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Families at the Sumner School in Roslindale are cleaning up with unusual fundraising effort

Sumner Soap

Instead of bake sales, families at the Sumner School on Basile Street are making and selling "biodegradable, Borax-free, aromatherapeutic laundry soap handmade from all natural ingredients."

Lauren Cooperstein Corduck, whose daughter Esther is a first grader at the school, got the idea while folding her laundry - laundry she'd cleaned with the homemade soap she'd made herself:

I started making household products (countertop cleaner, toothpaste and laundry soap) in an effort to save money and "green" my family's lifestyle and, in the process, discovered a recipe online for this wonderful laundry soap. I'm the fundraising committee chair for the Sumner Elementary School and had an "a-ha" moment while folding my clean, fresh-smelling (rather than chemical-smelling) laundry a few months ago.

Together with Rebekah Pierson, whose daughter Chloe, is in kindergarten at the school, along with some other parents and kids, they mix the ingredients and pack them into reusable glass jars to raise funds for specialized document cameras, which let teachers project the images on a wall.

But, she adds, students involved in the project are also learning valuable business skills:

Esther added the word "super" to the name of the product, which I was originally calling Sumner Soap. As another example, she knows how to use the Square to process credit card transactions and how to use it to record cash and check transactions. I'm hoping to work with some of the Sumner teachers to develop some lesson plans related to [the soap] that would use the initiative to teach the students business skills and social entrepreneurship.

Birch Street House and Garden, 760 South St. in Roslindale Square is selling the soap; you can also pick up a jar at the Saturday farmers' market in Adams Park.

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Comments

Soap and detergent are different things. Sort of. Soap is technically classed as a specific type of detergent, but what we buy as "detergent" is more diverse. This gal and her family are making laundry soap, and labeling it as such.

I'll keep looking for a good explanation of the differences that doesn't contain extra woo power ...

UPDATE: Reference without woo power or marketing rah rah located. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/550751/soap-and-detergent

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I had no clue. Fixed.

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Phew, glad we cleared that up

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Correction

"Phew, glad we cleaned that up"

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Is there an issue with Borax? I have been under the belief that its toxicity is in the same ballpark as table salt, and I've slopped it all over the place as a wood preservative. Bad idea?

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Some people may be sensitive to it, but I actually add it to stinky bike clothes laundry, and taught stinky teenage male (is that redundant) offspring to do the same for their laundry.

I'm extremely sensitive to additives - borax isn't one of them.

http://www.laundrygoddess.com/wash-clothes/the-power-of-borax/

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There was a bit of a fuss a few years back caused by folks who fear anything with a chemical name. Borax can be an eye irritant. Who is washing their eyes with borax? And, frankly, vinegar is an eye irritant but no one is having fits about vinegar because it is "natural." Borax is toxic if ingested in high quantities. I don't know who is eating the stuff but I would argue that's a good way to clean out the gene pool.

Dihydrogen monoxide, now there's a chemical to be wary of!

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it's like the fear of alum in pickles, or in deodorants. Generally unfounded, but still fiercely believed in. (Shrug.)

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In doing research on various homemade laundry soap recipes, I found enough information online to suggest that Borax is "controversial" in its safety. Also, Borax can irritate the eyes and is be harmful if ingested. For these reasons, I decided Borax shouldn't be used in a recipe that Sumner students are helping to make.

The fact that Sumner Super Soap is effective yet borax-free may be considered a competitive advantage. We'll have to teach the kids what that means!

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Safety in context. Children handling it in bulk quantities could result in mishaps, and it is an irritant, so it makes sense to avoid it.

I personally would add it separately anyway, like I do with using Dr. Bronner's soap in the laundry.

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I wish more kids at more schools got involved in things like this.

I read somewhere recently that it's rare for schools in Japan to have janitors -- that cleaning the place is part of what students are expected to do. There's a set of lessons in that that are worth a lot.

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Isn't naphtha soap irritating to the eyes and harmful if ingested? Sounds way more likely that kids would get that in their eyes if they were grating it,

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There's no naphtha soap in Sumner Super Soap. The link I posted previously in error was not the recipe we use. Please follow this link to see the lists of ingredients in Sumner Super Soap:

http://www.sumnersupersoap.org/product.html

Sumner students are involved in various aspects of the Sumner Super Soap venture, but they don't grate the bars of soap.

Thank you for your interest in Sumner Super Soap!

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Borax is a lot easier to get in the air and ingest/breathe than grated soap bars. I put mine in a tub so I could scoop it instead of pouring it from the box. Even then I have to remember to close my mouth when I scoop (sometimes there's a puff of borax).

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This is a lot better than all the other crap kids get cajoled into selling, like candles, wrapping paper, etc. It would be great if they sold good beer.

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I don't mind the wrapping paper, actually.

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Huh. That's actually not a bad idea--low cost of ingredients (assuming equipment was borrowed from parents), high margin, and all sorts of interesting chemistry and biology questions that could be asked and answered by kids making it. Is it legal for underage folk to be involved in all the stages until primary fermentation finishes? Parents could handle the bottling. Students aren't handling alcohol if they're boiling wort and measuring specific gravity...

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We ALL put the yeast in!

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it might be good for hand washables. (If so - sign me on for the fund raiser! I currently use hair shampoo for that.) Don't know how well it'd work towards gumming up the works in the High Efficiency wash machines.

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I have been using Sumner Super Soap in my front-loading high-efficiency (HE) washing machine with no problems for several months. Here's some writing on the topic of why it seems to be perfectly fine to use Sumner Super Soap, a laundry soap that does not suds, in your HE machine:

http://solarhomestead.com/he-homemade-laundry-detergent/

A friend of mine has been using Sumner Super Soap to hand wash her delicate clothing and was just raving about how it works for that purpose.

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The link I shared in my last post didn't answer the HE washing machine question. Here's a better response:

One of the first questions we get is, “Are you sure Sumner Super Soap is safe to use in high efficiency (HE) washing machines?” We have scoured the Internet looking for anyone who has had a problem using homemade, powdered laundry soap in an HE washing machine and have yet to find someone who has. We have been using Sumner Super Soap in our HE washing machines for months with no problems.

Our understanding is that HE washing machines are considered efficient because they use less water than traditional washing machines. Because HE machines use less water to rinse the clothing, they require a low/no-sudsing soap/detergent. Sumner Super Soap doesn't really suds at all. I believe that's because the Dr. Bronner's bar soap, an ingredient in Sumner Super Soap, doesn't really suds.

Hope this explanation is helpful!

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So there aren't any enzymes to digest food and diet stains? And it costs 50% more than the average laundry detergent? And it won't work in hard water?

Sounds like a niche product for upper-class Bostonians who never actually get dirty.

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How DARE this fundraising item created by students to raise money for their elementary school price itself higher than Tide! I won't rest until we teach these kids about the race to the bottom, by devaluing their work and letting the gears of capitalism grind them down.

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I'm beginning to think that the cookies Girl Scouts sell don't actually cost them $5 to make.

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Anyone charging you $5 is not a GS but a rip off artist. Each council sets their own price. Here in GSEM it's $4 per box. Other council may set $3.50. You can bet the baker gets the same amount either way.

Now if I can just move the last couple of cases our troop has left over...

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Most modern laundry detergents are overkill for the purposes of cleaning clothes, and people tend to use far too much of them in front loading machines as it is.

All my great-grandmother ever used was laundry soap, borax, and washing soda in a machine that lacked special cycles for particular issues. But, hey, a farm family never gets sweaty or dirty, ever.

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If the 'niche' soap offends you so much, then don't support the kids' fundraising efforts by buying it! ...Roslindale consists of upper-class Bostonians who never actually get dirty? Whatever, anon (not verified) on Wed, 05/27/2015 - 7:09am

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I'd buy this just for the picture of Sumner on the label!

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Not recommended for use with Confederate Battle Flags (they come out white).

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Actually, I'd but it with that on the label, too.

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