Here is a list of different kinds of soaps and other products available in bar form:
- Soap! Meaning body or hand washing soap. Can be purchases completely package free and you'll often find many local artisans that make a large assortment of varieties.
- Castile Soap- extremely versatile and good for almost all personal and home cleaning, made from natural ingredients. Often is scented or infused with essential oils that can give it some additional benefits like being naturally anti-bacterial. Can sometimes be too harsh for sensitive skin. Usually paper wrapped
- Shampoo Bars- These used to mostly be found at Camping supplies store or Lush, but are becoming very common and wide spread. Can be sold package free, so don't jump on a brand at the big box store that's wrapped in tons of plastic and cardboard! Some are more effective for different types of hair, so you might need to try multiple brands to find your perfect fit.
- Conditioner Bars- A little harder to find than shampoo and definitely more difficult to find one that is effective for your hair type. They also just take a lot of getting used to, your hair may not have the "slick" feeling you are used to after applying liquid conditioner, but once dry, you can usually feel it's effectiveness.
- Facial Bars- Often made with charcoal or clay to help with removing impurities on conditioning. Some have tea tree oil to help with oily or acne prone skin. If you have sensitive skin or other issues, please consult your doctor as to which ingredients are beneficial or harmful for your skin type and ask the seller or manufacturer if its possible to get or buy a sample size to try before committing.
- Lotion Bars- I do not have personal experience with these yet, but it's on my list to try. From what I have read, lotion bars can dry out, so keeping them wrapped or in a jar can help.
- Deodorant Bars- I love these as there is a TON of unnecessary plastic in the typical store bought deodorant stick. Can take some getting used to, and the natural, aluminum free versions are typically good at blocking order but are NOT an antiperspirant. I personally use my natural deodorant puck all winter, but still use my old antiperspirant on particularly hot days. With some natural deodorants there may also be a "Detox" period where you are a little smelly even after putting the deodorant on, this passes within a couple days. There are also lot of other natural deodorants, like special crystals that I do not yet have much experience with, but will report back!
- Dish Washing: A usually white block that is best used by drawing a wet sponge or dish brush across it a few times to create a lather. I've found it works great on vegetable based grease, but can not always work on animal based grease (the bars themselves are usually vegan). I've sometimes had spots left on glasses, but wiping with a damp cloth is usually enough.
- Laundry- I do not know of bar that can go directly in a washing maching, some people do either shave flakes off Castile soap bars or wash using a bar of Castile soap by hand in a tub or sink. There are laundry "sheets" made to dissolve in the washing machine.
- Stain Stick- There are stain stick bars that can be applied right to and worked into a stain, some dish washing blocks can be used for this too.
- Toilet Bombs: Also known as toilet fizzes help to clean the inside of toilet bowls. Not also ways recommend for septic tank systems and houses with older plumbing.
General Rules when using a bar:
- Do not leave in sitting water! This is a sure fire way to melt your bar and shorten its useful life. Every bar should have some sort of soap dish that elevates it out of water or should be dried and stored someplace dry between uses.
-If you are not getting a good lather with your hands, trying using a brush, sponge or cloth. Also know that a lot of natural soaps are not going to lather like their chemical filled counterparts.
The best thing about bars is that they travel well, I often throw my 4-5 personal care bars into a jar when I head out for an overnight excursion and that helps me avoid using those little plastic bottles of product in the hotel. Just be sure to let them sit out to dry for a little while before putting them back in the jar. Bars are terrific at helping minimize waste, they are often package free or some with a small band or wrapped in compostable paper. Using a bar for just shampoo can eliminate 10-20 plastic bottles from the landfill per year!
On our site you will find No Tox Life Shampoo, Conditioner, Deodorant and the new Facial Cleaning Bar as well as their Dish Washing Block (TM). We also carry Soap and Shampoo Bars from Sappo Hill Soapworks. Try them out and let us know what you think! If you are ever not happy with a bar, we can offer a replacement style for free.