The History of Sapoon-Soap

The History of Sapoon-Soap

The History of Sapoon-Soap 27 34 rhecht

Soap making history goes back around 5000 years. The first recorded archeological evidence of the manufacture of soap-like materials is dated to around 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon. Babylonians had discovered the basic method of making soap, using Cassia oil (the tree that cinnamon is extracted from) boiled with ashes and water. Soap was used mostly in the textile industry but also, in sores and skin diseases treatment and beautification.

Description of a fabrication process of a product similar to soap has been found in papyrus from the ancient Egyptians (~1500 BC) that mentions how animal and vegetable oils were mixed with alkaline salts. That soap was used for treating sores, skin diseases as well as washing.

The ancient Greeks were known to wash without soap. They preferred to wash with water, blocks of clay, pumice, sands and ashes and then to anoint themselves with oil.

According to the myth, soap was devised in the island of Lesbos or Mytilene in Ancient Greece, where animals were sacrificed to the Gods. Animals at sacrifice were often incinerated and thus, wood ashes (alkali source) were mixed with animal fat. It was after a heavy rainstorm that in the water of the local creek, where women were washing clothes, a yellowish liquid tumbling from the mountain of sacrifice was observed and made clothes cleaner.

The ancient poet Sappho wrote about those times that the cleaning action of yellowish liquid in the water was observed.

With time it was found that the addition of salty water in the mixture facilitates the removal of glycerol and excess water, which makes the soap harder. Later, around 200 BC, the ancient Greeks used the soap to clean the amphorae and the statues, while at the same period the Greek physician Galenos recommended washing with soap, as preventive measure for skin diseases.

The Gauls and Romans also used goat’s tallow and beech tree ashes to produce both hard and soft soap products. Regardless of its end uses, soap became popular throughout the Roman Empire and promoted its production. Worth noting is that an entire soap factory has been revealed at the ruins of Pompeii, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Arab chemists in Syria and Palestine were the first to prepare soap using a mixture of vegetable oils (such as olive oil), aromatic herbal oils (such as laurel or thyme oil) and potash. Around the 7th century AD, the first soap industries were established in the Middle East, in Nablus and in Aleppo, whose fame quickly spread in Mediterranean areas. In addition to the aromatic solid soap, were also devised the colored and the liquid soaps and some more particular soaps, like the shaving soap. The effect of soap-making art of Middle East in the European people and communities was even greater during the first crusade (late 11th century), where Arab craftsmen transferred their knowledge and set the foundation for the manufacture of soaps that are still famous today, like those of Castile (Spain) and Marseille (France).

Noteworthy is that since 600 AD the recipe of natural olive oil soap has remained untouched.

Today Sapoon continues the ancient Greek tradition with respect for the consumer and sensitivity to the environment, and prepares natural soaps from Greek organic virgin olive oil. Our outstanding quality soaps are made from 100% natural ingredients with no dyes or other chemical additives.

Original site:

More notes:

Video on making soap with wood ash and animal fat:

We also see from here ( that lye is a caustic cleaning agent: “From as early as 2800 B.C., the ancient Babylonians already knew how to make lye from wood ash. Lye or potassium hydroxide is a caustic cleaning agent, and it is useful for scrubbing wooden floors, cleaning linens, and many more. In fact, when you mix ash with water, this “lye water” can be used as a bleaching agent or laundry detergent. Yes, this means that ironically, you can use wood ash to make your clothes brighter.”
Bottom-line, today’s soaps aren’t nearly as caustic.

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