How washing with high pH soap helps combat viruses.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is telling us that the BEST way to fight viruses is washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Very often. Because we touch our eyes and noses, a lot, and that's how we transfer the viruses into our systems. Using so-called "antibacterial soap" is not effective for combating viruses (which are very different from bacteria). And because the pH of real soap is key to its effectiveness in killing viruses, it matters which soap you are using. I am not a chemist, or scientist of any sort, but here is what I've learned.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), coronavirus "infectivity is exquisitely sensitive to pH. The virus was quite stable at pH 6.0...but was rapidly and irreversibly inactivated by brief treatment at pH 8.0."(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2159562?fbclid=IwAR03NQsZa9_j_pPhbU2XcuJocTY1GX4VE4NQO8_PHk8MOr4uid7wRqxWD0M)
So, in layman's terms, washing with a higher pH of 8+ soap helps to inactivate the corona virus! The higher pH of soap "dissolves the fat membrane around the virus, and it falls apart like a house of cards and “dies.”
We soap makers are a bit obsessed with the pH of our soap bars, which average around a pH of 8-12. Not picking on any specific brand, but many "beauty bars" and shower gels are not real soap, but are actually blends of chemicals, referred to in the soap industry as syndets (synthetic detergents). Syndets are specifically formulated to have lower pH levels of around 6-7. You can usually google the pH of your soap brand, and this might be a good thing to know these days! So while these products will wash off the dirt and sweat, they won't help deactivate viruses.
Now the whole discussion of whether higher pH is good or bad for your skin vs how many of us have allergies to common chemicals found in these syndet bars (like me), is better saved for another blog. And really, the best test is how your skin feels after using these products. But I do believe that low level allergies to these chemicals can be responsible for itchy and irritated skin, or even leading to flare-ups of certain inflammatory skin conditions. BTW, the same thing applies to shampoos and conditioners. If you're curious about specific chemicals, EWG.org is the best place to look them up.
Understand that it is chemically impossible to make real soap that has a lower pH, without adding synthetic chemical ingredients and detergents like Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, etc. Along with not being natural, these chemicals can be allergenic to some people, and some consider they may have negative effects on our immune systems. It one of the reasons many of us prefer natural real soap, instead of the chemical bars.
Yes, some higher pH bars can be drying to the skin, which is why why we formulate our bars with extra oils and soothing plants, making sure that we pamper the skin, while also cleansing it. Adding extra oils to our formula does not change the pH, but does make your skin feel better. Many commercially available higher pH soap bars dry out the skin, due to their cheaper formulations and commercial manufacturing methods, but ours don't. For example, while "triple milled" is thought to be an indication of a luxury soap, it really just refers to the commercial manufacturing process, usually using inexpensive ingredients to produce a hard bar of soap.
We sincerely believe that an olive oil-based bar is more gentle than a palm oil-based bar. We also use olive oil rather than palm, because of our commitment to sustainability. Those of you that are our regular customers know this, and understand why choosing our luxury formulated cold process bars really makes such an amazing difference to your skin. Paying a bit more for ingredients is worth it. And since we are now washing our hands many times a day, we're really noticing the difference. Aren't you? Let's all permanently change our habits for the better!
We're offering a couple of new ways to carry around our soap, so you don't have to rely on the harsh stuff in public restrooms. Our new Wellness Collection includes a Wellness Soap Tin, and a Mini Soap Tin. And while the Wellness Spray (made with the WHO recipe) is not available for purchase, we are including a free 1 oz version with every soap order, as long as supplies last.
What about when there is no soap and water available? Hand sanitizing spray should be just a backup to washing with soap, and since a lot of places are sold out on sanitizing gels and sprays, there are a ton of suggestions floating around on the web. I suggest relying on the World Health Organization (WHO) recipe on making your own sanitizer alcohol spray:
Other relevant links:
CDC on coronaviruses: https://www.coronavirus.gov/
NIH on COVID-19: https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus