The Soap Making History dates and stretches far back!
The origin of cleanliness dates back to prehistoric times.
The earliest people then know that water has cleansing properties. They didn’t know just yet about soap.
The early Greeks bathed for aesthetic reasons, and apparently, not with soap. They cleaned their bodies with blocks of clay, sand, pumice and ashes.
Clothes were washed without soap in streams.
The ancient Egyptians also bathed regularly. They combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline to form a soap-like material used for treating skin diseases.
It was not until the 2200 B.C. that the earliest record of soap recipe was found.
The recipe called for water, alkali and cassia oil and was written on a Babylonian clay tablet.
By the 900s, soap making was now common in Spain and Italy and by the 1200s in France.
Unfortunately, because it was difficult and costly to make, its usage was not widespread until the 18th and 19th century.
It was also at around this time that the chemical nature of soap and how it works was discovered.
In the early twentieth century, soap was typically made at home, using pig lard, or cow tallow, that was leftover from butchering or cooking meat.
To determine if the lye was fit for use, the soap maker would float an egg or potato in the lye; if the object floated with a portion the size of a modern-day quarter above the surface of the lye, then the lye was good.
If it was too strong, water was added to dilute it; too weak, and it was boiled down to the correct strength.
However, during World War I, animal fat, like many other resources, was in short supply, because most available resources had to go to the troops.
While searching for an alternative material, it was discovered that a variety of vegetable and plant-based oils were useful for the soap-making process.
Not only were the vegetable oils useful during the shortage, but it was found that the vegetable oils were actually superior to animal fat for making soap.
The soap produced was of a finer quality, and the vegetable oils were more readily absorbed by the skin than animal fat.
Also, animal fat can clog pores, and aggravate certain skin conditions.
Currently, only a small percentage of the industry uses age-old methods for making soap.
Standard grocery store soap recipes are comprised of approximately 80% tallow (animal fat) and 20% coconut oil, with added chemical sudsing agents.
There was a time when a bar of soap was considered a luxury and was even exchanged among world leaders as a gift of great favor and goodwill!
Today, there are already a variety of soaps that blend the skills of Old World tradition with modern day chemistry, accuracy and knowledge of superior ingredients.
Take the next step
Make sure you download our FREE comprehensive beginners guide, ‘How To Make Soap At Home’, by clicking here.
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