Allergies are a big deal in our family. Among the various members of my family, there are those with allergies or sensitivities to dairy, citrus, nuts, chocolate and gluten.
Of the above mentioned, the first four items are fairly easy to avoid, but the last, gluten, is not. In addition to a niece, I also have a close friend with celiac disease, so I have been especially careful to learn about products and ingredients that contain gluten.
One thing that is important to know – anything labeled ‘Gluten Free’ can still contain up to 3% of trace gluten. Also, most pharmaceuticals are prepared with gluten as a binder; capsules and gel caps are gluten based. Caramel coloring nearly always contains gluten. Beware also of personal care products that contain gluten: shampoo, conditioner, hair color, lotions … These items frequently contain gluten and are absorbed through the skin.
I am very cautious when formulating soaps (and eventually lotions, conditioners and shampoo) to ensure that they are 100% gluten free. I do not plan to make any milk based soaps, and with the exception of coconut oil, I do not use nut oils, nor do I use wheat germ oils or any other gluten based grain oils. I understand that rice bran oils originating from outside the US have been known to contain gluten. The rice bran oil I use is produced in the Untied States and is gluten free.
I realize this limits my products, as many people are fond of goat’s milk soap and several of the oils I have chosen to exclude in my standard recipes, but feel that to best serve the widest range of people it is a good choice. Knowing that my soap is free of certain allergens and vegan (I also have a vegetarian sister) makes them easier to gift.
With regard to the citrus and cocoa: Citrus oils will be scenting a fair number of my soaps, as they are too popular to ignore, and cocoa butter will be a staple in my recipes, because some luxuries need to be indulged.