Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hand Washing

Before I got into the art of crafting soap I worked as a registered nurse at my local hospital. I found there were many reasons my patients got illnesses and skin infections but there were a few that stood out more than others.

Hand washing will drastically reduce your chances of spreading viruses and bacteria or getting sick. The spread of infection is often due to bacteria on hands. Bacteria on our hands is often spread from our hands to our faces, mouth and nose. It is also important to keep hands away from the face for this reason.

We use our hands for everything. Our hands are constantly picking up new bacteria and spreading bacteria to new places. It is important to wash the hands any time you have been in a public place. This is where we pick up many harmful microbes.

Often times these microbes will stick to the hands because the palms of the hands can stay moist. The majority of microbes are not harmful at all. Many are beneficial because they actually crowd out harmful bacteria. This is why antibacterial soaps rarely reduce infection.

Friction is usually the most effective mechanical method of reducing microbes on the skin. Although this is true, too much friction can irritate the skin. The purpose of a good soap is to reduce the amount of friction needed to remove bacteria without irritating the skin.

Normally oil and water repel one another. Soap is a salt that is attracted to oil and water. When soap is added to water, it causes the oil on the skin to become attracted to soap. Soap functions much like a magnet to the oil and the water. What you are actually trying to remove from the skin are the harmful microbes embedded in the oil.

Friction is still important because dead skin can often cover the follicle openings on our skin, which can trap other harmful microbes inside the follicle. The most common microbe we battle with is Propionibacterium. This family of bacteria often times will produce enzymes that will break down the skin causing further inflammation. Propionibacterium is anaerobic which means that it thrives very well without oxygen or inside of a clogged skin follicle. If Propionibacterium is allowed to stay on the skin for long periods of time, it will propagate itself, usually on the face and shoulders causing us to break out.

It is important to avoid any skin inflammation because inflamed skin will often times cause our skin follicles to swell shut reducing oxygen to the follicle opening. Propionibacterium is usually abundant on the hands.

Other than hand washing, it is important to keep any broken skin clean. This is not done through a large amount of friction. If you have an open wound it is important to keep your skin away from river and lake water but this also can include bath water. Slow moving water or still water is the worst for inducing an infection on the skin. People with diabetes are especially prone to skin infections and cellulitis. It is best to shower if the skin is broken and to use a little bit of soap. It is best if the soap has a low ph because soaps and detergents with a high ph will often times irritate the skin. If the injury is more serious, it is important to keep the injury away from even shower water. If the skin surrounding the injury is pink and warm it is best to see your family doctor because this often times can indicate an infection. A wound bed should always be pink. Any other color can indicate a problem.

Why I make Bar Soap

While nursing I found that many of my patients had a hard time finding a soap that didn't dry their skin out. With Bar Soap you can add a very large percentage of superfat or excess oil.

With liquid soap, the problem is separation if you attempt this. Your only option is to add other ingredients that alter the performace of the soap. You can't have a clear soap with superfat because the fat causes the soap to cloud. Basically in order to make liquid soap perform like bar soap, you have to add more ingredients.

Often times liquid soap will leave less of a residue in your tub because it doesn't have the excess oil. This excess oil is very benificial. There is never an advantage to using a drying soap. This applies even to those that have oily skin. Often times trying to dry out your skin will only cause your body to work very hard to replace this oil. Much of the time this can cause skin inflammation. If you have oily skin you will have to wash your face more often because your skin is a more favorable enviroment for propionibacterium (the bacteria that causes us to breakout) to propogate. Still it is very important to avoid drying the skin out. If you are using a soap that causes your face to feel tight 15-30 minutes after you wash, your soap may be too drying. The temperature of the water you are washing with can also influence this. Water with an excessively high temperature will severely dry the skin. It is also best to keep the ph low on a face soap. Some body soaps have a higher ph and can dry out the face. If a soap has a low ph, it can be used on the body and the face. I only make soap with a low ph for this reason.

The goal really isn't to remove the oil, it is more to remove the anaerobic bacteria that is stuck to the oil along with dead skin trapped in the folicles. This bacteria lives better under your skin than on top due to a lack of oxygen. You want to make sure your skin can breath. Skin that has clogged folicles will remove oxygen from the folicle opening which can cause the bacteria to thrive better. Skin inflammation can also cause folicles to swell shut. In order to maintain healthy skin, it is less efficient to try to use friction alone to remove oil and bacteria. Too much friction will only inflame the skin. The purpose of soap is to make the removal of oil easier.

Soap is a molecule that attracts water and oil which normally repel each other. Since they are both attracted to soap, it causes the oil on your skin to have a greater affinity to the water. It is always important to ensure after bathing you are not walking away with dry skin. You should always have much less oil on your skin after bathing but the goal is not to leave your skin without any oil.

There are no soaps that are "moisturizing". If a soap is really doing it's job , it should be removing oil from the skin. There are only soaps that are "less drying" than others. This is the purpose of the excess oil that I add to the soap I make.

With liquid soap you often pay for a lot of water being shipped around the world because a very high percentage of liquid soap is water. You also must use much more plastic in order to contain all of this excess water. If bar soap is kept away from moisture and heat it can last a long time. A wooden soap dish with good drainage works very well because the wood often absorbs excess moisuture away from the soap.

The main advantage I see in liquid soap is the use of it in public places. Although the soap I make here at Monarch doesn't have anything in it that would allow harmful microbes to propagate. It is still more sanitary to use a liquid soap in a public place.

Bottom line, I wanted to make a soap that would be best for the skin. based on what I learned as a nurse and the research I continue to do on different ingredients. I figured people could just clean the residue from the tub every couple of weeks in order to save their skin from drying out.

What is a Boil?

As a Registered Nurse and Soap Crafter, I am often asked the question "What is a Boil?" Bottom line, it's an irritant that is embedded in your skin that your body is working hard to isolate and remove from the body. Much like a pearl is to a conch.

Many things can irritate the skin but usually it's an anaerobic bacterium or a staph infection that is irritating the area. Many bacteria produce enzymes that break down good tissue. Our body has a reaction to this, which is the inflammatory response. This inflammatory response to irritants can cause further skin break down if it gets out of control. Trying to reduce inflammation can be beneficial but much of the time anti-inflammatory medications can impair the immune system even further.

Sometimes boils can indicate something more serious. It is not normal to get boils deep in the skin often. This can indicate an impaired immune system. People with Diabetes or an impaired immune system often times have problems with skin infections, cysts and boils.

Our liver will often times metabolize hormones that would otherwise irritate organs including the skin. Teenagers are prone to breakouts because their livers are not mature enough to metabolize the increase of hormone production during puberty.

Acne is more of an inflammatory problem than it is a bacterial problem. Propionibacterium is abundant on all of our skin. Many people believe it is the cause of breakouts because it is the primary bacteria involved in a breakout. Propionibacterium alone would not cause a breakout. If this were true, a breakout would be highly contagious, which it is not.

There are many factors that can cause a breakout. Other than irritants the actual shape of a skin follicle can facilitate in a breakout. In order to reduce a breakout it is important to use mild friction along with a non-irritating soap. The reason it is so important to avoid irritation to the skin is due to inflammation. Inflamed skin will usually break out much more often than skin that is not inflamed.

People with oily skin break out often because of clogged follicles. Trying to dry the skin will not fix this problem because their bodies will work hard at reproducing the oil that has been lost.

Lotions can often times dry out the skin in some climates. Lotion also contains a large percentage of ester or wax, which can clog skin follicles. Lotion is usually a combination of ester, triglyceride, glycerin and water. Esters in oil are what make the skin water resistant. Esters also keep the body from losing too much water in a dry climate. Triglycerides will usually be absorbed by the skin often more than esters, which sit on top of the skin and inside of skin follicles. Triglycerides will give the skin a very soft feeling. It is good to have both Esters and Triglycerides in a moisturizer because this simulates the natural oil production of our skin.

Glycerin is water loving. It has no reason to be on the skin. Once the water evaporates from the lotion. The glycerin looks for more water. If the humidity level is high in your area, the glycerin can pull from this and the glycerin won't dry your skin so much. In dry climates, glycerin will often pull water from the skin. Oils high in triglycerides which are rarely irritating to the skin are Olive Oil and Hemp Seed Oil. Oils high in Esters would be Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter. It is VERY important to only apply a moisturizer to clean skin. Applying a moisturizer to skin with a large population of anaerobic bacterium will only facilitate a breakout.

Some people will add 3 percent Tea Tree Oil to a mix of these oils in order to reduce the population of Propionibacterium. Tea Tree oil's primary chemical constituent is terpinene 4 ol. This chemical is one of the very few naturally occurring chemicals that kill Propionibacterium. You should never apply undiluted Tea Tree Oil directly to the skin. Undiluted volatile plant oils or Essential Oils can cause severe skin irritation in some people.

It is also important to pay close attention to the chemical constituents that make up the oil. Each constituent has it's own chemical properties. Some naturally occurring chemical constituents are very irritating to some people. If you have trouble with skin irritation, it is best to use a fragrance free soap despite the therapeutic value of the volatile plant oil. Maintaining healthy skin is always about balance. There is no cure-all because inflamed skin has many possible causes. It is always important to pay close attention to anything that comes in contact with the skin, especially your own hands. Other factors can be types of fiber in clothing, detergents, cosmetics, medications, foods and many more.

I hope this article has given you some insight on how to treat your skin. Thank you for stopping by our site.

Sean R.

Monarch Soap

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Father Tuck's Sunny Days A Little Blue Sky


Father Tuck's Sunny Days A Little Blue Sky

(right click and "save as") download 10 meg version

High Resolution Scan


Father Tuck's Sunny Days A Little Blue Sky


Father Tuck's Sunny Days A Little Blue Sky

(right click and "save as") download 10 meg version

High Resolution Scan


Monday, June 27, 2011

Plate 60 Pygmy Musk Image

Plate 60. Pygmy Musk

(right click and "save as") download 57 meg jpg

Very High Resolution Scan of

Hand Colored copperplate engraving

by George Shaw circa 1789