Is Hand Soap an Acid or Base? A Brief Deep-Dive


One question that we seem to get asked a lot here is whether hand soap is an acid or base. We are hoping to clear up the answer to this question on this page, as well as tell you the reason why it is so important that the pH of the hand soap is maintained properly.

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Is Hand Soap an Acid or Base?

Hand soap as an end-product will always have a pH of a base, also known as alkaline. In fact, is important that all soaps are basic. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be having that much of an impact on the skin. In fact, they may actually end up having a rather negative impact on the skin. We will be going to come to that in the next section, though.

Soap manufacturers, including ours, spend a huge amount of time ensuring that the ingredients have been balanced properly to ensure that the pH value remains in the ‘base’ range.

If we don’t get the balance of nutrients right, we end up with a soap that just isn’t going to be that good for anybody that buys it. As a result, there are some ingredient combinations that would never work when it comes to soap. However, that is a story for another day.

ph scale with examples

Why is it So Important that Soap is a Base?

When soap manufacturers make their bars, they try to get into a pH range of between 9 and 10 for a milder soap. There are some manufacturers that design their soaps to be a little bit about neutral, so around the 5-7 pH mark, but they are going to be exceedingly rare [1].

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Obviously, once you start to get below that 5 pH range, the soap starts to become acidic. You probably don’t need us to tell you just how much damage you can do to your skin if you are wiping something that is incredibly acidic all over it. We are almost certain that your skin would be rubbed raw, and you will be in huge amounts of pain. Obviously, no soap is going to be made at the 1 pH range. The soap manufacturer would have to be putting the only acid into the product for that to happen. However, even falling ever so slightly below that 5 pH mark can have a huge impact on your skin.

It is also important that you do not get too close to the upper side of things either. One of the reasons why soap is a base is because it helps to lift the dirt and grime away from the skin. However, if the soap gets a little bit too alkaline, it doesn’t do this. It will just brush over your skin without breaking anything down. If you wipe your skin with a wet soap bar that is at the top end of alkaline (12 pH), then you wouldn’t get clean at all. It wouldn’t really do anything.

Actually, that is not going to be the whole truth there. It will likely do something else. The soap, if it gets a little bit too alkaline, will start to break down the skin. If you wipe your skin with soap that steers very heavily into the alkaline side of things, then you are going to be taking chunks of your skin off. It is going to be exceedingly painful. Thankfully, all soap manufacturers will take great care to ensure that this does not happen.

How Do Soap Manufacturers Guarantee the pH of Soap?beakers

Well, firstly, they spend a huge amount of time ensuring that the ingredient list is perfect. You can’t just mix a few ingredients together and hope to get soap. You need to have the right combination.

Once the soap has been mixed up, it isn’t complete yet. The manufacturer will often have to leave it for weeks to months and allow it time to cure. Over time this reduces the alkalinity of the soap. Throughout this process, the manufacturer will be carrying out regular testing to ensure that everything is as expected with the end result. They may need to adjust the ingredients ever so slightly at times.

Rest assured, when you buy soap from a reputable manufacturer, you can be sure that care has been taken throughout the process.

References

  1. https://bellatory.com/hygiene-grooming/healthy-skin-the-ph-balance-of-popular-bar-soaps

Mark Sanchez

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