All I knew was that starting about 2005 years ago, I couldn't find 'my glycerin soap' anymore. I used to buy it by the dozens at Bath & Body Works. Every year, it would go on sale, I'd drive out to the outlet mall in stock up for the year. So I'm there, and I'm thinking, ok, where's my soap....... nothing. I got blank stares from the sales people - "we have liquid body wash now, you should try it!" I took one look at the ingredients label and walked out for good. And the search to find my soap was on!!
After using glycerin soap for 20 years, I was then on a mission to find a new source. When I couldn't find one, I started reading books about soapmaking and was fascinated by what I learned.
I really never thought of soap as a natural product. I didn't really know what soap was, but in general I put soap in the 'bad - but necessary stuff' category. I could never use the cheap, grocery store stuff - it burned my eyes and my skin, I hated it! The only soap I could tolerate was the pretty, translucent glycerin soap. And after reading about soap history, I understood that soap is an amazing 'natural' product that is actually beneficial, not an unpleasant necessity. That was it for me, I wanted to make my own glycerin soap!
Just for fun, I want to share some how soap hisotry with you - what follows is a brief accounting of our favorite, seemingly-simple, yet extraordinarily complex natural product known as soap.....
Once upon a time....Some say the history or soap started with the ancient Babylonians and the ancient Egyptian. Records show that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly. The Ebers Papyrus, a medical document from about 1500 B.C., describes combining animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to form a soap-like material used for treating skin diseases, as well as for washing.
Soap got its name, according to an ancient Roman legend, from Mount Sapo, where animals were sacrificed. Rain washed a mixture of melted animal fat, or tallow, and wood ashes down into the clay soil along the Tiber River. Women, washing their clothes downriver, found that this clay mixture made the water foamy and their clothes got cleaner with much less effort. They noticed that when this bubbly mix of animal fat and wood ashes came into contact with their clothes, the dirt on them seemed to magically wash away. After this discovery, soap was made deliberately and proved most popular!
As Roman civilization advanced, so did bathing. The first of the famous Roman baths, supplied with water from their aqueducts, was built about 312 B.C. The baths were luxurious, and bathing became very popular. By the second century A.D., the Greek physician, Galen, recommended soap for both medicinal and cleansing purposes.
Yes, it was simply amazing that the combination of these 2 very unlikely ingredients - fats and wood ash - transformed into one of natures greatest gifts. Real soap nourishes the skin, cleans and protects it. It also made it easier to stay clean and germ free, contributing greatly to a more hygenic and healthy way of life.
And so the wonders of real soap began to spread....