History of soap & soap dishes

We make and sell a lot of soap dishes so we started to wonder about bars of soap…and here are the fun facts we found out!

When was soap invented?

The first soaps were thought to have been used by the ancient Babylonians about 2800 BCE. Egyptians also used soap according to records from 1500 BCE.

What was early soap made from?

The first soaps were made from animal fats mixed with wood ash and were stored in cylinders. Later recipes included vegetable oils.

What did ancient peoples use soap for?

Initially they didn’t seem to use them for keeping the body clean. They used soap to wash clothes and for treating skin ailments.

What were the most popular soaps historically?

Aleppo soap was made in Aleppo, Syria, a key city on the famous silk road from Asia. The recipe was a simple one; olive oil, sweet bay oil and water are mixed with sodium hydroxide, heated and then left to cool. Soap is cut into blocks and then left to age in the shade for minimum of seven months.

Castile soap was the descendant of Aleppo soap, which was brought back to Europe in the 11th century. Muslim soap makers arrived in Spain during the 12th century and promoted large scale soap production and development of new recipes, which were still based on olive oil. By this point there was a great interest in personal cleanliness and Castile soap was the purest, highest quality product. It was imported all over Europe, including to England.

When was liquid soap invented?

The first liquid soap was patented in 1865 but wasn’t really popular until the creation of Palmolive in 1898. Like the name suggests, this liquid soap contained both palm and olive oil.

Who first used soap dishes?

We don’t know exactly when the first soap dish was invented but there is an early mention of one being used incorrectly! In 668 Emperor Constans II was killed in his bath with a soap dish by one of his own military entourage. The reason for this attack was because of his hostilities with the church and failure on the battlefield.