In this article, you will find the best alternatives to using green soap to keep tattoos clean and a brief breakdown of each reagent. You will also find out what green soap is made from, where you can purchase it, and whether or not you can DIY a soap mixture at home.
The best substitutes for green soap include hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, sterilized water, and iodine. Look for a reagent with antiseptic properties that is safe to use on human skin. Medical-grade substances are the best option since tattooing involves puncturing the skin.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant used in medical settings and household cleaning. It also works well at removing excess tattoo ink. Being a household item, you can find it at most supermarkets and drugstores.
However, hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be applied directly onto the skin without diluting it first. High concentrations can cause skin irritation and prevent efficient wound healing.
Ensure that your hydrogen peroxide solution is made from at least 97% water and 3% bleach before using it on bare skin. Before application, you can do a patch test for 10 minutes to check for signs of irritation or skin damage.
2. Rubbing Alcohol
Like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol is a common disinfectant. You will need to dilute rubbing alcohol in water before using it as skin prep or wiping, as straight alcohol can be harsh on the skin.
The ratio for a rubbing alcohol solution is approximately one part rubbing alcohol to ten parts distilled water. Experts recommend using rubbing alcohol with a concentration of 70% isopropyl alcohol, as its antibacterial properties are most effective at this percentage. Anything higher than 70% is less friendly on our skin.
To use rubbing alcohol, pour some solution onto a clean piece of gauze or cotton swab. As the alcohol evaporates quickly, you must work fast and reapply the solution several times to be an effective disinfectant.
3. Sterilized Water
Sterilized water is water that contains a sterilizing agent. It is a popular alternative to green soap because of its antibacterial quality, which is something you cannot get from distilled water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates using sterile water with tattoos because any other type of water is ineffective at sterilizing tattoo equipment, inks, and skin. Sterilized water offers the best protection against skin infections and is safer than distilled or reverse-osmosis water.
You can obtain sterilized water from pharmacies in packaged bottles, or you can opt to make your own. A simple recipe includes mixing one part bleach with nine parts water. Some people also combine sterilized water with essential oils or antibacterial soap, which is safe to use as long as it does not irritate the skin.
Iodine is effective at keeping wounds clear of bacteria, but did you know it is also good for removing tattoo ink stains? As a natural disinfectant, iodine can be used to replace antibacterial soap.
Watch out for the color of iodine. Iodine is a reddish-brown liquid — it can stain your skin and interfere with the color of tattoo ink. The residual color left behind may confuse tattoo artists, so beware of this before you use iodine for skin prep.
Watch out for allergies when using this antiseptic. Since iodine is a potent chemical, people using it need to be sure that their skin is not allergic to it before applying it.
What Are the Ingredients of Green Soap?
Green soap is typically made with vegetable oil, glycerin, essential oils, ethyl alcohol, and sodium or potassium hydroxide. Essential oils like lavender oil give the soap hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, is an antibacterial agent.
Due to the ethyl alcohol present in the mixture, green soap is sometimes called a “tincture of green soap.” A tincture refers to an alcoholic extract with a small amount of ethanol.
You will also find various essential oils in green soap, which are used to counter the harshness of ethyl alcohol and soothe irritation. Manufacturers commonly use oils like lavender, coconut, and jojoba oil to produce green soap.
Where to Buy Green Soap?
You can buy green soap at most medical supply stores or tattoo supplies distributors. However, this means that green soap is not readily available at local pharmacies or drugstores. Alternatively, you can search for tattoo soap at online retailers.
If you’re looking to buy green soap online, have a look at this bottle of Cosco Green Soap, available from Amazon. This product is specifically for use with inking and can also be used to sanitize tattoo instruments before sterilizing. It also comes with an 8 oz (227.3 ml) wash bottle for you to dilute the soap solution in.
Can Green Soap Be Made at Home?
As green soap can be hard to find in a physical store, some people may choose to make their own version at home.
Green soap can be made at home using store-bought ingredients. You can make green soap using lye and vegetable oil. When lye and oil are mixed together, they form soap through saponification.
Lye refers to alkalies such as sodium or potassium hydroxide. Using sodium hydroxide will produce bar soaps, while potassium hydroxide produces liquid soap. For vegetable oil, you can use an oil like rapeseed or linseed.
Follow these steps to make green soap at home:
- Prepare the lye solution by slowly adding lye to the water (Note: Do not add water to lye as it is unsafe.)
- Heat the oil until it reaches 120 ℉ to 130 ℉ (49 ℃ to 54 ℃).
- Gradually add the lye solution to the oil.
- Gently stir the mixture until it thickens.
- Lower the temperature and “cook” the mixture until it has a gel-like consistency.
- Cool the mixture and pour it into soap molds.
- Leave the soap mixture to set for 48 hours.
- Once the mixture has hardened, pop the soap out of the molds and cut them into your desired shape.
Remember to wear goggles and gloves when making soap — hot lye releases fumes, and handling hot liquid is dangerous.
For more, don’t miss 11 Effective Substitutes for Soap in the Shower (Or Bath).
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