SOAP FROM ITS ROOTS
Hello everyone! Welcome to Olivia Soaps' Blog! We decided to create this blog to share with you everything we know about natural body soap, the production of handmade soap and skin care, and, of course, to discuss with you about these subjects and about natural cosmetics in general. We would like to make a premise: before discussing anything, we believe that it is always appropriate to define your own terms, as someone said well before me. Given that, many times, subjects that appear abstruse and incomprehensible are only so because of not well-defined terms, it is worthwhile, in our opinion, to invest some time in a greater understanding of the basics of what we will go to. treat and, in this case, use, on our skin. One might ask: why on earth should we define terms inherent to Soap? Why understand its history, chemistry, peculiarities? It should be enough for us to know how to use it, and what are its potential harmful or beneficial aspects… right? Maybe not. In our opinion, deepening is needed. Even in a hectic world like ours, in which there is apparently no more time to delve into 'trifles', it is necessary. It serves to make a conscious and reasoned choice based on understanding, it serves to quench the thirst of unusual curiosities, formulate opinions, discover new worlds. Your decision to follow us on this path would make us very happy, but it is totally up to you; know that, like everything, even the soap is a microcosm that has a lot to say for those who want to listen to it. He has a long history, an interesting multi-faceted personality, he has had moments of glory and weakness, success and infamy ... And so on and so forth, the more. So, if you like, make yourself comfortable with us, and let's go on a journey into the world of the detergent par excellence.
Ah, before you start, please forgive me the freedom I took, to write Soap with a capital S every time I talk about handmade Soap. I thought I owed it to him. When we enter this universe, we discover fields of knowledge to be explored in every corner on which our gaze rests ... from the magic of the chemical transformation that gives life to the soap, to the properties of the ingredients, from the realm of scents, colors, to appearance sustainability, industry, self-production and regulations… Far be it from us to set ourselves up as authorities in the sector! But surely in recent years, we have learned things. We learned them from books, from our direct observation and practical experience, from consulting with experts in the field, from asking many questions to those who knew more than us and from receiving patient answers, and then having packed a small baggage of knowledge that we would like to convey to you in full, leaving room for comparison, your experiences, your opinions, not failing to mention the sources we draw from when we draw them or to specify whether it is our personal experience, trying to contribute to the evolution and dissemination of our awareness inherent in this friend whom one cannot do without… The Soap. THE HISTORY OF SOAP, SOAP AND ANTIQUITY You cannot define the soap or understand its etymology without taking a look at its entire history. Or rather, you can, but we like to go round and deepen, and perhaps, if you are still reading, you have the same kind of approach to things. So here's what we know, what we suspect and what we imagine, about the history of the Soap ... First of all, it is interesting to take into consideration the fact that there are chemical processes that, in reality, have accompanied man since time immemorial, such as leavening or cheese making. The same goes for saponification. On the other hand, the need to wash seems to be among those that cannot be renounced. It is even believed that the earliest rudimentary forms of soap date back thousands of years. In fact, there is only one documented example, which is that of a Sumerian formula based on Cassia oil (non-thorny herbaceous plant with yellow flowers that grow in clusters) and ash, but we cannot exclude rudimentary forms of Soap also in the Egyptian period. and the Phoenician one. During the Roman period (from 27 BC to 476 AD) of the use of soap as such, no mention is made. The Romans, in fact, completely changed the concept of personal cleansing, replacing it with a system that resembles something similar to today's peeling. In fact, in public thermal baths, they rubbed their skin with minerals such as pumice stone, mixed with grease, which was then removed with a sort of spatula. However, we owe to the famous Latin author Pliny the Elder, a testimony on the soap of that period. In fact, in his work 'Naturalis Historia', he described the custom of the Gauls of using 'Soap' (a mixture of beech ash and goat fat) as a hair dye (the original language extract of his text can be found in the book 'Homemade soap for Dummies' by P. Tadiello and M. Garzena, to whom I owe many ideas and information present in this paper as well as the beginning of my passion). And here we come across the first traces of our sought-after etymology in the late Latin word 'Saponem' which meant 'a mixture of tallow (animal fat) and ash to dye the hair, of Celtic or Germanic origin'. At this point I believe it is only right to make an inscription on the legend of Mount Sappo that perhaps some of you have heard about, a legend that wants to trace the roots and etymology of Soap back to the Roman era and precisely to the events that took place on this mountain. , or the animal sacrifices that were performed there to please the Gods. It is said that the fat of the animals offered in this way mixed with the ash of the braziers, transforming, with the fall of the rain, into a substance capable of cleaning the fabrics. This appears somewhat unlikely and not based on actual findings, although it is a good story that makes the imagination fly a bit.
The news about the soap became completely nil after the fall of the Roman Empire and with the passage to the Middle Ages, sadly known for various reasons, nevertheless the poor general hygienic conditions that led to an exponential growth of rats on which the terrible epidemic of Plague probably depended which decimated the European population. Soap appeared again at the end of the Middle Ages, with the development of trade and the growth of urban centers, and it is the Mediterranean area (Liguria, France and Spain) to boast the first workshops of Artisan Soap, although production still took place with the maceration of wood ash and animal fats or olive oil (we will speak later of the soap made with ash or lye).
Unfortunately, speaking at this point of Soap as we know it would still be a bit fanciful because, precisely, due to the impurity of the alkali (ash), the result that we could imagine from this chemical process, would consist of a brick. dark, hard and completely free of foam.
TO BE CONTINUED ...