The soap is one of the most popular personal care products. Its formula contains different fats and active ingredients, which combined with water, form a lather dissolving unseen dirt and germs on the skin.
There is scientific evidence that the inhabitants of ancient Babylon and ancient Egypt were the first to produce soaps more than 5000 years ago. They used to prepare a mixture of water, alkali salts, wood ash and cassia oil or animal fat. It was stored in clay vessels and used for textile cleaning and for the treatment of skin diseases.
The word "soap" appeared for the first time in the eternal encyclopedia "Natural History" of the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder in the 1st century BC. One of the hypotheses for the term’s origin is associated with Mount Sapo, where animal sacrifices were performed, and the remains were converted in a homogeneous mixture. But since there is no real evidence for the existence of such a place, it is assumed that “soap” derives from the Latin word "sapo".
Soap and its derivatives took place in hygiene habits of almost all ancient civilizations. Usually, the formula contained vegetable and animal fat, ash, herbs and various extracts. Many scientists described soap production and use, recommending it for medical and cleaning purposes.
During the 6th – 10th centuries, Italy, Spain and France became leaders in the manufacturing of soaps, especially for the needs of the Royal Court. During the 12th – 13th centuries, the product was widely used in households in England and in the Islamic world. Several centuries later, soaps with finer formulas containing mostly vegetable oils, were produced.
The production of soap in some countries was heavily taxed during the 17th – 19th centuries. It led to some restrictions and illegal trade. Meanwhile, several significant discoveries were made and they changed soap’s formula revolutionary. Industrially manufactured soaps first became available in the late 18th century, when the relationship between cleanliness and health was widely promoted.
In 1850, the soap production became one of the fastest developing productions in America. This required the development of a variety of formulas for different purposes. Soapmaking started to rely on the chemical industry, too. Actually, the progress of synthetic technology made a great breakthrough in it. In 1865, William Shepherd patented the liquid soap. In the next decades several soapmaking factories were founded and strengthened their positions.
The modern commercial formula of soap appeared only during the Second World War, when faster and more convenient production methods were introduced. Today, the market offers different kinds of soaps, adapted to the specific features of the skin and enriched with plenty of healthy ingredients. One of the most popular soaps in the world is the Castile soap, which consists almost entirely of olive oil.