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Marseille Soap a brief History

  • 1 min read

A brief history of Marseille French Soap

Marseille soap (Savon de Marseille) is a traditional soap made from vegetable oils that has been made around Marseille, France, for about 600 years, the first documented soap maker in the area being recorded in about 1370. By 1688, Louis XIV introduced regulations limiting the use of the name savon de Marseille to soaps made in and around the Marseille area, and only from olive oil. Today this law still applies, although the regulations now allow other vegetable oils to be used. 

Traditionally, the soap is made by mixing sea water from the Mediterranean, olive oil, and the alkaline chemicals soda ash (sodium carbonate) and lye (sodium hydroxide) together in a large cauldron. This mixture is then heated for several days, stirred constantly. The mixture is then allowed to sit and, once ready, it is poured into the mold, and allowed to set slightly. Whilst still soft, it is cut into bars and stamped, and left to completely harden. The whole process can take up to a month from start to finish. 

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