One cannot imagine a bar or bottle of soap not being a permanent resident of our toilette. The fragrant smell of a soap after a bath assures one of cleanliness and hygiene. This act is considered an essential part of our daily routine today.
However, this was not the case always. The first evidence of soap goes back 5000 years. It was primarily used for cleaning wool and cotton in the textile industry and for treating skin diseases. A soap-like material was found in clay cylinders during the excavation of ancient Babylon, showing that soap making was known as early as 2800 BCE.
The Babylonians, Egyptians, Phoenicians and Celts mixed animal and vegetable oils with ash or alkaline salts to make soap. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BCE. The early Greeks bathed for aesthetic reasons and apparently did not use soap. Pliny the Elder stated that soaps were fit for just Gaulish men. Instead, the Greeks cleaned their bodies with blocks of clay, sand, pumice and ashes, then anointed themselves with oil, and scraped off the oil and dirt with an instrument known as a strigil.
As the Roman civilization advanced, large community baths were set up and bathing was a very popular activity. By the second century AD, the Greek physician, Galen, had recommended soap for both medicinal and cleansing purposes. After the fall of Rome in 467 AD, bathing and cleanliness became unpopular and was a major contributing factor for the ‘Black Death’ during the Middle Ages. It wasn't until the 17th century that cleanliness and bathing came back in fashion in most of Europe.
Daily bathing was a common practice in India, Japan and many South east Asian nations. Until the Industrial Revolution, soap making was conducted on a small scale and the product was rough. James Keir established the first soap manufacturing units using alkali from sulphates of potash and soda in 1780. There after many innovators started producing soap on a large scale. Prominent names were Andrew Pears, Robert Spear Hudson and William Hesketh Lever and his brother James, who, later, went on to establish the company known as Unilever today.
Indians have always been meticulous regarding personal hygiene. The ancients used a mixture of fuller’s earth or multani mitti and products like reetha to create the foaming surfactant effect. In modern times, the Tatas are credited with producing the first soap, made with coconut oil, on a mass scale.
With the introduction of liquid and powder soap, the modern day soap market abounds in varieties ranging from herbal to a variety of chemical based products. If you swear by organic stuff, visit craftsvilla.com for organic soaps which are very popular today. For infants and people with sensitive skin, special mild soaps that ensure no tearing or prevent allergic reactions and rashes, are also available online.
The online market for soaps is blooming. Visit craftsvilla to choose from a wide range of organic soaps the perfect soaps that keeps you fragrant, clean and germ free throughout the day.