easiest ways to keep soap eco-friendly. Not only does this prevent synthetic fragrances from flushing back into the ocean, but it also helps foster certain species of flower that are favoured by pollinators and other British wildlife. 

Choosing to purchase your soap from an artisan soap company that uses essential oils is a fantastic way of supporting sustainable skincare production. This is because little soap shops create small batches of soap that are far easier to control and manufacture than larger corporations. 

At Bee Clean Soaps, we only create soap bars in batches where it is possible to limit and monitor the quantities of essential oils we use, to create a healthier, happier planet. 

Free from chemicals

Essential oil that is produced traditionally is completely free from chemicals. 

You read that correctly. 

As we mentioned above, any essential oil that has been produced using chemicals is not considered a true essential oil.

At Bee Clean Soaps, we are always vigilant when choosing our essential oils to make sure they are as true and as pure as can be. 

Sweetly soothing 

As we’ve all experienced over the previous few years, washing our hands repeatedly during the day can unfortunately lead to irritation and cracked skin. This is because soap with synthetic and chemical ingredients can be harsh on skin. Particularly skin that is already prone to eczema and breakouts. 

Soap bars that are made using essential oils are far gentler to use and can be soothing to your skin. Their natural quality has been created by the planet to ease and heal. 

However, if your soap with essential oil continues to irritate your skin, we would recommend switching to an unscented lotion bar, or consulting your doctor just to make sure. 

Why do we use essential oils?

Here at Bee Clean Soaps, we are big believers in only using the ingredients that we need, whilst also giving back to the environment that so kindly gifted them to us. This is why we use sustainably produced lavender oil and rapeseed oil as the base for our natural soap bars. Lavender and Rapeseed plants are kind to the planet and a favourite of our honey bee buddies. 

We also use some of the fruiter essential oils like lime essential oil, mandarin essential oil and basil essential oil, all of which make up our glorious Beer and Honey Soap Bar: the perfect novelty gift soap. 

Our scents are 100% natural, and we will never compromise on this promise. 

However you choose to use your essential oil, we only ask that you indulge sustainably.

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