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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 1:21 pm 
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The 'Biodegradeable' label prompts people to use the soap in rivers and lakes instead of dumping the soapwater far from shore where it can fertilize greenery. I've seen people using these soaps in the water while thinking they were doing nature a favour. I think 'Biodegradeable' on the label is strictly a marketing ploy with almost no value in the real world .. the harm far outweighs any possible benefit.

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 3:08 pm 
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Good point, Whitewaternot.
I did some research on the 'net a few years back. Every article that I read stated that biodegradable soap did NOT degrade in water and only degraded over time in soil.

So now I only use a luffa sponge on me and sand on my dishes. And that's something you really want to get in the right order.

Cheers Ted

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 4:45 pm 
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http://www.sierradawn.com/products.asp

The makers of Campsuds, which seems to be the most popular, say in the water disposal is a no no. Soil bacteria break down soap.

200 feet away in the woods is where soapy water should go.

I am having trouble finding any non biodegradable soaps on the net..


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 4:48 pm 
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Hi Ted, Are you using anything to cut grease on your dishes? Boiling water perhaps? Without soap are you worried about any bacterial growth?

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 5:43 pm 
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This is a great topic … and I would like to learn more.

Aren't there ways that regular detergents (household soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, etc.) are biodegraded in sewage treatment plants? Is this primarily with chemical additives, aeration, exposure to sun? Detergents work in one of several ways: breaking down surface tension of oil in water (surfactants), brightening to minimize appearance of dirt, inorganic phosphates to change the pH and hardness of water, and then there are green alternatives like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), borax (sodium borate), citric acid (sodium citrate), and botanical extracts. I quickly looked at a few sources to see if I could get an easy answer, but I did not. How does biodegradable camp soap work, and why doesn't it break down in water? I need a little more than simply "don't do it" … I kind of assumed it was simply a courtesy to other campers who may not want to see food remnants, oily film, or foam near popular camping or swimming areas.


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 6:17 pm 
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Antibacterial soaps

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 183044.htm

Not for the squeamish..explorig the possibility that corpses were used for soap making.

http://www.historiography-project.com/m ... zsoap.html

Now my question is do bodies decompose in water if they had the potential to be used in soap? Certainly they do in the ground.

Here is a little more on biodegradability. That broad term actually has specific requirements for each component needing to decompose. How each element goes away is quite different..and do you know exactly what is in your soap?

http://www.greengood.com/terms_to_know/ ... itions.htm


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 7:46 pm 
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Couple of good points here. I'm really strarting to wonder if it's truly a fact that Campsuds-type soaps must be put into soil to decompose. As long as the water is aerobic and not totally devoid of oxygen, vegetable-based soaps must surely decompose along with massive amounts of dead fish and other larger animals that I've seen floating by.

As many people hike and/or camp around small bodies of water, perhaps the "soil rule" is a blanket rule to protect those more smaller and tender environments where people are getting their drinking water in the exact same places and where even small amounts of soap might cause a problem. Streams and miniature lakes above the tree line come to mind.

Surely one droplet of a vegetable-based soap in a large lake can't be that much of an environmental hazard unless large numbers of trippers use massive amounts of soap.

I was thinking of using peeing in the lake as an analogy but thought the better of it.

Cheers Ted

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 7:49 pm 
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Charlies Soap? Dr. Bonners Soap? Both totally veg. based

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 7:57 pm 
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Ted wrote:
Surely one droplet of a vegetable-based soap in a large lake can't be that much of an environmental hazard unless large numbers of trippers use massive amounts of soap.


I've often thought the same thing, but always toss my dishwater in the bushes, just to err on the side of caution...


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2010, 8:44 pm 
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Sorry, almost forgot to answer Harlan's question.
Most of the time, there are no real amounts of grease in my pots as I'm not a fancy cook when summer solo.
If there is, then I boil a very small amount of water for a good clean-out that goes in the bush when finished. Maybe bacteria can't live in my cooking? :wink:

I was given hell by a person that I'd just teamed up with for one trip.
The individual gave me a hard time for using sand just down from the campsite, saying that I was contaminating the water. My answer was: "Isn't this the same body of water that you just washed your crotch and butt with?" We haven't canoed together since.

Ted

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2010, 11:01 am 
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There are a lot of issues here. I only have questions...

SO lets say you were going to rinse your dishes in the lake.. not saying I do cause that would be politically incorrect... but saying i was going to do that.

What soap would be good to use?

How many dishes have to be washed in a lake before the effects are in anyway noticeable or even measurable.. as in a change in the chemistry of the lake?

In lakes that aren't stocked, where people fish, should food waste from dishes be put in to the lake to make up for the nutrients taken out of the ecosystem when people catch and eat fish?

I don't know the answers to any of these things, and the reading I've done suggests no one else does either. It seems to be an area where opinions are formed in the lack of any science based on what people find squeamish.


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PostPosted: October 26th, 2010, 11:15 am 
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viewtopic.php?f=21&t=13880&hilit=food+disposal&start=15

an oldie rears its head again. Anyone changed their thinking?


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PostPosted: October 26th, 2010, 11:59 am 
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My two rubles... biodegradable soaps probably include compounds that don't occur in nature, so their use could add something that wasn't there in the natural situation.

There are bacteria in lakes and there are bacteria in soils that should both work towards soaps being biodegradable. The additives that don't biodegrade into something natural may become bound up with naturally-occuring compounds in soils and lake water and particles that eventually settle out to the lake sediments.

It's known that the compounds that give northern lakes their tea color come from decomposing vegetation in the watershed (which is something like keeping a compost bin submerged in the corner of the swimming pool, a mini-bog) and these help to keep toxic materials in a less active state (eg. mercury binding to carbon compounds).

Probably the most significant thing is soaps no longer include phosphates which can have an effect in reducing lake transparency.

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2010, 7:22 pm 
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Ted wrote:
Couple of good points here. I'm really strarting to wonder if it's truly a fact that Campsuds-type soaps must be put into soil to decompose. As long as the water is aerobic and not totally devoid of oxygen, vegetable-based soaps must surely decompose along with massive amounts of dead fish and other larger animals that I've seen floating by.

As many people hike and/or camp around small bodies of water, perhaps the "soil rule" is a blanket rule to protect those more smaller and tender environments where people are getting their drinking water in the exact same places and where even small amounts of soap might cause a problem. Streams and miniature lakes above the tree line come to mind.

Surely one droplet of a vegetable-based soap in a large lake can't be that much of an environmental hazard unless large numbers of trippers use massive amounts of soap.

I was thinking of using peeing in the lake as an analogy but thought the better of it.

Cheers Ted


They will degrade, but not before they fertilize all green algae and weeds, etc, the breakdown of those greens consuming oxygen and creating dead zones.

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2010, 7:23 pm 
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Ted wrote:
Sorry, almost forgot to answer Harlan's question.
Most of the time, there are no real amounts of grease in my pots as I'm not a fancy cook when summer solo.
If there is, then I boil a very small amount of water for a good clean-out that goes in the bush when finished. Maybe bacteria can't live in my cooking? :wink:

I was given hell by a person that I'd just teamed up with for one trip.
The individual gave me a hard time for using sand just down from the campsite, saying that I was contaminating the water. My answer was: "Isn't this the same body of water that you just washed your crotch and butt with?" We haven't canoed together since.

Ted


Use plain water .. or like someone above said .. sand.

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