When it comes to Your Soap, Ingredients Matter

Soap and its ingredients have evolved over centuries where the first soap solution was produced in 3,000 B.C. - 2,800 B.C. We explore interesting moments in the history of soap:

Ingredients in Soap in History

3,000 B.C. - 2,800 B.C.
By combining an alkali (in this case, the ashes from plants) with boiling fats and oils, the ancient Babylonians and the Sumerians used this soap solution as a laundry soap that removed grease from cloth but not for personal hygiene.
1,550 B.C.
According to the Ebers papyrus (an important medical papyri of ancient Egypt), soap was recommended to be used to treat sores and skin diseases as well as general washing. It was made by combining alkaline salts with animal and vegetable oil.
618–907 A.D
In the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese used a soap substance (called a bath bean) made from beans from a soapbean tree with flour, minerals, and perfume. It was effective for different kinds of cleaning and its prescriptions were kept by apothecaries.

Ingredients in Soap Today

Soap rose to widespread use during the industrial revolution due to development of cheap raw chemical materials and strong marketing from brands such as Procter & Gamble.
Interestingly, the fundamental ingredients of soap have remained the same using the combination of an alkali with water and fat/oil. However, common bar and liquid soaps today usually also contain high amounts of synthetic chemicals due to preservatives and fragrance. 
Today, with the variety of soaps available, consumers have the choice to also choose natural products. These soaps may contain fewer or no chemicals with plant-based essential oils, and/or natural oil bases. Some natural oil bases used in soap are:
Coconut oil
This oil base enhances the cleansing ability of soap while creating lots of bubbles. However, it can be drying to the skin and therefore may not be appropriate to use on the face.
Avocado oil
This oil has moisturising, creamy, and non-allergic properties making it fitting for anyone but especially those with skin issues, as well as sensitive or dry skin.
Olive oil
Olive oil is also moisturising but is lighter than avocado oil. It contains high amounts of vitamin E giving it an anti-aging quality. When used in soap, olive oil should always be combined with other oils giving it a rich soapy feel.
Interested to understand ingredients in common soap? Read our Understanding Ingredients in Our Well-loved Products
Want to try some of our natural oil bases? For:
Coconut oil – try our Ginnie Bottle laundry soap (send us a message)
Avocado oil – try our Hair-to-toe Avo Bomb
Olive oil – try our Milky Chamomile
  • Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty by Charles D. Benn
  • The American Cleaning Institute
  • The Discovery Channel
  • livestrong.com