Soap: Go Natural – Go Shmutzies
Soap is ancient history
What is the history of soap and where did cleaning come from?
The history of soap is a long one, dating back thousands of years to Ancient Babylon. Humans have built on that knowledge to create the soaps and detergents we use to clean dishes, laundry, our homes, and ourselves today. We’re guessing that as far back as then, people didn’t want to smell and so they needed to figure out how to get clean.
Evidence has been found that ancient Babylonians understood soap making as early as 2800 BC. Archeologists have found soap-like material in historic clay cylinders from this time. These cylinders were inscribed with what we understand as saying, “fats boiled with ashes” (a method of making soap).
Records show that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly. The Ebers papyrus, a medical document from about 1500 BC 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. Sounds gross to think about now and would be very inappropriate to use animal fats in our soap today. But they used what they had at the time, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without these early creations.
Many other ancient civilizations also used early forms of soap. Soap got its name from an ancient Roman legend about Mount Sapo. Rain would wash down the mountain mixing with animal fat and ashes, resulting in a clay mixture found to make cleaning easier. By the 7th century, soap-making was an established art in Italy, Spain, and France. These countries were early centers of soap manufacturing due to their ready supply of source ingredients, such as oil from olive trees.
After the fall of Rome in 467 AD, bathing habits declined in much of Europe leading to unsanitary conditions in the Middle Ages. The uncleanliness of that time contributed heavily to illness. There were still areas of the medieval world where personal cleanliness remained important. Daily bathing was a common custom in Japan and Europe. In Iceland, pools warmed with water from hot springs were popular gathering places on Saturday evenings.
Well into the 19th century, soap was heavily taxed as a luxury item in several countries. When the tax was removed, soap became available to most people, and cleanliness standards across societies improved. Today, most things we call “soap” are actually detergents. It has become so common to call detergents, soap that most people would be confused if you asked for a liquid hand detergent when shopping.
Soap making is an art form and has taken on exceptional creativity lately. Turning something we take for granted and need and turning into art is magnificent. At Shmutzies, we create each bar of soap with care and love. We want you to smell good, but we also want your skin to feel good.
Try Shmutzies today. Our soap is ancient history with a brand new twist!