Scented Essentials

| October/November 1995

Click here to learn how to make soap

Soap Recipes:

Calendula Unscented Baby Soap
Comfrey and Aloe Vera Soap
Garden Mint Soap
Lavender Soap
Lemon Verbena Soap
Chamomile and Lavender Baby Soap
Rosemary Morning Soap
Gentleman Farmer Soap
Mr. Spicy Shaving Soap 

My love affair with herbal soapmaking began in my farm­house kitchen fifteen years ago. Since that day, it has grown into a thriving business for me. Now thousands of other people are discovering the pleasure of making fragrant homemade soaps and are at their soap pots this very moment stirring, brewing, and sniffing.

Soap has played a role throughout much of human history. Our ancestors extracted it from plants such as yucca, soapwort, and horsetail. The first known written mention of soap is on Sume­rian clay tablets dating to about 2500 b.c. that were found in Mesopotamia in what is now southern Iraq. The excavation of Pompeii, a city buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a.d. 79, revealed the existence of an entire soap factory.

Ancient Roman legend gives soap its name. From Mount Sapo, where animals were sacrificed, rain washed a mixture of melted animal fats and wood ashes down into the Tiber River below. There the soapy mixture was discovered to be useful for washing clothing, fur, and skin. With the fall of the Roman Empire in a.d. 467, the popularity of soap and bathing went into decline. The resulting lack of cleanliness is ­believed to have contributed heavily to the plagues of the Middle Ages. It wasn’t until several centuries later that bathing would come back into fashion in Europe.

Soapmakers’ guilds began to spring up in Europe during the seventh century. Italy, Spain, and France were early production centers for soap due to the excellent supply of olive oil and barillas, saltworts, plants of the genus Salsola whose ashes were used to make lye. The English began soapcrafting during the twelfth century. For the next several centuries, soap was heavily taxed as a luxury in England and on the Continent, and it was readily available only to the rich. It is said that Napoleon paid two francs for a bar of perfumed Brown Windsor soap. When the English soap tax was repealed in 1853, a boom in the soap trade and a change in the social attitudes toward personal cleanliness went hand in hand. The advent of indoor plumbing made bathing easier.

In Colonial America, women made soap at home just as they made most other home products. Commercial production of soap did not begin until 1608, when several enterprising soapmakers from England arrived in the New World. Technological advances such as the development of a process for extracting inexpensive soda ash from common salt helped the soapmaking industry flourish in America by the mid-1800s.

2/23/2015 1:52:35 AM bring you cosmetics inspired by nature not only in function – but in form as well. A true Nature’s Art from the heart of Europe. We offer a range of natural, handmade, personal care product, brought to you from the heart of Europe.

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