Soap making became recognized as a craft in the 7th century in Europe and soap making guilds appeared. They were extremely secretive and guarded their trade craft extremely well. The guilds were also the first to use fragrance in their soaps.
Spain and Italy were the soap making centers during this period and they used goat fat and Beech tree ashes. Trees were an integral part of soap making and Marseilles had fabulous soil that was very conducive to the production of olive trees and vegetable sodas. As such, it became the first soap plant with Spain and Italy as it main importers. It wasn't long before soap plants sprang up in both these countries and they were in a soap battle until the late 12th century when France stole the show with its olive oil soap.
England got into the soap making game in the 12th century. Elizabeth I set the tone for hygiene during her reign by bathing every 4 weeks so soap consumption in England was greater than other European countries during this period. James 1 of England monopolised soap makers with $100,000.00 per year and special privileges. The Society of Soap Makers of Westminster received a 14 year monopoly from Charles 1 of England.
Soap, in England, was very expensive up until the 19th century. It was considered a luxury item and was heavily taxed, which put it out of reach for the masses thus curtailing their hygiene. Gladstone finally removed the taxes and restrictions in 1853 which then allowed the improvement in hygiene and health for the common people.
Louis Pasteur's proclamation that good personal hygiene would go along way to preventing the spread of disease helped to increase the demand for soap.
Soap making was a fast rising industry in the US by the beginning of the 19th century and it was recognised and a necessity instead of a luxury. Rural soap makers would save up the ashes from their fires until they had enough and with the fat left over from butchering their animals they would make soap.
The trickiest part of soap making was determining when the lye solution was the correct strength. There were a few ways of determining the correct strength. If an egg or a potato was dropped into the lye water and floated about halfway beneath the surface the lye was good to go. If, however, it sank to the bottom or floated on top then adjustments has to be made. Some people used feathers. If the feather started to disintegrate then the lye was the right strength.
Commercial soaps didn't appear on the scene until the First World War which increased the need for cleaning products. Detergents first came into being at this time as soap making ingredients were scarce and German scientists used synthetic compounds to create a new soap-like product.
The products that we use today are actually detergents and by law they can't be called soap. That body wash you use or the "body bar" are not soap at all. They are a mixture of detergents, chemicals and additives that actually dry out your skin, especially since they don't contain any glycerine. Commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin and either sell it or use it in the expensive creams and lotions we use to moisturise our skin that has been dried out by the "soap" product we just used to clean our skin.
As consumers educate themselves they are becoming more aware of the possible adverse effects of using these commercial cleansers that are full of chemicals and additives and are turning to natural products like the ones I make. It is important to read the labels on any personal cleansing product you buy. Some manufacturers are slipping in a few "natural ingredients", but this doesn't make the product natural if it still contains chemicals & additives. Commercial soap manufacturers are unable to make a truly natural soap.
Faerie Dust Bath & Body products are made in small
batches using only high quality, natural ingredients
which produces a gentle, natural soap or shampoo