German Soap Box: Halal or Haram
It's not always easy to determine if something is halal or haram. Unless an item has been labeled halal one may not be able to easily discern whether an item is halal just by looking at the ingredient list.
What is Halal? Halal is an arabic term for permissible or lawful in Islam. Haram means just the opposite - it refers to something which is considered unlawful or forbidden for consumption or use.
But German Soap Box makes bath and body products, not food items! True, but if you follow Islamic teachings then the same guidelines also pertain to items used externally such as cosmetics and bath & body. Let's take a closer look:
This category must comply with two rules - the type of animal AND how it is slaughtered. The following are considered haram (forbidden):
- Animals that are not a fresh kill (carrion; not in a pure state)
- All swine/pork and products made from pork
- Any animal killed by means of strangulation, beating, falling from a height, gored, killed by another animal and animals immolated to other deities other than Allah.
- Animal blood
Permissible (halal) animals include:
- All cattle
- All domestic birds and ducks
The above animals must also be slaughter according to Islamic practices to be considered halal. We won't go into full detail but proper halal rules stipulate that the slaughter must be done by another Muslim, he must sever at least 3 jugular arteries and the throat must be slit shortly after invoking the name of Allah. The animal is meant to suffer minimal distress and the slaughter must be done by hand.
Since German Soap Box is vegan and all our fats come from plant sources (coconut, palm, shea, cocoa, etc), this is a non-issue. Many other crafters of handmade soaps use tallow which is typically from beef or mutton. Since the animal was most likely not slaughtered in a halal fashion those soaps would be considered haram.
Alcohol is generally considered haram (forbidden) if it comes from grapes, barley or dates and/or has the ability to intoxicate. This rule applies to products which are ingested or applied topically.
There seem to be some differences in opinion regarding intoxication. Some Islamic scholars believe that if a product contains a small percentage of alcohol but it is NOT consumed with the intent to intoxicate, then consuming a small quantity is permissible (such as medicine; cough syrup, preservatives, etc). Other scholars have proclaimed that "whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is also forbidden."
Bath and body products often have ingredients listed as cetyl/cetearyl and other
alcohols. Fortunately these are not the same type of alcohol served at a bar (ethanol based). They are derived from coconut/palm rather than date/grape and would not intoxicate no matter how much you ingested! In fact, these are fatty emollients and emulsifiers which come in a solid form and are utilized to bind fats and water together.
Alcohols used by German Soap Box are not intoxicating and are coconut/palm based.
Colorants can come from a variety of sources such as:
- Natural earth minerals such as oxides and ultramarines (Halal)
- Synthetic colors listed as FD&C or D&C. These would be considered halal unless pork derived glycerin was used as a solvent. Typical solvents include propylene glycol, dextrose, vegetable oil, sucrose and water which are all considered halal. German Soap Box only uses vegetable based glycerin, vegetable oil or water as solvents.
- Natural spices such as numeric, paprika and beets (Halal)
- Insects such as the cochineal beetle! This small bug in the photo above produces a vibrant red color which is extracted from the body & eggs. This colorant may show up on an ingredient label under names such as carmine, carminic acid, E120, or Natural Red 4. All insects other than locusts are considered haram, therefore, carmine use is forbidden!
German Soap Box is all plant based so we do not use cochineal/carmine red in any of our products.
To determine if glycerin is halal you need to know its source. If it's derived from vegetable source it is halal, if from pork it is haram/forbidden.
All German Soap Box glycerin is of vegetable source.
SaltThere are a number a wonderful salts available today with therapeutic benefits. Salts typically used in bath and body products include:
- Dead Sea salt
- Pink Himalayan Salt
- Dendritic Salt
- Epsom Salt
- Mediterranean Salt
German Soap Box does not currently use Dead Sea salts but anticipates their incorporation into future products.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all possible ingredients or rules regarding halal. We merely tried to address those ingredients most frequently found in bath & body products to help make a more informed consumer choice. We welcome any comments and helpful suggestions that may benefit individuals wishing to abide by Islamic law.
This article is not meant to promote halal products nor question its practice. It is meant for informational purposes only. German Soap Box's ingredient choices are based on being vegan, cruelty free and as always...from the heart.