Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does “Chivas” mean?
A: “Chivas” means “female goats” in Spanish. We chose this name because we use goat milk in the majority of our products. Plus, Donna speaks Spanish fluently, used to be a High School Spanish teacher, has traveled to Spain and is generally enthralled with the Spanish culture.
Q: Who is in charge of the goats?
A: Donna is certainly our resident expert on French Alpine goats. She’s been raising farm animals for 30 years, starting with sheep where she started raising her family in New Jersey.
Q: Is a veterinarian involved in the birthing process?
A: Donna takes care of any day-to-day health issues that may arise with the goats, including their weekly natural supplements. If we have a serious problem, then we certainly involve our local vet. The way a goat handles her pregnancy is different for each mother, just like with humans. But Donna handles most of the births herself.
Q. How much milk do your goats produce? Do you still milk your goats before and after they give birth?
A. Depending on the season, our goats produce between 1-2 gallons of milk each day. The goats are hand-milked twice a day. Donna often enjoys this time as a reflective, relaxing part of her day. Our goats aren’t milked during the last few months of their pregnancies and until after about three months after they give birth, when we wean the kids. We miss having fresh milk for our morning coffee and other goodies, but we think it’s important for the kids to have this nourishment from their mothers. This practice goes against industrial farming practices where kids are taken off their mother immediately and fed a powdered milk replacer.
Q: If you’re not milking the goats, then where do you get milk for your soaps?
A: To plan ahead for being without milk for a few months, we store surplus milk in our industrial freezers and use this in our soaps while the goats prepare for their kids.
Q: What does “all-natural soap” mean to us?
A: When you read the label on our soap you should recognize each of the ingredients listed. This is a simple way to illustrate what we mean by “all-natural”. We do not use any synthetic fragrances, artificial colorants or chemical preservatives in our soap. The soaps do not contain any parabens, phthalates or mineral oils. They are scented with pure essential oils (rather than fragrance oils) and colored with herbs, spices and clays only. NOTE: Because we make our soaps in small batches, the colors of our soap may vary.
Q: What does “saponification” mean?
A: Saponification is the scientific term for the chemical process by which soap is made.
Q: What is sodium hydroxide? That doesn’t sound natural!
A: Soap is made with sodium hydroxide, also known as lye. Yes, it is caustic in its natural form. Through saponification, the lye reacts with the oils and continues to neutralize through the curing process (which takes 30 days or more). In other words, after the soap properly saponifies, the lye is no longer present.
Q: What are the differences between Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils?
A: Essential oils are pure plant extracts that not only offer a beautiful scent, but also provide aromatherapeutic benefits. They are considered “all-natural.” Imagine: when you pick off a sprig of fresh lavender and rub it in your hands, it smells like Lavender essential oil because that’s precisely what it is. On the other hand, fragrance oils are man-made, synthetic scents. Some are made to mimic the scent of an essential oil, while others are a more traditional perfume or fruity concoction. Ask yourself: What did actual pomegranates smell like before Bath & Body Works created “Midnight Pomegrante”? Fragrance oils are like a creative interpretation of what takes place in the natural world. But they are NOT “all-natural” and may cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. Because fragrance oils can irritate both your skin and the environment, we have decided to only use essential oils when making our soaps.
Q: I have sensitive skin. Can I use Chivas soap?
A: Yes, our goat milk soap great for sensitive skin! It is very gentle and moisturizing without leaving any oily residue. If you have very sensitive skin (or eczema or psoriasis), we recommend trying our Fragrance Free goat milk soap first. If you have moderately sensitive skin, the Lavender Oatmeal, Peppermint Citrus and Lemon Tea Tree goat milk soaps are also great choices. The only soap we would specifically not recommend is the Orange Spice goat milk soap, which while smelling amazing and working well for most people’s skin, is made with cinnamon and clove essential oils which may irritate sensitive skin.
Q. Is your soap non-comedogenic or designed for acne-prone skin?
There are no regulations on the use of the term "non-comedogenic". But non-comedogenic cleansers are typically oil-free; and none of our products are oil-free. In fact, we believe that it is important to expose your skin to healthy oils so that your body is not stripped of oils and does not feel the need to over-produce oils. Our Clarifying goat milk soap is designed for normal to oily/acneic skin. It uses acne-fighting witch hazel, as well as anti-bacterial essential oils like tea tree, cypress and juniper berry.
Also, goat milk helps to fight acne because it has:
- High content of alpha-hydroxy acids (lactic acid) that break down and remove dead skin cells that can otherwise clog the pores
- Anti-bacterial properties that delay the growth of microbial organisms that can otherwise spur the spread of acne.
We also offer a Clarifying facial toner for normal to oily/acneic skin. It helps to close pores, adjust the skin's pH and remove any remaining cleanser or dirt from the skin. The cooling cucumber hydrosol helps reduce puffiness & inflammation and the tea tree and black willowbark help fight acne with naturally occurring salicylic acid. Note, this toner does not contain goat milk.
Unfortunately, we do not currently carry a Clarifying goat milk facial cream. We recommend that you sign up for our newsletter so that you can be in the loop when we launch new Clarifying products like the cream.
Q: Is your soap meant for body, hands, or face?
A: Chivas soap is designed to be used on your hands, body AND face. 3-in-1: makes life simple!
Q: Does Chivas soap contain glycerin?
A: Yes, glycerin is a natural byproduct of the soap-making process. We retain all of the glycerin produced, which amounts to nearly 25% of each bar of soap. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin. So, then what’s the confusion about glycerin? Why do some soaps not have it, and why are others specifically considered “glycerin soaps”? Since glycerin is a sellable commodity, many commercial soap-makers remove the majority of it from their soap to sell, keeping a trace amount to mention on their own labels. “Glycerin soaps” are generally “melt-and-pour” soaps. They are transparent because a sugar-alcohol compound is added (that tends to dry out the skin).
Q: How long does each bar typically last?
A: This is an impossible question to answer as it depends on many factors. But we can say that the soap lasts longer than most soaps because it is made with goat milk rather than water. Click here to read customer feedback. Also, read below to learn how to best care for your soap to extend its life.
Q: How should I care for my soap?
A: The key factor to maintaining your soap is air ventilation. If you let it sit in a pool of water it will get gooey. To avoid this, simply keep your soap in a dish that has holes or slots and keep it outside the stream of water, where moisture can collect. You can view our wood soap dish here, but certainly any slotted soap dish will do the trick.
Q: Are your soaps gluten-free?
A: The 5 main ingredients in all of our soaps are: goat milk, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil and soybean oil. The latter four are gluten-free. And from my research, it appears that milk is considered gluten free. But to be clear, our goats do a eat a mix of fresh grass, alfalfa and organic goat feed (which contains oats, barley, wheat and corn). We don’t think that the barley & wheat that they eat would end up effecting the milk, but really can’t be certain.
There are also a number of natural additives that we use in our different soap varieties:
• We use wheat germ oil in our Topanga Canyon (sage geranium) goat milk soap, which is NOT gluten free. So I would definitely NOT recommend this soap for those seeking a gluten-free lifestyle.
• We use ground oatmeal in our Lavender Oatmeal and Ojai Valley Retreat (lavender oatmeal) goat milk soaps and in our Clarifying facial soap. But according to the Celia Sprue Assocation (CSA), “conflicting studies exist on whether pure OATS are problematic for those diagnosed with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis.” (http://www.csaceliacs.org/gluten_grains.php).
• We also use hemp seed in Patchouli Cedarwood goat milk soap and Oak Meadows Ranch (rosemary fennel) goat milk soap. From the CSA, we learned that there has been “no research on the dietary use of hemp for a celiac diet is on file in the CSA office. Should be gluten-free but sample of hemp flour tested ELISA 15 ppm gliadin in 2001″ (http://www.csaceliacs.org/gluten_grains.php).
Other ingredients that we double-checked on, and that seem a-okay, are: cornmeal, sesame, shea butter, and soybean.
Please remember that we are not experts on gluten-free diets or lifestyles. You should definitely use your own research, caution and intuition. The good side is that we provide full ingredients list on all our individual product pages so that you will have full-disclosure when making your decision.