The History of Hand Crafted Soap

Making Handmade Soap: An Age-Old Tradition

The earliest recorded evidence of the making of handmade soap dates back to around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. The recipe for the soap consisted of ashes, oil and sesame seed oil. A recipe was found for handcrafted soap on a clay tablet around 2200 BC. This recipe consisted of water, alkali and cassia oil. It is also thought that the ancient Egyptians bathed regularly and made their own soap consisting of animal and vegetable oil and alkaline salts.

There is early evidence of the Romans using soap as well. Zosimos of Panopolic c. 300 AD describes the process of making handmade soap using lye and recommends using it to wash clothes and the body.

By the late 6th century, handcrafted natural soap was well known in Italy and Spain. In documents that date back to around 800 AD refer to soap making as "women's work." Soaps were then produced by chemists and were made from vegetable oils such as olive oil and aromatic oil such as thyme oil and lye. As society evolved, soap was perfumed and colored and some were made in a solid form while others were liquid.

By the second half of the 15th century, in France, the making of handmade soap was concentrated to a few areas then distributed throughout the country. During the 16th century, most handcrafted soaps were produced by small-scale artisans and used vegetable oils rather than animal fat.

Today the most popular soap making process is the cold process method, which is a traditional process involving olive oil and lye that's been perfected over the years. As you can see, although cold process soap making is an age-old tradition, soap making has come a very long way since it originated in 2800 BC.