the history of the first types of soap made and how it was discovered.
Soap has been made for at least the last 2000 years in some form or another.
The first soaps were formed by boiling animal fat (or olive oil around the Mediterranean) to dryness with ashes from a wood fire, which contain potassium hydroxide. [ The earliest users were either the Celts (who called it saipo), or the Phoenicians. According to Pliny the Elder, the Phoenicians were using soap as early
as 600 B.C.
These early soaps were generally used for cleaning clothes and for curing animal hides. The Romans used soap on their bodies as part of bathing, and they spread their soap making skills throughout Europe.
In Europe, medieval soap production centered around Marseilles and spread to Genoa and Venice. In England, there was soap production in Bristol as early as the 12th century. In the 13th and 14th Centuries, it started in Cheapside in London. Soap was seen as a great source of revenue by the government and it was taxed. During the Napoleonic wars this tax was as much as 3d per pound, and the tax inspectors would lock up the soap boiling pans to stop illegal production at night.
This tax was not repealed until 1835, by which time the exchequer was making £1m a year from the industry.
The process remained more or less unchanged until a method of producing large quantities of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was discovered in the late 18th century. This opened up the manufacture of good quality soap on a large scale. By the time of the industrial revolution in the late 18th century, soap was more widely available. In fact, Pears Soap dates from 1789.
Apparently, Justus von Liebig, a German chemist, said that the amount of soap that a nation used was a measure of its wealth and civilisation. If only that were true now.
What's special about our soap Droyt's Clear Glycerine Soap is an all-in, semi-boiled frame soap, cut by hand from a large block and stamped to shape in a box die.
With the addition of a few other ingredients, this method can be used to make a genuine transparent soap, i.e. a soap which is clear like glass. ]
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