We all use soap several times a day, yet few of us have ever actually given thought to where it comes from and how soap came to be in the first place.
It turns out that the history of soapmaking is a bit of a mystery because of the many different stories that have surfaced over the centuries.
The earliest evidence of soapmaking that we know of comes from Egypt in 1550BC as indicated in Ebers papyrus showing that Egyptians bathed using a combination of vegetable and animal oils, and alkaline salts which created a soap type of substance.
Though there is evidence of the Egyptians making soap, the Roman history of soapmaking also provides us with some colorful stories that have led many to believe that they were responsible for both manufacturing soap as well as naming it.
One such story is that soap got its name from a place called “Mount Sapo”. Story has it that Mount Sapo was where animal sacrifices took place and the tallow, ashes and water produced soap. The funny thing about this story is that there is no evidence of a place called Mount Sapo in the Roman world. All we do know for certain about the name is that sapo means soap.
Pioneers would run water through wood ash to make a form of lye that was then mixed with water and beef tallow or lard to make soap. The lye allows the oils to combine in a process called saponification.
Here at The Village Soapworks we make our soap in much the same way. Our Cold Process Soap is made by combining high quality plant based oils with lye and distilled water. Using a stick blender the oils, water and lye are blended until the mixture reaches a pudding like consistency. Fragrance and any other additives are incorporated at this time and then the mixture is poured into a mold and after 24 hours...soap! It is then cut and left sit to "cure" for 3 -4 weeks then it's ready to go!
We also make a Hot Process soap using the same recipe only the batch is cooked in a crock pot which speeds up the saponification process eliminating the need for bars to cure and allowing the soap to be used right away.