Fels Naptha is a solid bar laundry soap. Lazarus Fels started the company in 1861. In 1893, naphtha was added to the original soap. Naptha is a petroleum derivative also called Stoddard Solvent. With the addition of naphtha, the soap soon became a household name as a remarkable laundry soap. It is also known for preventing poison ivy and healing rashes. It is a common ingredient in homemade laundry detergent.
Fels Naptha Background
Making laundry detergent with Fels Naptha soap is economical and effective. The laundry detergent recipes using Fels Naptha have been used for generations, with many reported stories of success. The Dial company, which makes Fels Naptha soap, suggests using it as an effective stain remover for oil based stains.
Fels Naptha Ingredients
Fels Naphtha contains an ingredient called Stoddard Solvent. This is also sometimes known as white spirits. It is a type of solvent known as a naphtha. Napthas are a byproduct of the petroleum industry. Only a small amount of the napthas are used as solvents. The addition of Stoddard Solvent to Fels Naptha makes it an effective laundry soap, but there are health concerns with Stoddard Solvent. According the the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Stoddard Solvent has not been proven to cause cancer, but there have been studies showing that inhaling it can cause seizures and dizziness. There are not enough studies about its effect on skin. According to the Material Data Safety Sheet for Fels Naptha, there is some evidence that repeated use may cause dermatitis because of the defatting action of the soap. The overall health rating on the MSDS is a 1. This means there are slight health issues related to Fels Naptha. It is safe to use as a laundry soap, but may be too harsh as a skin soap.
Laundry Recipes Using Fels Naptha
There are several recipes for laundry detergent using Fels Naptha. They are either powdered or liquid. The powdered recipe is quite simple. You simply grate the Fels Naptha, and combine with washing soda and borax. Use 2 parts Fels Naptha to 1 part washing soda and 1 part borax. Washing soda is sodium carbonate, and is made by Arm and Hammer. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and is not as strong as sodium carbonate.
Liquid detergents require you to grate the Fels Naptha and add to water. You then heat the soap, add washing soda and borax and allow to thicken. The proportions are similar to the powdered recipe. One recipe calls for 4 ½ gallons of water, one bar of Fels Naptha, 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax. You heat the grated Fels Naptha in a saucepan covered with water. Then, in a 5-gallon bucket, add 4 ½ gallons hot water, the melted soap, the washing soda and then the borax. Stir to combine. It will thicken as it cools.