When we turn to an environmentally conscious lifestyle, the question arises as to which soap to use. We often hear the names Marseille soap, black soap, Aleppo soap or castile soap when talking about natural soaps, but what are their differences, and for what uses?
I give you informations on the main ones.
History: The first soap factories were located in Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo soap is the first hard soap in the world.
Manufacturing: It is 100% natural, made by artisans from a water base , natural soda (or salicorne ash), olive oil and bay laurel oil. The higher the % of bay laurel oil, the more purifying the soap will be. Aleppo soap has a brown crust and a green inside.
Before being marketed, an Aleppo soap has been aged in a cellar for 6 months to 3 years.
Properties: Aleppo soap is recommended for people suffering from eczema, psoriasis, dermatosis, acne, candidiasis. It is also suitable for babies and even for diaper rash.
Hypoallergenic, it has extra oil thanks to the addition of bay laurel oil after the saponification process. Bay Laurel oil has soothing, antiseptic and disinfecting properties.
Aleppo soap also has healing and antibacterial properties.
The real Aleppo soap must have a seal indicating the manufacturer.
It is never found with the mention "organic" although all its ingredients are natural.
Since the beginning of the war in Syria, most soap manufacturers in Aleppo have settled elsewhere in Syria or Turkey.
It does not contain palm oil.
It is biodegradable and environmentally friendly
Black soap or soft soap
History: The first black soap was developed by the Yoruba people, particularly in Benin, Togo and Nigeria. The Yoruba called it "Ose Dudu" which literally means "black soap"..
Manufacturing: Black soap is made from black olives and plant oils. It is found in 2 forms. A smooth, oily paste for body care and scrubbing. It is obtained from a mixture of oil and black olives crushed and macerated in salt and potash. As for its colour, it varies from green, dark brown to black. This depends on the oil used and the manufacturer.
You can also find liquid household black soap, which is composed of potash and a fat, olive oil, linseed oil or glycerin.
There are also two types of black soap that differ in origin:
Properties: naturally fat and rich in vitamin E, black soap has very good exfoliating and moisturizing properties. It is softening and nourishing.
Do not use household black soap on the body and check the composition as the household black soaps can contain additives.
100% biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
History: As its name suggests, this soap is made in Marseille or more precisely in the Marseille region. Thus, the first Marseille soap was produced at the end of the 14th century.
In the 17th century, King Louis XIV regulated the recipe of Marseille soap and instituted that the name "Savon de Marseille" be reserved only for soaps prepared exclusively from 72% olive oil.
Manufacturing: Real Marseille soap contains 72% plant oils (olive, coconut or palm) and soda. It is made in an ancient cauldron with a slow heating. The result is a product that does not melt easily when used, making it a very economical soap.
Savon de Marseille is traditionally green or white. The white soap is made with palm oil, the green with at least 50% olive oil.
There are two types of Marseille soap:
One for the body containing glycerin which acts as a moisturiser and the household soap, without glycerin, as originally manufactured.
There are only 5 artisanal soap factories left in the Marseille region. It can be found in other regions of France.
The interest being to turn to a traditional Marseille soap containing 72% oil.
There is a lot of industrially produced Marseille soap, especially from China and Turkey. Avoid buying it in the supermarket and take a good look at the list of ingredients because industrial Marseille soap contains products that can be harmful to health, including preservatives, colorants, synthetic products and palm oil.
Traditional Marseille soap is economical, ecological and biodegradable.
History: Castile soap was created several centuries ago in Spain, more precisely in the region of Castile (hence its name). Renowned for its softness on the skin, this soap was once a luxury product that only royal families had the privilege of using.
Manufacturing: Castile soap is made of plant oils mixed with alkali - sodium hydroxide for the solid form, potassium hydroxide for the liquid form. This soap does not contain artificial foaming agents, aggressive detergents, fatty acids extracted from vegetable oils or fats, petrochemicals or antibacterial chemicals.
Generally, a Castilian soap is composed only of olive oil. The moisturizing and repairing properties of olive oil give it its properties. However, it is very sparse and quite viscous. This is the reason why contemporary soap manufacturers have added essential oils to flavor it, foaming agents and/or colorants.
It is therefore now difficult to find soap from Castile containing 100% olive oil, but its composition remains very largely rich in this oil (more than 80%).
It is more easily found in liquid form. Read the composition carefully. The most famous brand in the US is Dr Bronner's (the recipe has been modified and their Castile soap now contains palm oil (however from fair trade))
Economical, biodegradable and ecological
A word about saponification.
It is a chemical reaction between a fatty substance and an alkaline substance. This reaction can be obtained either hot or cold.
Can you make your own soaps?
Yes, of course, but making real soaps requires experience, preparation and above all, caution.