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Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

Last post 09-15-2008 5:31 PM by willburns1. 9 replies.
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  • 04-10-2008 3:13 PM

    Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    I remember the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap from childhood. Other than having clean floors, the scent of Murphy's is one of the few things I like about scrubbing floors. And I always felt good about using it, knowing I wasn't exposing my family or our pets to dangerous chemicals. When I was done cleaning, I felt okay about dumping the bucket right into the grass. We even decided to switch to Murphy's for cleaning in our newly "green" office...and that's when I got the bad news.

    While I was online looking for green cleaning products, I came across this item from Colgate-Palmolive, identifying potassium hydroxide as one of the ingredients in Murphy's Oil Soap. A little further research and I learned that potassium hydroxide is used for electroplating, debudding calves' horns, dissolving warts, scales, hair and cuticles. It's also used in liquid drain cleaners, and for chemically peeling fruits.

    A quick search on the internet will find you hundreds of green gurus who recommend Murphy Oil Soap in the same category with vinegar, lemon juice and salt. I'm a newbie. I'm not a green guru, and I'm certainly not a chemist, but until someone shows me the carcinogen warnings on a lemon, I'm getting rid of my Murphy's.

    By the way, it's not a soap either; it's a detergent. Who can you trust these days?

  • 04-11-2008 3:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

     What's the difference between soap and detergent? I thought they were the same thing.

    May you live every day of your life.
  • 04-16-2008 1:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    Sorry it's taken so long for my response.

    Soap is made from more natural ingredients; detergent is made from chemical synthetics. Soaps are made from natural oleochemical found in natural fats and oils; detergents are made from petrochemicals. Soaps react badly to the chemicals in hard water and leave scum; detergent doesn't, and so leaves your clothes cleaner and brighter.

    For more information, or a clearer explanation, visit The Diaper Hyena!

     

  • 06-03-2008 5:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    I'd be more worried about the propylene glycol than I would the Potassium Hydroxide (lye) that is a common ingredient used in soapmaking.  Soap is a combination of an oil and a saponifier (usually potassium/sodium hydroxide).  Detergents contain a synthetic surfactant.

  • 06-04-2008 11:01 AM In reply to

    • Romo
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 12-31-2007
    • Florida
    • Posts 98

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    Jltidwell, Can you share more information about propylene glycol? Thanks.

  • 09-14-2008 11:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    Gosh, you are way off, as pointed out earlier. So before you make a general accusation about "not green", you might take up some chemistry. (I studied 4 years plus 5 post graduate and had a career in the industry, so I speak with some credentials.) 1. Potassium Hydroxide is used to saponify oil and make soap--it's in ALL soap. 2. Murph's is a soap 3. The difference between a soap and a detergent is hard to pinpoint. Soap is a form of detergent, but not all detergents are soap. All of them work by having one end of the molecule able to dissolve in fat, and one end dissolve in water. This make oils and grease able to be washed away from surfaces. The other ingredients include propylene glycol, which I presume is there to make the soap liquid thickened, and natural essential oils to make that citrusy-pine scent. Soaps tend to be more easily broken down by bacteria in the water system and thus "more green" than detergents, which persist, as you can see when you see suds in effluent water in sewage systems or other drainage. Murphy's should not be used on URETHANE SEALED floors or urerthaned cabinets. This is because what you are washing is actually the sealed, mirror-like plastic varnish finish, a polymer, and not the wood itself. While I use Murphy's on painted cabinets and our wood furniture that is not urethane sealed--to remove wax build up, I don't ever use it on the hardwood floor, as that is urethane coated. Once in a while, Murph's is great on furniture, followed by a drying rag right away. Removes the dust that clings to sticky areas.
  • 09-15-2008 10:13 AM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    I always used to wonder what makes soap actually clean things. From the very basic understanding I have, its molecular structure is such that it binds to the dirt and bacteria on a surface. It is somewhat like a magnet on a chemical level. It picks it up into the suds and allows it to be easily washed away with the foam. Does that sound about right? I have only a basic understanding of chemistry and I would love to learn more.

  • 09-15-2008 10:40 AM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    gwynedd gal, thanks for your reply. Your credentials are above reproach; my credentials for this forum are limited to my efforts to live a greener life and my career as a writer. Since you've read this entry, I guess it's safe to assume you're interested in the environmental safety of commonly used products, and I hope you'll be a consistent contributer to help make this a reliable resource for others who share this interest...and to better educate me.

    I based my content on the following:

    15. REGULATORY INFORMATION
     
    RCRA (40 CFR 261, Subpart D):   Not Applicable.
     
    CLEAN WATER ACT:                    
    Contains potassium hydroxide which is a Section 311 material.
                                                         
    CLEAN AIR ACT:                          
    Contains ethanol which is a Section 111 material.
     
    SARA:
    Sections 301-304 (Threshold planning quantity – TPQ)
    40 CFR 355:                       
    The TPQ for this product is 10,000 lbs.  
    Acute health hazard:  Irritant
     
    Section 313 (Toxic chemical release reporting)
    40 CFR 372: The following chemicals must be reported under
    SARA 313:                                      Not Applicable.
     
    CERCLA:
    Section 102 (Reportable Quantity – RQ)
    40 CFR 302:                 
    The RQ for this product to the environment is 32,258 lbs. based
    on the presence of potassium hydroxide (3.1%).  Releases 
    greater than or equal to 32,258 lbs. must be reported to The
    National Response Center (NRC) immediately: 800-424-8802.
     
    TSCA Section 8(b) INVENTORY STATUS:
    All ingredients in this product are listed on the TSCA Inventory or
    are not required to be listed on the TSCA Inventory.
     
     
    NEW JERSEY RIGHT TO KNOW HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE
    LIST:
              This product contains the following components 
              subject to reporting requirements:  
              Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    PENNSYLVANIA HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE LIST:
               This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide
     
    MASSACHUSETTS SUBSTANCE LIST:
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    CALIFORNIA SAFE DRINKING WATER AND TOXIC
    ENFORCEMENT ACT (PROPOSITION 65):
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  None
     
    CANADA:
                Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System  
                (WHMIS)-listed material.  
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide

     

     This from this Soap and Detergent Association:

    15. REGULATORY INFORMATION
     
    RCRA (40 CFR 261, Subpart D):   Not Applicable.
     
    CLEAN WATER ACT:                    
    Contains potassium hydroxide which is a Section 311 material.
                                                         
    CLEAN AIR ACT:                          
    Contains ethanol which is a Section 111 material.
     
    SARA:
    Sections 301-304 (Threshold planning quantity – TPQ)
    40 CFR 355:                       
    The TPQ for this product is 10,000 lbs.  
    Acute health hazard:  Irritant
     
    Section 313 (Toxic chemical release reporting)
    40 CFR 372: The following chemicals must be reported under
    SARA 313:                                      Not Applicable.
     
    CERCLA:
    Section 102 (Reportable Quantity – RQ)
    40 CFR 302:                 
    The RQ for this product to the environment is 32,258 lbs. based
    on the presence of potassium hydroxide (3.1%).  Releases 
    greater than or equal to 32,258 lbs. must be reported to The
    National Response Center (NRC) immediately: 800-424-8802.
     
    TSCA Section 8(b) INVENTORY STATUS:
    All ingredients in this product are listed on the TSCA Inventory or
    are not required to be listed on the TSCA Inventory.
     
     
    NEW JERSEY RIGHT TO KNOW HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE
    LIST:
              This product contains the following components 
              subject to reporting requirements:  
              Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    PENNSYLVANIA HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE LIST:
               This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide
     
    MASSACHUSETTS SUBSTANCE LIST:
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    CALIFORNIA SAFE DRINKING WATER AND TOXIC
    ENFORCEMENT ACT (PROPOSITION 65):
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  None
     
    CANADA:
                Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System  
                (WHMIS)-listed material.  
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide
     
    15. REGULATORY INFORMATION
     
    RCRA (40 CFR 261, Subpart D):   Not Applicable.
     
    CLEAN WATER ACT:                    
    Contains potassium hydroxide which is a Section 311 material.
                                                         
    CLEAN AIR ACT:                          
    Contains ethanol which is a Section 111 material.
     
    SARA:
    Sections 301-304 (Threshold planning quantity – TPQ)
    40 CFR 355:                       
    The TPQ for this product is 10,000 lbs.  
    Acute health hazard:  Irritant
     
    Section 313 (Toxic chemical release reporting)
    40 CFR 372: The following chemicals must be reported under
    SARA 313:                                      Not Applicable.
     
    CERCLA:
    Section 102 (Reportable Quantity – RQ)
    40 CFR 302:                 
    The RQ for this product to the environment is 32,258 lbs. based
    on the presence of potassium hydroxide (3.1%).  Releases 
    greater than or equal to 32,258 lbs. must be reported to The
    National Response Center (NRC) immediately: 800-424-8802.
     
    TSCA Section 8(b) INVENTORY STATUS:
    All ingredients in this product are listed on the TSCA Inventory or
    are not required to be listed on the TSCA Inventory.
     
     
    NEW JERSEY RIGHT TO KNOW HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE
    LIST:
              This product contains the following components 
              subject to reporting requirements:  
              Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    PENNSYLVANIA HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE LIST:
               This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide
     
    MASSACHUSETTS SUBSTANCE LIST:
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide, ethanol
     
    CALIFORNIA SAFE DRINKING WATER AND TOXIC
    ENFORCEMENT ACT (PROPOSITION 65):
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  None
     
    CANADA:
                Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System  
                (WHMIS)-listed material.  
                This product contains the following components 
                subject to reporting requirements:  
                Potassium hydroxide

     

    And on this from the Soap and Detergent Association:
    Detergent surfactants were developed in response to a shortage of animal and vegetable fats and oils during World War I and World War II. In addition, a substance that was resistant to hard water was needed to make cleaning more effective. At that time, petroleum was found to be a plentiful source for the manufacture of these surfactants. Today, detergent surfactants are made from a variety of petrochemicals (derived from petroleum) and/or oleochemicals (derived from fats and oils).


     

  • 09-15-2008 5:26 PM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    Yes, soap dissolves one end into the fat (dirt, grease) and the water can mix with the other end and with some agitation, take the dirt away. Detergents work similarly, but they don't form salts in water (hard water and soap make calcium stearate, a grease so tough it can grease ball bearings.) So laundry detergent won't leave a scum on your clothes or on your hair or on your dishes. Many soaps on the market are actually detergents (have non-soap things like sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent.) So they rinse nice and clean but can feel a bit harsh. And then, some detergents are more resistant to being broken down in the environment. We always understood that Castile soap like Dr. Bronners (which used to be made of olive oil but now is containing more hemp oil) would be safer when camping, if you were washing near a stream.
  • 09-15-2008 5:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Murphy Oil Soap not so green after all

    oh I've heard of Dr. Bronners soap. My ex-roommate loves the stuff.  

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