06-15-2017, 12:18 PM
#1
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I recently read somewhere that glycerin-based shaving soaps and creams aren't necessarily always vegetable based but could also be animal derived as well. Is there any truth to this? I always thought glycerin was just strictly plant derived only.

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 06-15-2017, 12:37 PM
#2
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Glycerine (aka glycerol) is a simple polyol compound generally obtained from plant and animal sources where it occurs as triglycerides, which are treated with an alcohol such as ethanol with catalytic base to give ethyl esters of fatty acids and glycerine.
Glycerine can also be be produced by various routes from propylene (ie.: fully synthetic) but this is usually not cost-effective.

Or in other words, glycerine from animal and vegetable sources are indistinguishable for the consumer, and it pretty much boils down to what source is cheap at the moment for most manufacturers.

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 06-15-2017, 01:15 PM
#3
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That is correct. Glycerin can be derived from animal or vegetable fat. It is a byproduct of saponification (soapmaking). There's other ways to make it, but generally that's where it comes from. The continuous process soap-maker siphons it off because it's sticky and gums up the works. Then they usually resell it because it's worth more that way. Tons and tons of soap is produced this way per day. Which means tons of glycerin.

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 06-17-2017, 05:54 PM
#4
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(06-15-2017, 12:18 PM)punchy Wrote: I recently read somewhere that glycerin-based shaving soaps and creams aren't necessarily always vegetable based but could also be animal derived as well. Is there any truth to this? I always thought glycerin was just strictly plant derived only.

A more important point is that there really isn't any such thing as "glycerin-based shaving soap."  When people say "glycerin soaps" they are usually (but not always) referring to shaving soaps that derive from a melt-and-pour base.  Some soap makers buy M&P soap base in quantity, then add scents and other things to make their soaps.  These soaps should not be referred to as "glycerin soaps," but as "melt-and-pour" soaps.  

A second use of the term "glycerin soap" is to refer to clear soaps that are often sold as bath soap.  Some shaving soaps have a similar appearance (for example, soaps sold by The Soap Opera and others).  These soaps, too, are generally melt-and-pour soaps with additives/scents, etc.  

M&P soap base can be bought in bulk online.  A common supplier is brambleberry.   

Finally, some people have used the term "glycerin soap" to refer to shaving soaps that do not contain tallow.  These soaps, too, should not be called "glycerin soaps," but rather "non-tallow soaps," or "vegetable soaps."  All melt-and-pour soaps are non-tallow soaps, but not all non-tallow soaps are melt-and-pour soaps.  For example, soaps from companies like LA Shaving Soap or Dr. Jon's are non-tallow soaps that are made by artisans using a hot process method.  These are far different from melt-and-pour soaps, which contain detergents/foaming agents.  

Glycerin is a by-product of soap making (also called saponification).  Reacting fatty acids with a lye or potash (or a combination of the two) produces soap and glycerin.  It's a chemical equation.  You can't make soap without also making glycerin.  Period.  Some soap makers also add extra glycerin to their soaps, to aid as a humectant and perhaps to supply a bit more slickness.  In that case, glycerin will be listed as a separate ingredient on the ingredients list.  HOWEVER, even if a soap does not have glycerin listed as a separate ingredient, it has glycerin in it unless the glycerin has been removed for other purposes (as is often done in commercial bath soaps).  

One final thought.  Once a fatty acid has been fully saponified (in other words, reacted with lye or potash to turn it into soap), the glycerin that is produced naturally in that chemical process is the same exact chemical, regardless of whether the initial fat was coconut oil, stearic acid, or beef tallow.  Glycerin produced naturally from the saponification of tallow and glycerin produced from saponification of coconut oil is indistinguishable, chemically identical; the exact same thing.  Thus, there is no such thing as "tallow glycerin" or "animal glycerin."

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 06-17-2017, 07:52 PM
#5
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Seeing as a large ingredient is glycerin, and as previously stated glycerin can come from an animal base unless otherwise stated, you cannot say with certainty that any particular M&P base is vegan unless it makes that claim.

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