Soap is made from fats or oils that have remarkable diversity. Soap is almost as culturally different as food is. Yes soap can be fragranced different with essential oils or other scents. But the real difference comes from the fats that make up the soap. What is soap made of depends on what the soap maker has on hand.
I saw an article online a while ago about a soap making factory in Syria. Of course Syria has been in the news the last few years because of the devastating civil war. But somehow this factory in Syria was still working and churning out thousands of bars of soap. When I think of war zones I don’t really think about the hygiene of those affected. But of course they probably need soap. And then I got thinking about all the varieties of soap around the world and what is soap made of depending on what part of the world you find yourself in.
What is Soap made of depends on the ingredients You Have at your Disposal
Basically all soap can be broken down into 3 ingredients:
After that we can get cute and add fragrances or oils to make it smell better or to give the soap a different feeling when and after we use it. The only reason soaps have so much variety is because of the different oils or fats that we use to react with the lye.
Soaps Around the World
This factory in the Syrian article I mentioned above said the soap they were making was an olive oil soap. In the comments below the article someone had written that it was the best soap that they had ever used. Another commenter asked what is soap made of in Syria. Another answered that it normally isn’t scented but other than the olive oil it sometimes includes herbs, leaves, or light perfume, depending on the different recipes.
Apparently Mediterranean soap leaves the skin clean and soft. That does sound a lot like the natural homemade soap we believe in around here. And doing a little research online apparently this variety of soap can be found all around the Mediterranean. I assume that most are made with olive oil and that is one of my favorite oils to use.
I understand that food is different around the world. There have been thousands of years for people to cultivate and develop their own types of agriculture and cooking type. That is one of the reasons that makes travel so fascinating. No matter how good our importers are, and they are very good, we simply can’t buy the food as it is in other countries. Coke is different around the world. That was a surprise for me as well. But apparently the Russians like their Coke a little more bitter than we like it here in the States. But this would go back to a culture’s palate and different taste preferences. But I guess I didn’t realize that soap would still be different until I realize that of course it would be different because the soap making materials are different around the world.
Lifebuoy is an English soap that has been around longer than a century. It was even the best selling medicated/health soap in North America until roughly 1951.
Russians will use Birch tar soap that contains up to 10% of birch tar. Apparently it can be used for rashes and other skin issues.
Chandrika Ayurvedic Soap is a popular soap in India. But the basic fat that is used is coconut oil
In Syria they would have access to olive oil. So olive oil would make sense to use for everything they possibly could. Palm and coconut oil soaps would be found in the more tropical areas of the world. Goat milk and Bovine Colostrum soap I think of being from Australia and New Zealand or somewhere that there will be a lot of livestock. There are great reviews for Nigerian soaps made from shea butter and camwood.
In short, soap is as different as the people that make it. Soap can be as different and diverse as different types of food. That is what makes different soaps so fun to try and enjoy.