Friday, December 6, 2013
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Soap ‘scientist’ creating eco-conscious soap BY SERAINE PAGE
Laura Kneib wants to change the world one bar of soap at a time. Slowly, she’s doing it. Kneib, a Bremerton local, is owner and creator of F.R.O.G. Soap, which stands for From Reclaimed Oil and Glycerin. It’s all part of her plan to be as eco-conscious as possible. Since she started, Kneib’s recycled nearly two tons of waste vegetable oil, cardboard, junk mail and biodiesel glycerin. Every bit of it goes toward her soap production business. “It’s a cleaner alternative. I have to (do it),” said Kneib. “It’s pure. It’s good. It’s clean. No additives.” Creating the perfect soap hasn’t come easy, though. She learned under her mother’s guidance, starting at age twelve. Since then, she’s been tinkering with creating the ideal soap—one that cleanses and sanitizes without drying out the skin. Now, in her late 50s, Kneib has found a way to make a natural soap with reclaimed vegetable oil she gets from restaurants. The idea came to her while she was sitting in a restaurant where she saw a huge bottle of vegetable oil. She wondered what happened
to the oil once it was no longer useable. When she found out that some is carted off for biodiesel, and the rest is dumped in landfills, Kneib could barely stand the thought. When she asked, most restaurant staff were more than willing to give her vegetable oil to tote off. Each year, the U.S. alone generates about three billion gallons of waste cooking oil, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency website. The amount wasted could fill “tanker trucks arranged bumper-tobumper from San Francisco to Washington D.C. and back,” states the website. Although biodiesel can be created from vegetable oil, Kneib is concerned it isn’t enough to keep the unused portions out of landfills. “To me, it’s the soap of the future,” she said. “Using what is here, the possibilities are endless.” Kneib—raised by two crafty parents—was taught to reuse and recycle. She remembers going to the dump with her parents and the location being used as a swap meet at times. “It’s a family thing. Use something again and again,” she said. She recycles in every way she possibly can. Her soap molds are made from recy-
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cled shipping pallets, and the packaging is from cardboard friends and others give her. The ingredients vary and come from a variety of sources—she kayaks on Ostrich Bay to find seaweed to dry out and plucks dandelions from her front yard. And those little pieces of soap that bars get whittled down to? She knits a little baggie that all soap ends go into and uses it as a pre-filled soap sponge. Even though her soap is natural, and people often scrunch their noses at her when they find it is made from recycled vegetable oil, Kneib’s soap is not a product to turn a nose up at. She isn’t sure how many scents she has—she’s always creating new ones—but the most popular is her lavender soap. Other fragrances include peppermint, pumpkin pie, dandelion, grapefruit, lily pad and more. It takes about two hours to make a batch of soap in her home kitchen. Kneib looks to her index card recipes taped up all over her kitchen cabinets. She moves with ease, shuffling around her dog, Katie, who is always nearby wagging her tail. Soap isn’t the only thing she makes. Lip balm, shampoo and, one of her favorites,
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mom who had Alzheimer’s told Kneib that showers were a constant struggle, but told Kneib that her soap made all the difference. The soap made her mother’s skin less dry, and she stopped picking at it, which previously caused lesions. The charcoal in one of the bars also helped neutralize odors that come from taking medication. As a result, Kneib got to work on crafting a new kind of bar. She calls it her “Caregiver’s Shampoo/Body Bar” and notes it is easier for caregivers to use than traditional liquid shampoo. The ingredients include reclaimed veggie oil, palm oil, coconut oil, almost oil, castor oil, rainwater and activated charcoal. It’s why Kneib gets so passionate about sharing why she makes her soap the way she does. She’s even thinking of offering classes in the near future if she can find more on the time.
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“So many of our people come back broken,” she said. “I find this is a good way to help them.” Since she started her business in 2012, she’s gotten quite a bit of feedback. Some love the creaminess of the soap. Others love the scents and tell her how “pretty” it turns out. The best feedback, however, is when she got a letter from a caregiver about her soap. A woman was taking care of her
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Swamp Dog Shampoo, a special soap for pets is also marketed through F.R.O.G. Soap. A $1 from the sale of the dog shampoo—made specially for her beloved cocker spaniel— goes to Swamp Dog Katie’s Service Dogs for Veterans Fund. Once Kneib’s collected an amount she is happy with, she will send a check off to a deserving company that specializes in training dogs for veterans with PTSD.
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Laura Kneib mixes the ingriedents for her F.R.O.G. soap.
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