There is much more to a simple bar of soap than getting clean. Here are ten fascinating facts about soap to think about before you next lather up!
Soap can save lives! Through the simple act of handwashing with soap it is estimated that 1.4 million deaths a year could be prevented. The World Health Organisation actively promotes handwashing to save lives by preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
In chemistry soap is a type of salt. It is formed by mixing fatty acids with an alkaline solution. A chemical reaction called saponification takes place and soap is the end result.
Soap has been around for a long time. The earliest known soap recipe dates back to the ancient Babylonians in 2800BC. They discovered that combining fats with wood ash created a substance that could be used for cleaning.
Soap is derived from the latin word ‘sapo.’ Mount Sapo is a fictional mountain in Rome that is said to be associated with traditional soap making.
Pears was the world’s first mass produced transparent soap sold in 1807. It was made in a factory in London by Andrew Pears who started out as a barber in Soho.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a detergent added to commercial soap. It’s a very effective foaming agent and a known skin irritant. If you have dermatitis it may well be caused by SLS.
A bi-product of creating soap is glycerine which is naturally moisturising. The glycerine is usually removed by commercial soap producers and sold to the cosmetics industry.
Nature has its very own version of soap in the form of the Soapwort plant. Native to Europe and Asia its leaves and roots are rich in saponins which produce a lather in water and can be used for washing.
According to the Global Soap Project 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded daily by the hotel industry in the US alone. Luckily there are some amazing projects to reduce this waste such as Sundara who create sustainable soap recycling projects for underserved populations around the world.
Castile soap is traditionally made with 100% olive oil. It is a good option for very sensitive skin as it is made with one of the most skin friendly oils available.