ScentFan's Blog
5 years ago - 10.02.2018
8 9

Soap Homecoming 3 - Discoveries


Did you know soaps were once graded for quality and, in India still are? The decisive measure is called TFM - Total Fatty Matter. It describes the percentage of fat in the soap which equates to how well it cleans and how good it is for skin. Once upon a time, "toilet "soaps were graded as follows:

Grade 1 - min 75%
Grade 2 - min 65%
Grade 3 - min 60%

Grade 1 is a very high quality soap and Grade 2 is very good. Bath soaps have TFM between 40-60%. So when a brand calls itself a bath soap, that is not a good thing.

This is a big subject in India where the meaning of TFM is understood and printed on the soap label. Here in the USA, a soap's TFM is unknown.

I researched and found that Dove, for instance is called a bath soap, not a toilet soap. Therefore its TFM is below 60%. My skin attests to this. I found no way to discover the TFM of other soaps. Yardley's soaps are said to have a TFM of 76%, but it's not on the label and to confuse things, some are called bath bars. However, I found this wonderful-looking Indian site and promptly ordered one of each high TFM bar. They arrived yesterday. Fabulously mucilaginous if vigorously scented bars, herbs and flowers incorporated within.

Also wonderful are most of Arran Aromatics' soaps. I emailed them in Scotland and asked. They confirmed TFMs 75-85%. My favorite is their delicious Olive Oil soap.

In short, I learned the chemical reason why most commercial soaps dry my skin, but the soaps I make at home don't. Apparently high TFM soaps can only be purchased from small or artisinal manufacturers now. Caswell-Massey soaps may have high TFM, especially their Dr. Hunter's Castile Soap, still made in the original way. Not sure.

Soap Calculator

I found this nifty calculator to analyze homemade soap. Not precisely sure how to use it, so I wrote for advice.


I've abandoned imitating great perfumes (except for my version of Homage Attar) and gone in search of materials to duplicate my magic soap of 30+ years ago. It was a wonder and the scent was simple: Jasmine, Lavendar, Sandalwood — but not the synthetic or weak dilutions I've found over and over in what passes for essential oil today. I used a sultana's Jasmine, a sovereign's Lavendar, a maharajah's Sandalwood. Glorious essential oils were once available to the general public at reasonable price. No more. I can't tell you the number of suppliers I've tried, only to be disappointed. Exception. I do have a Jasmine Grandiflorum from The Perfumer's Apprentice to make a grown perfumista weep. In desperation I asked Josh Lobb at Slumberhouse, who saved me. Turns out lavendar from Liberty Natural Products is actually lavendar and so forth. I have a labdanum absolute from White Lotus Aromatics to make you fall to your knees. Problem solved.

So now I'm ready to make my Homage Attar facsimile Castile. I doubled the scent formula given in Soap Homecoming 2. However, one batch has my old lovely rose oil and the other batch has a possibly natural Taif rose oil I had to send off to a foreign country for. It's super gorgeous. Should I blend them? Or risk excessive mildness in the scent after soap's caustic accosts them?

Guess I've mused away enough time for today, but there's a reason for agenda departures.

Our minds
will not flow
as told.
They meander
down ways
of their own
planning to meditate
but first playing music
while swirling
beautiful essential oils
into scent for soap.
Our souls
will not flow
where they're told.

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