The History of Soap Making

The Babylonians first began making soap around 2800 BC from a mixture of animal fat and ashes, but they didn t use it to clean their bodies. Primitive forms of soap were too harsh to use on the skin, so Babylonians generally used soap for cleaning textiles like wool and cotton. The ancient Greeks used soap made from lye and ashes to wash their pots and statues, but found it to be too harsh to use on the skin, as well.

Around the first century AD and shortly thereafter, the Romans and the Celts simultaneously discovered the benefits of soap for the skin. More gentle versions of soap made from olive oil and similar ingredients were put into use. The Romans began building bathhouses and both bathing and soap became part of daily life. Egyptians also employed bathing and cleansing the skin, but their cleansing agents were made from ingredients like milk, honey and sand.

During the dark ages, approximately 500 AD to 1000 AD, bathing was seen as a frivolous and obscene act, and soap fell out of general use in Europe. Queen Elizabeth, who only bathed every three months, was thought to be very sophisticated and highbrow. This lack of bodily hygiene was on of the contributors to the rampant plagues that spread throughout Europe during this time. On the other side of the world, Asians continued to use soap on their bodies and to practice regular bathing.

During the 19th century, Louis Pasteur confirmed that personal hygiene was an important component to health and wellness, and the demand for soap sharply increased. Higher end soaps containing more gentle ingredients than the traditional ash and lye began being manufactured and soap s popularity continued to spread. Once the world began to see the benefits that good soap held for the skin and overall health, everyone was sold, and it s still a part of our daily routine today.

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