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Bar Soap vs Liquid Soap – Which is Better?

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Which is better, bar or liquid soap? Years before, liquid soap was not even an option. Now check out the available soap products today, and there are many different varieties available; bar, liquid, foaming, etc.

But what is the difference? Is it a big deal to pick one over the other? Let’s find out!

bar vs liquid-soaps
bar vs liquid soaps / photo credit: salubriousexclamation

Bar Soap vs Liquid Soap

Like so many beauty and health products, there are advantages and disadvantages to both liquid and bar soap. Over the years, a debate has come up over which is better: stalwart bar soap or showy shower gel.

Before you choose sides, keep reading to learn more about the two contenders.

1. Bacteria

Bacteria is the major cause of disease and the main reason you wash your hands, which is to prevent the spread of germs.

A 1988 study conducted by the Dial Corporation tested whether or not bacteria from a used bar of soap transferred to the skin. Commercial deodorant bars of soap were pre-washed and softened, then inoculated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli to create contaminated soap.

The test bars contained 70 times the contaminants that would typically be found in used soap bars. Then 16 participants washed their hands with the contaminated soaps and none showed detectable levels of either of the bacteria.

The researchers concluded that used bar soap did not transfer the bacteria from the bar to the skin and that therefore, were safe and recommended for use when washing hands to prevent the spread of disease.

2. Cost

When comparing bar soap to liquid soap, simple math will reveal the better buy. Any standard bar soap without any fancy additives is cheaper.

Bar soap is a better bargain but not by a bigger margin, until you look at how much it costs per hand wash. We tend to use more liquid soap than we really need, therefore when it’s all said and done, the bar soap costs less and while the liquid soap more per wash. This can up to a tidy sum in no time.

3. Ingredients

Bar soap is most commonly made from plant oils and saponified animal fat. Saponification is the process by which vegetable and animal fats are blended with a strong alkali to make soap. Liquid soaps are petroleum based and require stabilizers and emulsifying agents in order maintain their consistency.

These agents have been studied, tested and approved by the appropriate governing agencies but few if any studies shows the long-term effects of repeated use of these chemicals.

While diethanolamine or DEA is often added to liquid soap to boosts its foaming properties and creamy texture. A study which was conducted on baby mice showed that DEA inhibited their ability to absorb a main ingredient necessary for brain development. In high concentrations, mice also developed toxicity affecting liver, mild blood, kidney and testicular systems.

4. Environmental Factors

A 2009 study conducted at the Institute of Environmental Engineering concluded that liquid soaps leave a 25% larger carbon footprint, as compared to bar soaps.

Why? This is because it takes more processing and chemical feedstocks to manufacture liquid soap, 7 times more and that means 7 times more energy use and carbon emissions. Liquid soaps are also packaged in plastic containers which are harder on the ecosystem to break down and dispose of that are the paper cardboard wrappings of most bar soaps.

5. Fragrance-free Choices

Some people are allergic to fragrances, while others simply do not like them added to their soaps. Liquid soaps that are fragrance-free are often difficult to find. Bar soaps on the other hand, offer numerous options for those who prefer to use fragrance-free.

6. pH Level

Liquid soap advocates often cite the drying effect the bar soap can have on your skin. When this occurs, it is generally because the bar soap being use has a higher pH level. This can be very drying, in particular to sensitive skin.

The positive side is that there is more than one type of bar soap available, many with lower pH factors and also other ingredients that can help prevent the “drying” complaint associated with bar soap. Most bar soaps also contain glycerin, which is very therapeutic for dry skin and other sensitivities such as eczema.

7. Exfoliation

Exfoliation is the process in which dead skin is remove from the skin and body. With soap, this is done by adding mild abrasives to the product.

Bar soaps provide a more intense scrub and helps in stimulating circulation in the skin. While liquid soaps with exfoliating properties are used in conjunction with a loofah or sponge to achieve the same effects.

Over the long term, liquid soap varieties with salicylic or glycolic acid seem to do a better job of brightening the skin. Also, liquid soap tend to leave the skin feeling less gritty after the wash is done.

Which One is Better, Bar Soap or Liquid Soap?

This depends on the factors that are most important to you. If environmental and ecology are important, then bar soap wins. If the decision is regarding cost, bar soap wins again by a significant measure.

If exfoliation and moisturizing effect are at the top of your priority list, then liquid soaps are better. From a health-conscious standpoint, bar soaps contain fewer chemicals and do a good job in preventing the spread of germs as their liquid counterparts.

Read More:
1. How to Turn Soap Scraps Into a New Bar
2. How to Make Homemade Natural Shampoo
3. How to Lighten and Soften Your Hands With Citrus