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Information about preservatives, products & safety

About Wool Wash, Soaps and Lanolin:

I am often asked "how much lanolin is in your wool wash" and I know that the reason I am asked this question is because some other wool wash makers advertise that their products are "50% lanolin!"  or "45% lanolin" and you, as consumers, want the best bang for your bucks.  I have not added these claims to my pages because I know that answering these questions is much more complicated than they appear. 

In soap making, Lye reacts with the oils to create the soap.  When formulating a recipe, you allow for some "superfatting" or extra oils to make sure that all the lye is used up in the process, leaving the soap mild, and leaving some skin soothing oils in the soap.  With most soaps, facial and body soaps, a good recipe would be superfatted 5-10%.  The Lye is not selective however, so it will not selectively leave your preferred oils to "superfat", it will just use itself up, and whatever oil is left, will be left.  So, if your recipe has sunflower, coconut oil and lanolin in it, you may end up with a bar that has some free sunflower, coconut and lanolin in the end....when what you really want is a bar with little extra soaping oils...just enough to make sure the lye is exhausted..and lots of lanolin for your wool.  So, the way to do this is using a different process of soapmaking, called Hot Process.  This process is more work, produces often less smooth bars than Cold Process, but allows you to add your select oils, or lanolin, at the end of the "cook" when the lye is all (or mostly) used up so that you control how much, and what oils remain.  There is not a good history of recipes for wool wash lanolin bars, so all of us lanolin bar makers have formulated our own recipes, through research and trials to come up with a recipe that would work for our customers. 

I use the Hot Process method so that all of the lanolin I put in my bar soap and liquid soap remains available for you to put on your wool.  So, if you are comparing percentages, you need to be aware of how, and when the ingredients were added in order to understand what impact it may have on your wool.  A better judge is to get a small bottle or bar, and see for yourself.

Judging a liquid soap is even more complicated.  The method for making a homemade liquid soap (not from a manufactured base) is similar to making a bar  You use the Hot Process method, but at the end, when you have your hot soap...you add water to it to make it pourable and liquid.  You can look online for liquid soap recipes, and most of them call for adding about 3x the amount of water as you did oil.  Liquid wool wash is mostly...water.  Liquid Lanolin has the consistency of a very thick honey....and most wool washes are thinner than shampoo.  You can see that they cannot be a high percentage of lanolin in the bottle.  It has to be this way for the soap to work, you need more soap than lanolin in order for the soap to wash the wool, and there has to be a considerable amount of water to turn that soap into something liquid, so...liquid soap with lanolin is mostly water.  The original recipe may have had 50% lanolin in it, but was that lanolin broken down in the soapmaking process?  And how much of that remains in the end?  Good liquid lanolin soap is much more than just a percentage of lanolin.  You want good cleaning abilities, a gentle lather, and lanolin that will stick to your wool.

Your liquid lanolin soap may separate after it has sit awhile, the lanolin gets hard or sticky and floats on the soap.  If it does not separate, that means that an emulsifier may have been used to keep the lanolin in suspension with the soap.  This lanolin will wash away with the soap rather than sticking to your wool, which is not what you want.  Alioop liquid wool wash is %100 natural, with nothing but soap and fragrance.

Soapmaking is an art, and a science.  It is much more complicated to make a good soap than it may appear.  I strive to make a high quality product that will speak for itself, simplify your wool washing, and sell it for a fair price.  I believe in being honest with my customers.   All of my lanolin products are about 1/3 lanolin.

And, if you like the simplicity of liquid wool wash, but dont like the idea of paying for all that water....that is why I invented the Wool Wash Wondercubes.  They are an instantly dissolvable soap with 1/3 lanolin in them.  You add the water...and you have your liquid wool wash. 


I use preservatives in my products, when they are needed.  I also encourage you to throw out old products, as all preservatives have a shelf life, and will lose effectiveness over time.   I use a paraben-free, formaldehyde free preservative that is effective, but as gentle as possible.  Here is some information about bacterial contamination of common beauty products to help you understand why I skip the all-natural route in favor of safety.

From: http://www.bmb.leeds.ac.uk/mbiology/ug/ugteach/dental/tutorials/xinfect/explain.html

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Susceptibility testing of meticillin-resistant Staph. aureus
Information on MRSA

Nurse E was a student attached to the Surgical Unit of a District General Hospital. Shortly after she was posted to the Unit, an increased number of patients were found to be suffering from post-operative wound infections. Analysis of the culture reports indicated that most cases were caused by meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Because of the increased incidence of wound infections, and because they were caused by MRSA's, the hospital Infection Control Team initiated an investigation. Sub-typing showed that all of the MRSA's were clonal, that is they all belonged to the same strain, as far as could be determined with the techniques available. Despite initiating a surveillance programme on the Unit, at first no source could be found for the MRSA's .

A monitoring programme to check the efficacy of hand-washing was then initiated. After each time that they washed their hands, staff on the Unit were requested to make fingertip impressions on mannitol salt agar, a medium selective for staphylococci. No MRSAs were isolated for five days, during which MRSA wound infections continued on the Unit. Then, when collecting the impression plates one afternoon, one of the Hospital Infection Control Team observed that after she had made her fingertip impression, Nurse E rubbed her hands with a moisturising cream, she said it was "...because of the roughening of my skin". She suffered from intermittent bouts of eczema, and had just recovered from an episode before starting on the surgical Unit.

The Infection Control Officer asked if she could sample the hand cream, and it yielded a culture of MRSA, indistinguishable from the clone that was isolated from patients on the Unit. Use of the moisturising cream on the Unit was banned, and all the staff were required to wash their hands using alcohol-based chlorhexidine. Monitoring of handwashing with fingertip impression plates continued for a week, but following the introduction of control measures, no further cases of MRSA wound infection were seen on the Unit.

from http://sagescript.blogspot.com/2009/01/why-use-preservative.html

Why Use a Preservative?

With the current high interest in all things natural many formulators do not recognize the importance of using a preservative. Preservatives are a necessary ingredient in all emulsions to prevent the growth of bacteria. Even though bacteria are completely ‘natural’ they can also cause a lot of harm to us. A colleague of mine recently shared her story with me and with her permission I am sharing it here just to let you know how important preventing bacterial growth is.

“It makes no difference if something is all organic or natural if it has cooties in it that you cannot see with the naked eye that can cause more problems to someone’s skin than the preservative you didn't use. I used to make my lotions without preservatives. I was naïve and did not understand that any product that has water has the potential to grow cooties that can harm you.
I had a surgery and at that time I used nothing but my own lotions. I came through my surgery quite fabulously but two days later I was rushed back to the hospital in critical condition. I had a
temperature of over 104 that lingered for four days. Three of those four days I have no memory of. I ended up spending three weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics and then at home with nursing care for another week. My surgical incision had burst open I had to carry a wound vac machine for five weeks. What caused all this? My own lotion was contaminated because I did not use a preservative. Knowing that I was going to be in the hospital, I made a special lotion that I used the day of my surgery and took it with me to the hospital to use. I know that this is a sore subject for a lot of people. This lotion was not old, only 3-4 days old when I used it before going
to the hospital the day of my surgery. Having this lotion tested afterward I found that it was indeed contaminated. The cooties in my busted opened incision were the cooties in my unpreserved
lotion. I have never been the same since then; I do not feel good most of the time and I have never regained the vitality I used to have after having this near death experience.

And many people mistakenly think that Vitamin E, Grapeseed Extract, Tea Tree Oil and other natural products are adequate preservatives.  I wish they were, but they are not.

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