It turns out that the methods used to make soap have gotten more efficient at using up all the base products. You really need sodium hydroxide (lye) and a fat, usually vegetable, but can be animal. You combine and cook it until a chemical reaction called saponification completes, and you have soap. Modern soap is going to have a lot more than just that in it (like color, scent, surfactants, etc.), but that’s the basics.

Back in the day, however, soap was shipped with free lye still floating in it. This is why you’ve always been told not to use soap on cast iron. It’s also going to make your hands very dry. New soap doesn’t have free lye floating around so it’s not so hard on your hands and you CAN actually use it on cast iron, believe it or not.


When Palmolive made that claim, it was comparing its product to past cleaning agents. I was curious about what people used to use, so I looked it up. Seems that abrasives (sand, plant material, ashes) were common, and soap. Like, OG soap, made by combining oils with a chemical base.

Interestingly, the ingredients to Dawn dish detergent do not include soap. It contains surfactants (chemicals which break surface tension and in effect make water “wetter”), and detergents. Detergents emulsify oil in water. Water molecules are polar, they have a positive charge at one end, and negative at the other. Fats and oils are non-polar, which is why they don’t mix with water. Detergents are molecules with a polar component attached to a non-polar component. They attach to and surround non-polar molecules, and make them polar/hydrophilic/able to dissolve in water.

Dish detergent will still remove oils from your skin, but at least it’s a lot better than abrasives and corrosive chemicals.

HubertManne avatar

The sorcery of the bullshitassner


I’m guessing both terms are vague enough, that companies can legally just lie.

It’s only a “liable untruth” if someone can prove it’s not true in court.


Dishsoap isn’t exactly soft on hands. It dries them out because it removes the oil on your skin. My wife’s fingers get dry and crack, so we use the “natural”/“organic” variants that are more gentle.


Its funny cuz I always buy the Baby Stuff/sensitivr skin but I never have issues with dry skin. I think I have naturally “well-lubricated” skin lol

_haha_oh_wow_, avatar

Can you tell us more about the variants that you use?


No particular brand, but you can find them in specialty stores (i.e. Natural Grocers). If your local grocery has an “organic” isle, there’s a chance they have dishsoap there too. They usually have stuff on their labels like “No parabens, sulfates, fragrances, etc.”

Riven, avatar

I just use gloves to wash dishes. I don’t like getting my hands ‘dirty’ with food and oil stuff, even if I am gonna be washing them once I’m done.


What brand is this? Not the ones I’ve used. They strip the oil right out of my hands. Have to use dish gloves.


Saponification. It also reacts to oil secreted by your skin as well, but your hands aren’t oil. The target chemicals are triglycerides (I think).

Not a chemist, but this reminded me of grade 9 chemistry equations. And I was pretty bad at it.

Bishma, avatar

I don’t know about you, but my hands aren’t made of grease.

But to answer your question (in terms of D&D 5e subclasses) I think dish soap would be the work of the Clockwork Soul Sorcerers.

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