History of the Soap
The ancient Sumerians were the first people who discovered how to make soap. They already had substantiated knowledge of chemistry and knew about the alkaline effect of burnt plant ash (soda). In connection with vegetable oil and lye, the first soap was only a paste (soft soap) used for healing. The Egyptians and Romans enhanced the creamy soap and also used it for cleaning.
History of the Aleppo-Soap
In Aleppo, the recipe was improved in the 7th century AD and the technique of soap making was developed. Vegetable oils (mainly olive and laurel oil) were cooked with lye and thus the first solid soaps used for personal hygiene and cleaning were produced. This technique of soap making spread from Syria to Europe (Genoa and Marseille). Today, it is known all over the world.
Recipe and Production Process of the Aleppo-Soap
In Aleppo, the olive oil, which is the main component of the soap, and the sodium hydoxide are stirred and cooked (200° C) until the olive oil is turned completely into glycerol and sodium salt. Shortly before the saponification process ends, precious laurel oil is added, which makes the Aleppo-Soap antiseptic. The lye is discharged and the soap mixture is washed out with fresh water until it is completely free of lye. Over night, the soap mixture is left to dehydrate and cool off. The paste is then spread over the ground, cut into cubloids by hand and stamped with the name of the producer and the quality. (approx. 6 min. documentary...) During the maturing process, the olive green blokcs are stacked and then left to dry in ventilated rooms for 6 to 9 moths.
While drying, the Aleppo-Soap develops its well known ocher patina on the surface, on the inside remaining its olive green colour: an indication for the important vitamin E concentration of the original Aleppo-Soap. Traditionally, the olive soaps are produced during the "cold season" between Nomvember and March and are dried out afterwards until the final maturation.