A Bubbly Journey Through time :The fascinating history of soap making...

OilyEscapades Admin

Did you know that before soap many people used plain ol' water, with sand and mud as occasional exfoliants? Depending on financial status and where you lived, you may have had access to different scented waters or oils that would be applied to your body and then wiped off to remove dirt and to cover body odors. 

In today's modern world, soap is a staple of daily hygiene, but have you ever wondered how this essential product came into existence? The history of soap making is a captivating journey that spans thousands of years and takes us through different civilizations and innovations. In this blog, we'll dive into the intriguing history of soap making, from its ancient origins to the sophisticated soap making methods of today. 

The earliest evidence of soap making dates back to ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Ancient Babylonians understood soap making as early as 2800 BC. Archeologists have found soap like material in historical clay cylinders from this time period. These cylinders were inscribed with what we understand us saying, "fats boiled with ashes" ( a method of making soap).

Egyptians used soap for medicinal use. Ancient Egyptians combined animal fats and plant oils with alkaline salts to create a substance used for threatening sores and skin ailments as well as washing. 

Syria's "green gold" is said to be the oldest soap in the world. The hand made soap gets its name from the city of Aleppo, located in Northwestern Syria, where it is manufactured in ancient underground tracts.

The primary ingredient used in early soaps was tallow they had saved from butchering and grease from the cooking of fat. Wood ashes were reserved to make Potash, the alkali. 

The Roman contribution....

Ever wonder how soap got its name? Legend has it that the ancient Romans named the soap from Mount Sapo, where the animals were sacrificed. Rain washed a mixture of melted animal fats and wood ashes down into the Tiber River below, resulting in a clay mixture found to make cleaning easier. Romans used soap to clean clothing and fabrics rather than toiletry use. 

After the fall of Rome in 467AD, bathing habits declined in much of Europe leading to unsanitary conditions in the Middle Ages. The uncleanliness of that time contributed heavily to illnesses and plagues.

Commercial soap making began in 1600 in the American colonies. Soap making was considered a household chore rather than a profession. 

In the 17th century cleanliness and bathing came back into fashion in much of Europe, particularly in wealthier areas. Soap was taxed, heavily, as a luxury item in several countries. When the tax was finally removed, soaps became more accessible to people and cleanliness standards across societies improved. 

In 1791, french chemist, Nicholas Leblanc, patented a process for making soda ash from common salt. This discovery made soap making one of Americas fastest growing industries by 1850, along with advancements and developments of power to operate factories. 

During WWI and WWII, there was a shortage of vegetable and animal oils and fats that were used in soap making. Chemists had to use other raw materials instead, which were "synthesized" into chemicals with similar properties. These are now known as "detergents".

Modern Soap Making...

Synthetic detergents began mainly as substitutes for fat based soaps, but developed into a sophisticated product superior in many respects to soap. Soap forms soap scum in hard water, synthetic detergents do not. After WWII, industrial detergents came onto the scene midcentury ( made using petroleum and its by products), and America was swept up in the "better living through chemistry" promise of convenience, lower prices, and shiny advertising of the detergent industry. 

Early synthetic detergents were pulled from production when they were revealed to be carcinogenic, hormone disruptive, and downright horrible for human health and the health of the planet, only to be quickly replaced by the new chemical panacea in a cycle of big promises and disappointing health and environmental consequences. 

If the bar of soap you use for bathing does not claim to be a "soap" on its label, it is probably a synthetic detergent product. The myriad of chemicals they contain, the way they are manufactured and the ingredients used prohibit them to be called true soap and use the word "soap" on their packaging. 

Artisanal & Natural Soaps...

The turn of the 21st century has witnessed a resurgence of interest in traditional soap making methods, often with modern twists. One of the most dominant trends currently is the growing demand for organic and natural soaps. Consumers have become more health conscious and aware of the potential irritants and harmful chemicals in many mass-produced soaps. There is a significant shift towards products with natural ingredients. 

Soap's role in hygiene and public health..

Washing your hands often and properly with soap and water can help prevent the spread of germs. Soaps are essential for keeping our skin clean and fresh. They remove sweat, dirt, and oils, reducing the risk of skin problems and unpleasant odors. Additionally, some soaps contain moisturizing agents, essential oils, or exfoliants to nourish and rejuvenate the skin. 

Why is soap one of the most important inventions? As one of man kinds greatest inventions, soap has had more of an impact than you might realize. Soap helps prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases, helping people live longer  and making the world a cleaner place to be. The history of soap is a fascinating one, dating back thousands of years...

The history of soap making is a testament to human innovation and the pursuit of cleanliness. From its humble beginnings in ancient civilizations to its modern incarnations, soap has been an indispensable part of our lives. This blog journeyed through time, uncovering fascinating evolution of soap making techniques and its enduring significance in maintaining health and hygiene. So the next time you use your favorite soap, remember the centuries of history that have contributed to that simple act of washing your hands!

Until next time, leave your troubles in the bubbles!

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