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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that wasn't answered elsewhere on our website? Scroll down to see some of the most common questions we get asked about our soaps, our store and everyting else you can imagine.

Soap FAQs

Are your soaps Vegetarian and/or Vegan?

All of our soaps are vegetarian. Almost all of our soaps are vegan. The only ingredient we use that is not vegan is manuka honey. At present, we use honey in two of our naturals range soaps – both of which are clearly labelled (front and back) to indicate that they include manuka honey.

One common question we receive from vegans is around the use of cochineal (an insect-based dye common in oranges and reds). None of our colours contain cochineal or any other animal product. We also do not use any milk-based products in our soap – the base recipe for all of our soaps is an olive oil and coconut oil blend.

 

What sort of ingredients do you use?

The base recipe for our soap is very simple. We believe that the more additives you include in soap, the greater the chance that the end user will be allergic or suffer some sort of reaction to the product. Keeping our soap recipe simple is our way of creating something that is gentle on skin – even for those who are particularly sensitive.

The four ingredients in our base recipe are Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Spring Water and Lye. Our naturals range of soaps uses other additives – all of which are pure and uncorrupted. For example, our turmeric soap contains pure turmeric, our coffee soap contains pure coffee, any additional oils are all 100% pure essential oils. Our art series soaps are slightly little less natural. They include the use of fragrance oils and a series of colours including micas and oxides.

If there is any doubt, please ask us or read the ingredients label on the back of our soaps.

 

What is ‘lye’ and why do you use it?

‘Lye’ is also known as ‘Sodium Hydroxide’ or ‘Caustic Soda’. It is a compound that is usually obtained through the leeching of wood ashes. Some people are concerned about the use of lye in soap because they have seen it used in other products (such as cleaning solutions) and believe that it must be an ‘artificial chemical’ or just ‘bad’. This is not true!

In its raw form, lye can be dangerous as it is highly alkaline. It is the reason that we wear gloves, masks, aprons and protective goggles while we make our soap. The simple truth is that ALL SOAP IS MADE WITH LYE. If you have ever used soap in your life (and we really hope that you have) then you have used a product made with lye. It is a necessary component in triggering the chemical reaction known as saponification that converts fats into soap. The end product (i.e. a bar of soap) does not contain lye because the chemical reaction that has taken place has changed the chemical structure of the ingredients and the resulting product is mild and completely safe. All soap – ranging from handmade natural/organic soaps through to mass produced bars on your supermarket shelves have been made with lye.

If you have seen a reference to ‘lye free soap’, this usually refers to melt and pour soap varieties used for home soap making. In this case, the lye based chemical reaction (saponification) has already been completed by the manufacturer before it is sent to you. The soap was still originally made with lye. You know what they say in soap making – “no lye is a lie”.

 

What is ‘curing’ and why do you do that with your soaps?

‘Curing’ is really just a fancy word for ‘drying out’. Olive oil, one of our main ingredients, is a very soft oil. It will solidify into a solid bar of soap within about 24-48 hours of being made, however, this solid bar is still quite soft. If you take it into the shower right away then it will probably go mushy and will last you about 1-2 washes before it fully dissolves. That is not ideal.

We cure all of our soaps for a minimum of four weeks – that means we put them on a shelf where the air can flow around them and most of the water in the soap can evaporate. This hardens the bar, preventing it from turning to mush and guarantees it will last much, much longer that 1-2 washes.

To prolong the life of your bar at home, make sure to leave it somewhere that it can fully dry between uses. If you leave it sitting in a pool of water then don’t be surprised if it does turn to mush (see our question on glycerine to understand this) and all of our work curing it for you goes to waste. Cue the tears… or you can just leave it to dry out again. 

 

What’s the deal with ‘glycerine’?

Glycerine (sometimes spelt ‘glycerin’) is a by-product of the soap making process. Fortunately, it’s good for the skin and has moisturising properties which make it a great inclusion in soap. You might think of it as the magical ingredient that helps our soaps to leave your skin feeling soooo good. In fact, glycerine is sooooo good that some manufactures actually extract it from soap specifically to use into other cosmetics.

One small downside to glycerine is that it absorbs water. For this reason, if you leave your soap sitting in a pool of water for hours on end it may turn a bit mushy. This is why we recommend that you allow your soap to dry between uses. In case you forget and it does get a bit mushy, then simply put it somewhere to dry out and it will still be fine to use. Problem solved!

Some manufacturers do actually remove the glycerine from their soap to make it more durable in water (why??? It is the magic ingredient). The result is a soap that can really dry out your skin – which is why the same manufacturers will often add moisturiser to the soap. We find that to be a little bit ridiculous – removing something that moisturises your skin, and then replacing it with something that moisturises your skin. Just use a soap rack!

Shop FAQs

These questions are about our store overall. For FAQs specifically about our online store, head to our online store page here

 

What products do you sell?

In addition to our extensive soaps and soap accessories, we have hundreds of other locally made products for sale from more than a dozen local businesses. Over time we add new businesses and products, or lose products when suppliers close down. For this reason, we can’t list it all here. Many but not all our products are available in our online store.

At the exact moment that this FAQ answer was written, we stocked candles, crochet toys, bags, clutches, jewellery, spices, teas, scrunchies, jams, chutneys, oils, vinegars, sauces, honey, wax wraps, cutlery kits, chocolates, nougat, diffusers, marshmallows, baby clothes and so much more. That list may no longer be completely accurate but it should give you an idea about the style and scale of our store.

 

Is everything you sell locally made?

Yes.

We are a local providore which means that we only stock products that are locally made by local businesses. We typically define ‘local’ as being within the Central Coast, however, one or two suppliers come from just across the border in the lower areas of the neighbouring Hunter region.

Some of our local business partners are large and have a factory located on the Central Coast, while others are small home-based businesses that mostly sell online and at markets. This means that by making a purchase with us, you are helping to support local business while also getting something that you are unlikely to find almost anywhere else.

This does not mean that we sell anything we can find. We check all the products we sell for quality before making the decision to sell them. We also curate our collection to make sure that we can offer a good mix of products. Typically, we limit each product type to one or two local suppliers.  For example, the Central Coast has many high-quality candle making businesses, but we currently only work with two candle suppliers to prevent our store from becoming overstocked with candles. We certainly encourage you to support these other businesses as well if you come across their products – we wish that we could work with everybody.

All of our soaps are also made on site (definitely local). The minor exception to our policy of stocking local goods is a couple of our soap accessories (loofahs, etc). We have been unable to find a local manufacturer of these items, however, they are sourced from within Australia along with all of our soap ingredients. Many customers like to purchase these items with their soap, and as a minor additional accessory we made the decision to sell them in store.

Each of our local suppliers also has a small information panel next to their products in our store. It provides you with some background information on each business and the story of the amazing locals behind it. It also tells you how far the businesses operations are located from our store. The closest supplier is located just 1km from our shop.

 

This all sounds very expensive. Am I right?

We don’t think so. We do everything we can to keep our prices reasonable and fair. In most cases, we try to sell products for the same prices that our suppliers sell them online or at markets. Some of our products are made by hand which may lead to a slightly higher price but also leads to a higher quality product. We regularly receive comments from customers about how reasonable our prices are. If you come in and disagree then that is also perfectly fine – there is no obligation or pressure to make a purchase. We do our best to create a relaxed shopping experience and never try to upsell you on something you don’t need or want.

Why wasn't my question on this FAQ page?

We are sorry to hear that. Please email your question to info@centralcoastcommons.com.au and we will get back to you as soon as we can.