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Does 100% non-chemical soap exist? No – Lye is always used

I wish there was such a thing as a completely natural soap made only from coconut oil, olive oil, essential oils etc. But this is unfortunately impossible. There is absolutely no way to make a bar soap without using lye.

The basic reaction that is needed to make soap, called ‘saponification’, cannot occur without some form of lye reacting with some form of oil. Lye is actually a general term for a very strong alkali. There are two alkali’s that can be used to make soap: sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and potassium hydroxide. Both are considered lye, but the potassium hydroxide is not strong enough to make a solid soap. It is only used for making liquid soaps.


Thailand Vs. Latin America

Having now spent more than six months travelling in Latin America, from Guatemala in Central America down to Peru, and having lived in Thailand for three years prior to this trip, I think I’m fairly well placed to write a quick comparison of the pros and cons of each destination. So here goes! They’re going […]


Bag slash robbery on Quito – Cuenca bus

I arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador a few days ago, having taken a bus from Quito. The journey was meant to take about 10 hours, but I arrived in Cuenca exhausted, 13 hours later. The first bus broke down after 2-3 hours, and we ended up sitting beside the road for about an hour and a […]


Popayán, Colombia

Popayán is the capital of the Cauca region of Colombia. The Spanish founded it in 1536, and the early settlers used it as a kind of retreat from their hot & sticky sugar cane farms in the Cauca Valley. As Popayán lies at 1,760 metres, the climate is significantly more bearable than low-lying areas at […]


Quito, Ecuador

Quito was a remarkable city. The second highest capital city in South America, after La Paz in Bolivia, it quite literally takes your breath away. I discovered this the hard way, leaning against a wall and seeing stars whilst running around town for an hour trying to find us a guest house before dark! At […]



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