Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question to expand the answer.
How does it work?
Our formula pumps moisture into your skin through a process called osmosis. The water and water-containing compounds are in the lubricating layer left behind during and after washing. Moisture is absorbed by the skin depending on how dry it is. Many hard working hands and surrounding skin can be very dry. By applying a lubricating layer that's very high in natural moisture, we're giving your hands the opportunity to get back to normal. We've seen incredibly dry hands absorb the entire moisture layer within 15 seconds.
On the other hand (so to speak) skin that is already in good condition doesn't absorb much of the moisture at all. It's already 'fine tuned.'
Once your skin is back up to normal moisture content, the rest of the healing is up to your body. Now cell defense, repair, rejuvenation, and even creation can proceed at a normal healthy rate allowing your skin to become as happy as the rest of you.
Why is putting moisture back into our skin so important?Our bodies and our cells are made to work best with a certain amount of moisture inside them. Like an engine needs a certain level of oil, or a plant needs a certain amount of rain and sunlight, our bodies simply work better when our fluid levels are 'topped off.'
Our skin suffers because we work hard, and because we clean it with chemically aggressive abrasive soaps. This depletes their natural oils causing your skin to become dry.
Once your skin has the proper amount of moisture, your cells can begin to resist and fight off damage, repair themselves faster once they are damaged. Your cells can even rejuvenate themselves (almost like coming out of hibernation after being dehydrated), and of course, go back to creating new skin cells deep into in your dermal layers.
What do you mean by claiming that this soap is “Skin Healing?”We mean that we keep your skin hydrated, which is more than most soaps and cleansers. They tend to strip the skin of necessary oils and moisture, which starves the cells of important fluids and protective coatings. Our soap helps restore the balance allowing your body to heal itself. We don't claim to have any magic or unproven powers. We do work better and more naturally than most commercial soaps. And you don't have to take our word for it. Listen to the words of some of our current customers. Better yet, try it for yourself. We're from the old school. If you don't like it, we'll give you your money back. That's our guarantee.
What do we mean by "hypoallergenic?"All of our soaps are as natural and as gentle as vegetable oils and lavender nectar can be. But there are some people who find the slightest amount of certain essential oils to be irritating. So our recipe that has absolutely no essential oils added to it is called 'hypoallergenic' because it is the least possibly irritating product in our line. Does this mean that it won't irritate anyone? Not necessarily, but we haven't found them yet! Does it mean that our other products that DO contain essential oils will be irritating? Again, absolutely not. We have yet to meet anyone that finds our products annoying, let alone irritating. So please, feel free to use any of our products with confidence. If you're the type that can't stand added fragrance, then hypoallergenic is for you. We just don't call it unscented because some sensitive noses can still detect a scent. And as always, if there are any questions or problems, don't hesitate to give us a call.
What is dermatitis?These hands have an extreme case of dermatitis. There are many possible causes for such conditions, and medicine is still working to understand them. Eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis are serious problems, and there are no easy answers. Uncle Earl's does not claim to be able to cure or heal conditions such as these in any way. We do claim that the first step in keeping hands healthy is to keep them clean and hydrated, assisting your body in its ability to heal itself.
How does our soap protect your skin?Uncle Earl's contains compounds that are absorbed into the skin. This helps your skin reclaim its own natural defenses. Your body naturally does the rest.
Are UE soaps anti-bacterial?Absolutely yes. Even better, we are also anti-viral. Don't take my word for it, check out this great video from the folks at Vox. It's the very nature of soap, real natural soap, to dig deep into your skin and remove both bacteria and viruses. And here's the kicker - it's not only our soap, but all real soap. And we are helping strengthen your skin at the same time. That's the part that is unique to UE. And that's the part that modern "soap" doesn't do very well.
Why is there no grit in Uncle Earl's Soap?Soap that contains abrasives generally tears at the surface of the skin. This encourages irritation and can encourage skin problems, such as dermatitis.
How can this soap clean so well considering there is no grit in it?Uncle Earl's is formulated with powerful and natural cleaning agents which chemically help wash away dirt, grease, and grime.
We prefer liquid soap. Does your liquid soap also have these benefits?Each form of our soap carries the same benefits, but they will appear differently. The bar is extremely long lasting, but not as easy to apply. The liquid is very concentrated and will penetrate your skin more quickly. The foam is commonly used as a lotion by some, and as a waterless cleaner by others. (Sorry, but the foam products are now produced only on special occasions.)
How is the foam used as a waterless cleaner?Many apply several pumps of the foam and “wash” their hands as if they were under a stream of water. The dirt will lift off, and there's enough water left over so that they only need to use a towel to “dry” their hands off. As of 2020 the foam products are only available at selective times of the year, so stay tuned.
Are UE soaps really made with all natural ingredients?Yes, absolutely. We are proud to acknowledge the simplicity and goodness of old fashioned common sense, along with a healthy dose of some modern technology. This allows us to use all-natural ingredients. Even though this costs a bit more for handling and production, we think the quality of our final product is better for it. We leave it to you to be the judge.
Is your soap also organic?Not quite. We're doing our best to ensure that all our ingredients meet high standards of being natural first, organic second, and Demeter Biodynamic third. As we are growing rapidly, it becomes harder to make sure all our ingredients meet these standards, especially those that are imported into the US. As a result, we can stand by the statement that our products are 100% natural. They don't contain preservatives, biocides, enhancers, artificial fragrances or colors. How those ingredients were made is not yet something we can assure ourselves about carrying the label "organic." Trust us, we're working hard to make sure they will be 100% organically derived as soon as possible.
Why does your soap have a unique smell?There are people who think that cilantro tastes like soap. It has something to do with genetics. Similarly, there are people who detect an oily odor in our products. Some describe it as like french fry oil, and others compare it to motor oil. There's not much we can do about it. In any case, we're proud of that smell, because it's the scent of a naturally made product. Like many other products of nature, fresh dirt, a wet dog, or a recent thunderstorm, our soaps are made with nothing but natural ingredients. What they smell is nature, and that's what makes our product unique, strong, and special.
Do the terms natural and organic mean the same thing?No. Although use of the terms is not legally regulated, they have come to distinguish between materials that are not man-made (natural), and materials that are not man-made but were also not exposed to synthetic chemicals, like fertilizers. So it's possible to buy a natural product that does not contain any synthetic fragrances or coloring. But for the product to be labeled organic the manufacturer must also ensure that those fragrances or colors were not produced using dangerous chemicals or practices along the way.
Here at Uncle Earl's, everything we produce is destined to carry the organic label. But we're even more ambitious than this; read about what it means to be a Demeter® manufacturer, next.
What is the Demeter® association?Demeter® USA is the only certification agent for Biodynamic® farms, processors and products in the United States. As a non-profit organization, Demeter’s mission is to improve the health of the planet and its people by providing certification of products whose ingredients are grown and processed according to the highest agricultural and environmental standards. From farm to market, only those companies that consistently meet these standards are permitted to display the Demeter certification mark.
Uncle Earl's does not yet have Demeter certification, but wants to earn this certification.
What else is Uncle Earl's good for?Without any encouragement on our part, our customers have been using our soap in some ingenious ways! For instance, we've learned that it removes grass and mud stains from clothing. It appears to remove bathtub rings, at least in Vermont. See our Testimonials page for any new abilities that aren't mentioned here.
We'll eventually have links here to various blog posts and other pages and maybe even videos that detail all the great ways people have used our product.
Is UE based upon a real person?There is a real Earl. He's a good friend and mentor, the kind of person who makes our world a better place. He'd give you the shirt off his back without asking for anything in return. We're honored that he's letting us use his name to make the world a slightly cleaner and healthier place. Learn more about him here on his own About Earl page.
Why don't you let someone else make your soap?WARNING: This is something I'm passionate about!
We are asked this question by almost everyone who visits. They get the impression that we're working too hard, that it would be easier if we let someone else do the work. It's hard to argue with them during a plant visit, especially because (almost) all of our competitors subcontract all of their products to specialized vendors.
What we've learned over the years as an industrial machine builder is this; it's very hard to control quality when you let someone else do all the work. More importantly, it's easy to forget why we work so hard and what's important in our products when we let someone else do all the learning.
It's true, we could send all our work over to China and teach them how to make our product. Then we would buy it back from them at a tenth the cost. But it defeats the whole spirit and meaning of the Demeter principle for one thing, and it also defeats the whole concept of what we're trying to do. We want to keep jobs here, locally. We want to support local farms, and local businesses. we don't want to make China (or Russia, or India, or Brazil) stronger just because we can make a few more dollars. We want strong neighbors, and we want ingredients that we know are made right. We want to know that we're not polluting the environment, and that when we SAY our products are 100% natural, we can prove it. We don't have to send a team to Shanghai to find out.
Finally, and frankly, we don't want to let someone else do our work. Uncle Earl would never shirk from hard work, and we won't either. Yes, we won't be as rich, we won't get million dollar bonuses, and we won't be able to sell out to a faceless multinational for a billion dollars. But we will be able to sleep at night, rub elbows with our friends who have read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and when we go outside to camp or fish, we'll know that we're helping to leave something to our children.
So, you see now why when someone asks us, “Why don't you let someone else do all your work?” our usual polite response is, “Good idea. Maybe someday.” And we get back to work.
Do you supply a safety data sheet (SDS).We have had an MSDS (now it's an SDS) for some time because we have been selling to factories since early 2009. If we know that we're shipping to a facility we'll include a paper copy automatically. If you would like to download a pdf version for your files, please click on this link (coming soon). As always, if you have any other questions you can always contact us through this site.
What is the microbiome? Why does it matter?The microbiome is a new word describing all the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in and on our body. The more we learn about invisible life, the more we understand that we work together to survive and thrive. Some of them can make us sick, especially when they gang up on us; that's why we get colds or need antibiotics. But the great majority of small life help us live our own lives, turning our food into vitamins, and even helping fight off the bad germs. In terms of sheer numbers, we have more bacteria and viruses living on and in our body than we have cells!
Uncle Earl's respects the biome by not trying to kill them, like so many other products. That's why we don't use biocides like triclosan, and why you'll never find antibiotics of any kind in our products. We believe that the best way to stay healthy is to keep our entire body healthy - both you, and your microbiome.
To learn more about the biome, please visit a good wiki page.