According to the Oxford Dictionary soap is “a substance used with water for washing and cleaning, made of a compound of natural oils or fats with sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali, and typically having perfume and colouring added”.
The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 B.C. in ancient Babylon. The Ebers papyrus (Egypt, 1550 B.C.) indicates the ancient Egyptians bathed regularly and combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance. In the 8th century, soap-making was well known in Italy and Spain. In France, by the second half of the 15th century, the semi-industrialized professional manufacture of soap was excellent with soap production at Marseille being the most prominent. Finer soaps were later produced in Europe from the 16th century, using vegetable oils (such as olive oil) as opposed to animal fats. Until the Industrial Revolution, soap making was conducted on a small scale and the product was rough. Soap-making has made progress by the time having colouring added or becoming fluid.
Olive oil Soap
Olive oil soap or, as it is known in English-speaking countries, Castile soap, is a soap made from pure olive oil and is therefore adequate for sensitive skin. The name Castile soap derives from the kingdom of Castile, a region in Spain, which had abundance in olive oil, a crucial ingredient that was used in the production of their high quality soap. The earliest recorded evidence of Castile soap dates back to the 13th century. It became popular for its benefits and its therapeutic properties very soon. It was originally known as sapo hispaniensis or sapo castilliensis and was used by the royal or rich families. Most of the people could not afford it because of its high price.
Pure olive oil soap produces an extremely soft and creamy lather without bubbles. The elaic acid of the olive oil hydrates and nourishes the skin making it soft. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in squalene, which helps moisturize, nourish and protect the epidermis. Olive oil soap is not greasy and does not clog the skin pores. Olive oil is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E promoting thus the regeneration of scared skin. For all the above mentioned reasons, olive oil soap is ideal for little children and adults with sensitive skin. The properties of the olive oil soap are often enriched by herbs or essential oils.
The olive oil soaps of “The land of Corfu” are cold-process soaps. The cold-process soap-making is a natural and eco-friendly way to produce soap. During this process water, fats (olive oil or any vegetable oil) and NaOH (caustic soda or lye) are mixed at room temperature. The result of this reaction (saponification), is a salt, commonly known as soap. During saponification there are no effluvia and no solid or liquid waste. The saponification vessels do not need to be cleaned, since the waste is actually soap powder that can be positively used and mixed during a future saponification.