The History of Soap

Author: Ashley Scobie   Date Posted:13 March 2018 

The History of Soap 

Have you ever wondered when soap was first discovered? Or what is was like before the introduction of chemicals and fake ingredients? Well, this is the story of Soap.

It all started 5000 years ago when the Sumerians were boiling ashes, animals fats and vegetable fats together to make a slurry for cleaning.

Soon after the women who lived near Mount Sapo discovered Soap when rain washed a combination of wood ashes and animal fat into the clay soil by the Tiber River where they were doing laundry. The famous Roman natural historian,Pliny, disputed this claim and credited soap’s invention to the Gallic and Germanic tribes the Romans encountered during their conquests. In any event, what is more definitively known is that Romans were using soap in their baths by 200 A.D.

After Rome fell to the barbarians in the late fourth century A.D., Soap use dropped. The Roman Catholic Church discouraged bathing because it was seen as too like the pagan ways of the old empire. Many people followed this advice, and the general lack of hygiene and sanitation is now thought to be a primary contributor to the spread of the Black Death (1348-1350), among other diseases.

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 the Spanish made Castile soap.

Prior to the 18th century, however, soap use still was not wide spread (gross!) Not only was it too expensive for everyone but the wealthy, but most soap had an unpleasant aroma as well. New methods of producing soap was soon on the horizon that were made palm and coconut oils; making soap more appealing.

Although many claims that the real turning point was I the mid 19th century. In the Crimean war, many deaths came from diseases rather than battle wounds. It was Florence Nightingale who bought soap to into the hospitals and immediately, deaths decreased.

Unfortunately, today soap has never been worse… It is made with toxic chemicals and fake ingredients that have no benefit to us what so ever. Washing ourselves in animal fats may not sound too appealing, but we would rather that than most commercial Soap.


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