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Soaps a natural sell

October 06, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. -- It was a natural progression for Tanya Ortiz to go from putting all-natural foods into her body to putting all-natural soap on her body. 

Ortiz, 36, makes and sells all-natural soap from her new Web site, The liquid Castile soap she makes has no sodium laureth sulfate, which is in many soap products, and Ortiz uses hers for bathing, brushing her teeth, washing dishes, cleaning counters and bathing her dogs. 

"It's very versatile," she said. 

According to the Natural Health Information Centre's Web site (, sodium laureth sulfate is "commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to 'foam up.'" It is an effective foaming agent, chemically known as a surfactant. 

The Falling Waters resident said she mixes some Castile soap with baking soda, a drop or two of glycerin and a drop of peppermint essential oil to make toothpaste. 


"The glycerin sweetens it up," Ortiz said.  

The story began more than a year ago when she was attending a lecture about all-natural eating by Paul Nison, a raw foodist and author. Ortiz was teaching raw food classes at the time, she said.  

Nison said people should be as concerned about what they put on their skin as they are about the foods they put in their bodies. 

Ortiz said his statement confused her at first because she did not think there were any chemical-free soaps for bathing. 

She said a naturopath in the area who makes all-natural cosmetics taught Ortiz how to make a natural liquid Castile soap.  

Her daughter, Maya, was expecting a baby at the time. Ortiz said the pending birth of her grandson, Jaden, now 10 months old, gave her incentive to find chemical-free products. 

At first, her son-in-law, Chris, did not think much of the Castile soap because it did not have bubbles, she said. So Ortiz found a foaming air pump online that dispenses the soap into foam and creates bubbles.  

"Now he loves it," she said.  

Ortiz said the general public has been led to believe that if soap does not have a lot of bubbles, it is not cleaning things well, but that is not true. Chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate can inexpensively be added to products to make bubbles.

Hagerstown residents Sheldon and Valerie Green buy Ortiz's liquid Castile soap and will continue to buy it, Sheldon Green said.  

"It works great," he said.

Sheldon Green said he uses the soap for bathing and brushing his teeth. He also bought extra bottles to keep at each sink for hand washing and gave some to his son.  

"Whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into the body," he said. 

Thinking again about her grandson, Ortiz searched the Internet for chemical-free soap for clothes washing and found soap nuts from India. 

Only a few companies sell soap nuts in America, she said, but they are readily used in India, China and Nepal for washing clothes, she said. 

The little black nut inside the soap nut, which comes from the Chinese soapberry tree, is discarded during processing because the shell contains the saponin, or soap, Ortiz said. 

Five to seven soap nutshells, which are enclosed in a white cotton wash bag that comes with the nuts, are placed in a washing machine. When warm water makes contact with the shells, it produces sapinon (soap), Ortiz said. 

"It makes very low suds," she said. "A lot of people don't know you can wash clothes without chemicals."

Five to seven soap nutshells will wash five to seven loads. When the shells won't harden after they dry, it's time to use new shells, she said. 

Ortiz uses the soap nutshell water to clean jewelry and as a floor cleaner.

"Just boil the water and drop the bag with five to seven shells in it, and then let it cool," she said. 

By this time next year, Ortiz said she hopes to have a full line of all-natural products that will include body butters, lip balms, milk baths and shampoo.  

"If she makes a natural shampoo, I'll buy it," Sheldon Green said. 

For more information about Ortiz's natural soap products, go to

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