ON THE SOAPBOX:  What Happens If You Eat Soap?
Soaplicity Blog

ON THE SOAPBOX: What Happens If You Eat Soap?

So I have a few childhood memories that aren't as rosy as others. One particular time when I was about 4 or 5, I was sitting all by myself in the backseat of my mom's 1970 gold American Motors Rambler, blissfully lost in some thought or another as my mom drove home from a trip downtown. As we pulled into the driveway and she turned off the engine, I decided it was the perfect time to utter a new word that I had heard from a friend. It seemed to echo in the dead silence. 

Now, I was a smart 4-5 year old, and realized almost instantly that "the word" had a powerful effect upon my mother. She rose straight up in her seat, turned around (it looked like what an owl can do with its head) and said to me in a semi-hysterical voice, "What did you say?!"  Like I said, I was smart at that tender age, and I said, "uh, 'stupid'?"  Well, my mom was smarter. She got out of the car, opened my door, pulled me out and walked me purposefully on my tippi-toes all the way to the house, all the while telling me how "that is an awful, horrible word," and "we don't use words like that in this house!"  It was just seconds later that I learned that soap bars aren't just for cleaning our bodies, but they can clean dirty mouths, too (no reference to Orbitz Gum intended here).

If you have ever had the pleasure of having your mouth washed out with soap, it is not an experience you will soon forget.  I don't think I said another swear word again until I was a freshman in college and confident that my mother couldn't catch me anymore.  But what happens if you SWALLOW the soap?  This is a question we often get.  I am not sure why except the question usually follows the comment, "Your soap looks and smells like I could eat it!" 

The good news is that most soaps are non-toxic. Even though all soap (except African Black Soap) is made with lye (it is the necessary binding ingredient that holds the water and oils together), when it goes through the saponification process and cures, the lye is neutralized no longer making it caustic. This being said, you still may not like the results of what happens if you swallow soap - throwing up, upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.

For instance, a couple of years ago we attended a farmers' market during the kick-off of Witch Fest. The amount of people wandering around was staggering. A customer came up and was asking me questions about our Oasis Products for Severely Dry Skin, which caused me to turn my back on the other table where the women's soaps were located. My husband had stepped away from the booth (I suspect he was down sampling cheese from the Heber Valley Cheese booth) so I was by myself and could not see the customer's 5-year-old son stepping up to the Honey Almond Oatmeal Soap Bar.  It wasn't until his mother's eyes got to the size of an owl's (I might have been doing a flash-back here) that I turned to see her son with a shocked and pale expression on his face. He had picked up the soap bar thinking it was food, took a small bite out of its corner, swallowed it, and quickly put it back. The effects were immediate. He didn't even get two steps away from the table, when the impish smile faded from his lips and a realization that something was wrong came across his face. He threw up directly in front of our table, splashing his soapy lunch all over the bottom of our brand new display tablecloth.

I wasn't upset. In fact, I was trying hard not to laugh. I felt awful for the wonderful mother who respectfully sought out help to clean up the mess in front of our booth, but I couldn't help but think back to my own childhood experience and link it to the lesson this boy just learned. Just because it looks like food, or smells like food, doesn't necessarily mean it's food...

In short, swallowing soap will cause an immediate response much like swallowing ipecac. You will most likely throw up or spend some quality time on the toilet.  As for me, if I am going to be spending that much time in the bathroom, I would rather it be in the shower, lathering up with a good bar of soap!

11 thoughts on “ON THE SOAPBOX: What Happens If You Eat Soap?

  1. avatar Roshan E Richards says:

    According to the DSM-5 criteria, pica is the diagnosis given to someone who regularly and persistently eats non-food substances such as chalk, soap, or paper for more than one month. If you are doing this, please contact a doctor. They can help.

  2. avatar Cavelle says:

    I eat soap constantly because i have a craving for it. I eat numerous of bar soap e.g Irish Spring, Lux, Ivory, Jergen etc. I am not proud of what i am doing but i cant seem to help myself. I really want to stop because i know it must be causing some damage to my body i can see and feel changes especially in my skin, hair and nail.

  3. avatar Van says:

    I started eating soap at the age of 8 to 10 Yh am sure and am addicted to it I can’t stop it am 20 now

  4. avatar Priyanshu says:

    Don’t eat any soaps

  5. avatar alissia verdin says:

    i ate soap yesterday when i was at school and not i came home and i don’t feel good and i have to go to school today and be in so much pain to go to school


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