Neem oil content in bar soap

by Fran
(Canada)

Would neem oil soap, containing 0.1% and 0.75% be a good choice for personal use? I have just read, on Google: "To get maximum strength 20% NEEM Oil content is good, 30-40% is as high as you can go".

I bought a bar of neem oil soap recently in Australia-$6.50-and have now read in the fine print: the following ingredients are restricted to an individual content btween 0.1% and 0.75%: glycerin, salt, preservatives (Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate), Fragrance, Neem Oil, Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Spearmint Oil.
Neem oil is practically negligible, especially when the wrapper states NEEM OIL soap!

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Neem oil soap
by: Birgit

That comment that you said was from Google is actually from my website here.

And as I think you already guessed, the soap you bought there is certainly not a real neem soap. It's a soap that has tiny amounts of different essential oils added, including neem oil.

When people refer to neem soap they usually mean a soap where neem oil was one of the main oils that was used in the making.
(The main ingredient of any soap is some form of fat or oil, which is then saponified. See these neem soap recipes for an example.)

Your soap may still be an excellent soap for personal use, it just won't give you any of the effects that neem soap gives.

Neem soap can be effective in preventing mozzie bites
by: Helen

Thanks for a wonderfully useful webpage.
I have lived in the tropics, including India, where, when you do a mediation course of silent mediation, you become your own lab rat in regards to the local mosquitoes.
20 days of silence, mosquitoes on lime whitewashed walls in a cool mediation retreat gives you plenty of time to observe what works and what doesn't. You can count the mosquitoes and who's itching and who's not quite easily.

It is common for people to use repellants of course, but being there for months at a time, I wound up just using the locally made cheap neem soap that the dobhiwaller washing women and poor people use every day in India.
It was extremely effective in stopping mosquitoes from biting.
As all our clothing was also washed with cakes of neem soap, as you sweated off the neem from a bath or shower, the neem oil in your clothing was replenishing on your skin from your clothes. This also stopped the mozzies from biting through cotton clothing, which was a bonus.
So all round easy solution to reducing local mosquitos and mozzie bites, which has been happening for millions of people for thousands of years.

So for the last 30 years I have used neem soap in the summer. Just now I went outside after doing the dishes. Its summer in Australia. I had showered with neem soap this morning, but doing the dishes with dishwashing liquid it had washed off my hands. Thats where the mozzies landed and bit, which reminds me of how powerful a protection neem is.

One of the big problems with mosquitoes breeding is that many places have stagnant water in ponds, lakes, containers, tree boles, old tires, where people live. Its just about impossible to remove all the potential breeding sites. However, in India, the rivers, lakes, grey water going out into the streets and open sewers in the slums, has neem soap residue in it.

From my observations in India and here at home in Australia, the neem grey water inhibits the development of mosquito larva. The mozzies still lay their eggs in the water, but the larvae don't develop to the next stage.
This is an observable phenomenon you can do with mosquito larvae in a couple of jam jars, one pond water, and just add some neem grey water to the other one, and leave in the shade with mosquito mesh tightly over the jars for a few days. Observe each day whether mozzies have hatched to the surface.
So I use the neem soap run off from the shower into an old bathtub outside to water the plants after 24 hours when the chlorine has evaporated from the tap water. It has the beneficial effect of neem as an insecticide on the plants round the garden. I particularly water the container plants with saucers under them with this grey water, so that there are no mozzies breeding in the pot plant saucers.
We have a big reservoir across the road from us, so there is an unlimited supply of mosquitoes in the summer...

The research paper below from 1999 is in regards to neem's effect on mosquito larva.
Neem oil stops the larva from developing into an adult mosquito at dosages as low as 2 parts per million.
This study is for 3 different species of mosquitos which are widespread and transmit disease.
So even neem soap with very low content of neem oil will provide a noticeable effect.

J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 1999 Jun;15(2):133-52. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10412110
Larvicidal activity of neem oil (Azadirachta indica) formulation against mosquitoes

Results
Median lethal concentration (LC50) of the formulation against Anopheles stephensi, Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes aegypti was found to be 1.6, 1.8 and 1.7 ppm respectively.
...
Further no significant difference in LC50 and LC90 values of the formulation was observed against Ae. aegypti during 18 months storage period at room temperature.
An application of the formulation at the rate of 140 mg a.i./m2 in different breeding sites under natural field conditions provided
98.1% reduction of Anopheles larvae on day 1; thereafter 100% reduction was recorded up to week 1 and more than 80% reduction up to week 3,
while percent reduction against Culex larvae was 95.5% on day 1, and thereafter 80% reduction was achieved up to week 3.
The formulation also showed 95.1% and,99.7% reduction of Aedes larvae on day 1 and day 2 respectively; thereafter 100% larval control was observed up to day 7.

Cheers Helen

Great observations
by: Birgit

Thanks for the time you put into writing that, Helen!
Those are interesting and powerful observations.

I love science (thanks for the study!) but we must not disregard the wisdom that comes from experience and has been handed down over many, many generations.

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