More than you ever wanted to know about soap!
Soap, and skin care, have been life long obsessions of mine and I hope to make them yours too!
Skin is our largest organ - we often forget that and even take it for granted. Skin is porous and absorbs everything you put on it. A study that showed an average of 64% skin absorption rate was using solvents like toluene, xylene, and methylene chloride as the compounds tested for skin absorption.
Not all things absorb or penetrate skin to the same degree and if you would like to read more about that here is a great rundown of how and what your skin can absorb - check it out here.
What I want to focus on here in this blog is why I selected the skin care I did. We carry only two lines of cleaning bars and there are lots of reasons why. First, to support small family businesses, supporting those in conflict zones, organic skin care, and skincare that can be used universally, is moisturizing, and healing.
First, the Nablus soap collection - all based in organic olive oil, the bars are then infused with a variety of organic essential oils to provide an additional layer of skin treatment and care.
I particularly love this line because the family has been living in Nablus (Israel/Palestine) for generations and have been making their world renowned soaps for over 400 years. Talk about history and a product proven to work!!
What I also really love about this line is that they harvest olives, to make the organic olive oil, from trees that are hundreds of years old. The trees are so full of character, with their twisted branches, it feels magical to be using something like that.
Second, the Aleppo soap collection - also all based with organic olive oil, the bars are then infused with various levels of laurel oil. The different strengths provide different levels of treatment.
History of Aleppo Soaps
For over 3,000 years, Aleppo soap has been the platinum standard for cleansing and has been a long sought after luxury throughout time. Historically, this soap has been in nearly every royal home in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. It was Cleopatra’s go to skin care as well. In modern times, it is used in hospitals around the world due to its superior antibacterial properties. When the Syrian war broke out in 2011, shipments of this soap was impacted and as of today, along with other countless tragedies in war-torn Syria, these legendary soap factories are not able to function.
Soap making in Syria was generational. Recipes and processes were passed down through these families who handmade soap for hundreds of years. Today, nearly all soap making families have fled Syria, leaving behind their long history. For these refugees, starting a new soap business endeavor is difficult in so many ways.
Aleppo soap today –the bad news: France, Japan, UAE, and Arabia have been the primary destination of nearly all Aleppo soap produced in recent decades. Market demand does not just go away even though no one makes this soap in Syria today. The lack of access to this soap even made the headlines in Tokyo, Riyadh, Paris, and Dubai. (That’s how good this soap is). To make a buck, cheap and not-so-cheap fakes are all over the internet. China and India are the source of most purported Aleppo soap today but, it is in no way the real soap. Low quality, spoiled oils, lack of curing and misrepresentations about oil percentages is what you risk with Aleppo soap knockoffs. They are not only a waste of money but worse yet, these fakes can damage your skin and cause severe allergic reactions.
Aleppo soap today – the GOOD news: A few years ago, one of Aleppo’s master soap makers was accepted into Canada’s refugee settlement program. Abdulfatah Sabouni and his family settled in Calgary and with every bit of focus and passion, he was able to start over. His family had been making traditional soaps in Aleppo for generations and now they found a way to do that in a new world. The family last name of Sabouni even means ‘soap maker’ and the joy of being able to keep the family business alive, a sweet reminder of their homeland, has to be fulfilling beyond words.
We are deeply honored to partner with Abdulfatah and his family and to offer the real, the original, the legendary Aleppo soap. Once you try it, you will see why the French have been hoarding it. You will see why the palaces in the UAE and Saudi Arabia covet it, and you will see why it was Cleopatra’s favorite.
How it is made: Olive oil and laurel oil are the fundamental ingredients in making this aged soap. Using the traditional hot process, the mixture of soap is poured into a molding frame and then cooled and dried for five months. Laurel oil is very potent but requires multiple months of curing to become effective. All soaps are hand cut and hand stamped.
Details - Traditional Aleppo soap (Ghar) is made by the "hot process". First, the olive oil is brought into a large, in-ground vat along with water and lye. Underneath the vat, there is an underground fire which heats the contents to a boil. Boiling lasts three days while the oil reacts with the lye and water to become a thick liquid soap.
The laurel oil is added at the end of the process, and after it is mixed in, the mix is taken from the vat and poured over a large sheet of waxed paper on the floor of the factory. At this point the soap is a large, green, flat mass, and it is allowed to cool down and harden for about a day. While the soap is cooling, workers with planks of wood strapped to their feet walk over the soap to try to smooth out the batch and make it an even thickness.
The soap is then cut in cubes. The cubes of soap are stacked in staggered cylinders to allow maximum air exposure. Once they have dried sufficiently, they are put into a special subterranean chamber to be aged for six months to a year. While it is aging, the soap goes through several chemical changes. The free alkaline content of the soap (the alkaline which did not react with the oil during saponification) breaks down upon slow reaction with air. The moisture content of the soap is also reduced, making the soap hard and long lasting. And lastly, the color of the outside of the soap turns a pale gold, while the inside remains green.
Recommended by dermatologists, it is suitable for all skin types, whether healthy or problematic. Aleppo soap can help relieve itching for those suffering from psoriasis, acne, dandruff, and eczema.
Because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties, Aleppo soap is good for treating skin infections and for healing insect bites and cuts.
I use it as shaving cream, a face mask, shampoo, and a face and body wash. It does it all. It seems unbelievable but, it is a real as its long, rich history.