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History Of Soap

History of Soap

Soaps are basically products that we use on a daily basis to clean or cleanse. It is made from natural ingredients which include both plant and animal products for example, vegetable oil and animal fats etc. soaps are also salts of fatty acids. No one really knows the origin of soaps or when exactly it was discovered.

Origins of Soap

Soaps are basically products that we use on a daily basis to clean or cleanse. It is made from natural ingredients which include both plant and animal products for example, vegetable oil and animal fats etc. soaps are also salts of fatty acids. No one really knows the origin of soaps or when exactly it was discovered. The name soap was derived from the word saipo which was used to call soaps that the Celts made from animal fat and plant ashes. Also, according to another roman legend, soap was named after Mount Sapo, an ancient site of animal sacrifices. After the animals were sacrificed, the rains would wash down the animal fat and ash from the site down to a river, the banks of river Tiber. The women who went to the river to wash clothes noticed that when they washed their clothes in some parts of the river, their clothes were much cleaner.

The central issue with determining the origins of soap is that, unlike with other forms of chemical technologies such as glass or ceramics, there are no significant examples of soap that survive intact to modern-day.

The first recorded use of soap was in  Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq and Syria) 7th century ( ~2700 years ago), a tablet found in the Hittite in Asia Minor discusses the use of soda for cleansing the body;

With water I bathed myself. With soda I cleansed myself. With soda from a shiny basin I purified myself. With pure oil from the basin I beautified myself. With the dress of heavenly kingship I clothed myself.

The Mesopotamians used soap mainly for medical purposes, but also for cleansing, the Egyptians did not identify soap as such, but  they were familiar with it, through the combination of alkali and animal fat. The Greco-Roman world was familiar with soap and soapmaking, using it for medical, textile, and beautification purposes, but not for personal hygiene. Pliny describes a soap of tallow and wood ashes used by Germanic tribes to brighten their hair.During the second century, soap was manufactured scientifically. Caustic soda  is manufactured by heating lime from lime stone or seashell with sodium carbonate made by evaporating alkaline water.

in 1787 British scientist Nichholson Lebanse and Michael Eugne Cheverat were the first to speed up the soap making process and successfully completed the experiment of making soap mixing fat and sodium hydroxide. These discoveries were responsible for the commercial production of caustic soda and its use for the manufacture of soap. Aleppo Soap produced in Syria and was the first soap introduced to Europe by Christian crusaders and traders.

Ancient Soap Production.

History of soap Nonetheless, some people were bathing with soap even during the Middle Ages. For example, the Crusaders developed a taste for soap and brought the recipe to make Aleppo soap from olive oil back to Europe from the Middle East; as a result, soap making flourished in Spain during the 11th and 12th centuries, where Spanish Muslims made Castile soap

Mesopotamia temple

 

The production of soaps dated back in the 2800bc in ancient Babylon, with the Babylonians being the first to learn and master the art and science behind soap making. Their soaps were made from fats boiled with ashes or water, alkali and cassia oils. In ancient Egypt, soap was made by combining animal and vegetable oil with alkaline salts to create a soap like substance as indicated by the Ebers Papyrus.

The production of soaps dated back in the 2800bc in ancient Babylon, with the Babylonians being the first to learn and master the art and science behind soap making. Their soaps were made from fats boiled with ashes or water, alkali and cassia oils. In ancient Egypt, soap was made by combining animal and vegetable oil with alkaline salts to create a soap like substance as indicated by the Ebers Papyrus.

The Phoenicians used goat tallow and wood ashes to create soap in 600bc according to the Pliny the elder, while the in the first century AD, soap was widely known in the roman empire as the ancient romans made soap from urine. In ancient Israel, ashes from various plants such as barilla plants were used in soap making known as potash. Potash is a concentration of burnt wood and vegetables ashes mixed with lard or olive oil as alkaline.

History of soap The rise in soap use also coincided with the development of mass marketing. One of the early giants in the commercial manufacture of soap,

 

 

 

Soap Making in Europe

In Europe, the medieval Spain was a leading soap producer by the 800. Soap making began in England in the 1200. Soap was produced from animal fat and had a very strong unpleasant smell hence they started importing soap from the middle east. Finer soaps made from vegetable oils were later produced in Europe. Soap making was considered a small-scale thing and the soaps produced ended up being rough and harsh to the skin. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ⅰ, the use of soap in England was much greater than any other European country. It is said that the queen set the trend herself by taking a bath every four weeks whether necessary or not.

 

History of soap. The Castile region of Spain birthed a new style of soap after the popular Aleppo, which was made from mixing laurel oil (bay leaf) with olive oil and soda. This is where Castile got its inspiration.

Birth place of Castile soap

It was not until the industrial revolution that the soap making process was upgraded. During the restoration era, soap started getting taxed in England. This meant that soap started becoming a luxury and it was only used by the well-known families in the kingdom of England. Small scale workers could not make soap because of a law that was passed which stated that soap boilers must manufacture a min quantity of one imperial ton at each boiling. This process alone was beyond the reach of the average person.

In ancient china, a traditional detergent was produced by mixing pig pancreas and plant ash. Another way was to make soap by using the seeds of Gleditsia sinensis. True soap was not available in china until the modern era.

In the Islamic middle east area, during the Islamic golden age, soap making became an established industry with a pleasant-smelling hard toilet soap being produced. On the other hand, in the middle east, soap making was done by mixing fatty oils and/or fats with alkalis. In Syria, soap was made using olive oil, an alkali and lime.

While Aleppo soap required laurel oil, resulting in a green soap, this oil was in short supply. The city of Castile, however, had an abundance of olive oil that created a pure white soap. Whiteness was seen as purity, making this soap very popular among Spanish royalty. Among all the early European soaps, castile soap distinguished itself by its superior quality and more effective cleaning than others. Over the course of the centuries, Castile soap was used all over Europe.

Aleppo syria

Bathing came into fashion in the 18th century when the French chemist Nicolas Leblanc discovered a process that could transform salt into soda ash, which is an alkali critically needed in soap making. This discovery became important especially in the 19th century, when Louis Pasteur proclaimed the importance of good personal hygiene as a means to fight against diseases, hence increasing the demand for soap. During this time the soap making industry grew so fast in the united states.

During world war Ⅰ, commercial soap came into existence. There was increased demand for cleaning agents as the injuries became higher. However, during this time, the ingredients to make soap grew scarce so the German scientists came up with various synthetic compounds hence detergents were born.

Soap making process.

The most popular method to make soap is the cold process method, that is even used today. In the ancient times, the hot process method was preferred.

Hot process method.

Take all the soap making ingredients and put them in a pot then place on a heat source. Stir the mixture frequently until the soap making process goes through the different stages while still heating. The excess water will eventually evaporate leaving the soap in the pot. Take it out of the heat source and let it cool fully so that you can be able to package. Hot process soap can be used right away because the saponification method happens quickly due to the heat. The temperature required for this process is 80℃-100℃, until saponification occurs. Today the temperatures of the soap are checked using modern thermometers but in the ancient times, temperature was checked by the eye or by tasting.

Castile soap is made from 100% plant oils, whereas other soaps are made with animal fats and therefore are not vegan. Although original castile was made with 100% olive oil, in modern times other oils like hemp, coconut and essential oils have been included in the recipe. A versatile soap with unlimited uses, castile can easily replace dish soap, laundry detergent, household cleaner, pet shampoo, and shaving cream to name a few.

hand made soap

Cold process method.

In order to make soap that is mild and skin friendly using this process, it requires the exact amount of lye and fat and then the saponification process will begin. Before using the cold process method, the saponification value of the fats had to be searched to determine the right amount of lye to be used in the process. If one exceeds the amount of lye to be used, the soap made will be of a high pH and this will make it unsuitable for use because it will irritate or burn the skin. If little lye is used, the soap will become greasy.

The right temperature is also required for saponification. The lye and fat are mixed together then kept warm to ensure that the saponification process takes place to its completion. This process takes approximately 6weeks to complete. The end-product, after this process, is a hard, long lasting product of good quality. The soap can turn out incredibly moisturizing or mild depending on the oils used.

The difference between the cold process method and hot process method is that in the hot process method, the quantity of lye does not need to be as exact as in the cold process method. This is actually a benefit of the hot process method. Another difference is that soap made using the hot process method can be used immediately after the process of soap making while soap made using the cold process needs to be cured for at least 6weeks.

Saponification process means the process in which the lye forms with the oils to become soap.

By Eila Oketch.

Sources

Wikipedia

www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com

www.soaphistory.net

 

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