Soap: The Dependable Luxury Gift

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
Bookmark and Share

Soap is a staple product in homes worldwide, and the artisanal art of handmade soapmaking is experiencing a resurgence.

The use of soap for cleaning clothes has been documented as early as 2200 BC. A Babylonian tablet from that time, contains a written formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil. We know that the Romans had adopted the usage of soap for cleansing the body, according to the physician, Galen, in the 2nd Century AD. Soapmaking in Europe became very common after the Middle Ages, and the first white bar of hard soap was produced in Castila, Spain in the early 1600s. This soap was made with locally boiled olive oil and "Castile Soap" became a luxury product whose appeal spread to all corners of the globe.

Soap is formed when neutral oils or fats are boiled with alkali in a reaction which produces soap and glycerin. After World War II, manufactured soap, available in grocery stores, became very popular, but today we are experiencing a reversion back to traditional hand-made practices, which are very skin-friendly and can even contain certain therapeutic properties.

There are soaps which are infused with herbs and oils for people with sensitive skin conditions. Soaps specifically made for women, with fragrances such as rose and lavender, come beautifully packaged and are especially welcomed gifts. A beautiful bar of soap in the bath or shower, adds a touch of luxury to an every-day experience. Soaps made for men frequently are made with robust ingredients such as lime, sandalwood and eucalyptus.

Perusing the internet, one can find many artisanal soapmaker sites. Their ingredients include essential oils, shea butter, herbal infusions, plant extracts, natural vegetable and mineral pigments, and the end result is a fragrant, gentle bar of beautifully cleansing soap.

If French soap is what you're looking for, check out:
You might have to order a bar or two of their soap of the week, especially if it's wild blackberry.

And that mother-in-law of yours, who has been babysitting the kids...she'll probably be delighted to receive a sweetly packaged box of hand-milled soaps as a token of your appreciation.

Bookmark and Share