Getting clean the natural way
Castile soap, pronounced “kas-teel”, is rooted in the traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean where Aleppo soap makers made hard cleansing bars out of laurel oil and lye. Laurel oil is derived from the aromatic Laurus nobilis, an evergreen tree with green, glossy leaves native to Syria. To this day, the origins of Aleppo soap remain unclear. Claims that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Queen Zenobia of Syria used Aleppo soap abound.
The common belief is that the Crusaders brought Aleppo soap back to Europe with them during the 11th century. Since laurel oil was not readily available in that part of the world, it was replaced with olive oil in the Castile region of Spain.
Hence - Castile soap was created!
Traditional Castile soap is made by blending olive oil and lye. Lye, also called caustic soda, is the common name for sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide is favoured for making solid Castile soap with potassium hydroxide used for liquid soap.
With full saponification there is no lye left in the soap solution and distilled water is added to dilute the soap into Castile liquid soap. The liquid soap is then matured for at least 4 weeks – a bit like a fine wine, to achieve its beautiful golden hue. A well-made Castile liquid soap should be clear and show no traces of cloudiness. This is the art of the Castile Soap Maker. With each handcrafted batch being slightly different, the maker needs to be attentive and responsive to the soap he is creating.
Naturally Herbal Castile Liquid Soap is pure – no other oils, fragrances or preservatives and it is made with Organic Olive oil. It doesn’t lather like conventional soap products but being as natural as possible it is kind to the skin and the environment.
It came about because of our own desire to have a fragrance free, minimal ingredients to support our own skin and well-being. We use it for ourselves, our family, our pets and even for household cleaning!
Solid Castile Soap from Marseilles in France was traditionally cubed. This tradition has been carried on by Naturally Herbal. Each cube is slightly misshapen reflecting its handmade nature. Naturally Herbal now have Pure Castile Solid Soap as well as some with the oil infused with herbs (Calendula and Comfrey), added minerals (French Green Clay or Activated Charcoal) as well as oatmeal for itchy skin, Persimmon for elderly skin and Pinetar. These are at least 6 months matured before being released for sale.
We, at Naturally Herbal, are always seeking ways to minimise the packaging impact on the environment. For safety reasons, we use plastic bottles for our liquid Castile and are establishing ways to offer a refill service. Watch this space for more details.