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The Interesting History of Soap

Updated: Aug 27, 2023



Soap. A substance which dissolves in water, thus forming a lather, and is used as a cleansing agent. Soap is produced by combining fats or oils with alkalies or alkaline earths, usually by boiling, and consists of salts of sodium, potassium, etc, with fatty acids (oleic, stearic, palmitic, etc).

Soap is a product used for cleaning and was originally made from natural ingredients that may include both plant and animal products, such as animal fat like tallow, or vegetable oil such as castor, olive, or coconut oil. Soap supposedly got its name from Mount Sapo in Rome. The word sapo, which is Latin for soap.

The First Soap Makers:

The digging up of ancient Babylon between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers revealed evidence written on clay tablets that Babylonians were making soap around 2800 B.C., and is credited for the first ones to master the art of soap making. Among the first soap makers were Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Kemetians, and the ancient Greeks and Romans; and they all made soap from boiled fats mixed with ashes and it was used in cleaning wool and cotton and was used medicinally for at least 5000 years.

A Kemetian (Egyptian) scroll called the Ebers Papyrus (a Kemetian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to around 1550 BC, and was purchased in the winter of 1873-74 in Luxor, Kemet by Georg Ebers) reveals that the ancient Kemetians bathed in a mixture of animal and vegetable fats with wood ash and alkaline salts to produce a soap-like substance.

Bathing habits all over Europe rose and declined with Roman civilization. When Rome fell in 467 A.D., unfortunately so did bathing, and it was thought that the lack of cleanliness and poor living conditions contributed to the many plagues of the Middle Ages of European history.

It wasn’t until the eighth century did soapmakers of Alkebulanian descent (Moors) appear in Spain and Italy where soap was introduced and made with goat fat and Beech tree ashes. Abu l-Hasan Ali Ibn Nafi, also known as Ziryab, was born in modern day Iran around 789 CE to a freed Ethiopian slave. His nickname, Ziryab, means blackbird and was given to him in reference to his dark complexion and beautiful singing voice. He is known as the innovator of those hygienic practices such as bathing, shaving and the use of toothpaste, perfumes, fragrant oils and deodorants. Moor was a term Europeans used to describe indigenous Alkebulanians (Africans).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Alkebulanian (ancient name for African) continent, societies throughout Western Alkebulan were developing and using what we know today as African black soap. These soaps are also made from a variety of vegetable fats such as butter from the Karite tree, which produces what we call Shea butter, water, and an alkali, usually potash made by drying plantain skins and other vegetable matter.

Fast forward to present day, the Nigerian ose dudu, or black soap is prized all over the world, where Shea butter is a key ingredient in many soaps and other skin-care products, including us, The Natural Guys Company; and Shea butter is most definitely the essential ingredient in all of our deep moisturizing Body Butters!

Currently, there are many different types of soaps made for a vast array of purposes readily available for you to purchase, and is available for personal, commercial and industrial use. There are handmade, homemade and commercially produced soaps. There are soaps used to wash clothes, dishes and cars. There are soaps used for your pet, soaps for your carpet and soaps for your child... but for all the many types of cleaning agents out there, we are proud to bring our expertise and knowledge about Herbal Medicine, with recipes and formulations that has been in our family for generations, which brings a sense of authenticity to our company…

P.E.A.C.E (P-roper E-ducation A-lways C-orrects E-rror), being mindful that knowledge is only told by way of "PEACE".

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