Culture

The Origins of Soap in Health and Beauty

May 03, 2014

Soap plays a critical role in daily lives and contributes overwhelmingly to our shared culture of health and beauty. It is used to cleanse and nourish the body; its perfumes relax the mind. Baths are a welcome respite, a sensuous moment of the day, one that infuses mind and body with well-being. Though we take soap for granted today, have you ever wondered where it came from?

The first recorded evidence of soap making is found in Babylon in the form of clay cylinders, dating from 2800 BC. Inscriptions on the cylinders are the earliest known written soap recipe and they describe a process by which fats could be combined with wood ash and water to create a substance capable of cleaning. The product thus produced was not necessarily used to wash the body; it’s assumed to have been used in the cleaning of textile fibers, such as wool and cotton, in preparation for weaving into cloth.

The Ebers papyrus, found in Egypt around 1550 BC, refers to medicinal use of soap. These texts suggest that ancient Egyptians combined both animal and plant oils with alkaline salts to create a substance used for threatening sores and skin aliments, as well as washing.

The Gauls and the Romans produce both hard and soft soap products by combining goat’s tallow and the ashes of beech trees. A soap factory complete with finished bars was discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, one of the cities destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. While the Romans are well known for their public baths, generally soap was not used for personal hygiene and bathing. The importance of soap for personal washing was only recognized during the later centuries of the Roman era.

The Arabs, meanwhile, specialized in the production of soaps from vegetable oil and olive oil. They were also skilled in creating soaps with aromatic oils, such as that of thyme. Arabian soap was often perfumed and coloured, some liquid and others hard. Sodium Lye NaOH formula was used for the first time and, when compared to current soaps sold in the market, hasn’t must changed.

We carry on the tradition of scented soaps by using handpicked flowers and blossoms from the Orient, plus a select range of fourteen pure aromatherapeutic fragrances. From revitalizing tea tree and purifying mastic to spiritual cedar and moisturizing olive, we build on history to create soaps that are gentle and luxurious.

[Source: soaphistory.net]