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Savon de Marseilles: Soap of the Past...and the Future?

Updated: 3 days ago

A French Treasure 

The South of France is home to many things, but one of its most noteworthy is making a come-back. Savon de Marseille is an oil-based soap that is crafted using ancient methods. Only a few Savonneries (soap factories) near Marseille continue to produce authentic Savon de Marseille. As the French treasure transcends borders in today’s world, it is captivating the world with its unique and positive qualities. 

Artisanal Beauty

Savon de Marseille, as a title, is difficult to obtain for a soap product. Laws to protect its authenticity were passed in 1688, establishing specific guidelines for production. Savon de Marseille undergoes a meticulous two-week production process. A Maître de Savon (Soap Master) oversees this process. 

To create the exquisite soap product, a series of ingredients are combined. Olive and vegetable oils, alkaline ash from sea plants, and Mediterranean Sea-salted water are all blended. This mixture simmers for ten days in ancient cauldrons, before being poured to harden. The soap is then cut into cubes, stamped with its weight, and dried under the sun and mistral winds. These winds are strong, cold, northwestern winds that blows through the Rhône Valley in the winter. There are two major varieties of the famous soap. One is a green soap, which features at least 50% olive oil. The other is white, made of mostly with palm oils. 

One mark of the soap’s authenticity is a fine white power on the surface. This powder is a residue of the sea salt and will dissolve when the soap contacts water. The quality and longevity of the soap is heightened by extended drying and hardening periods. Fresh Savon de Marseille is slimy and moist and will easily come apart. 

Modern-Day Revival

Across the globe, Savon de Marseille is gaining praise for its purity and moisturizing prosperities. It is often hailed as a solution for dry and sensitive skins. For centuries, the French have used Savon de Marseille for washing infants and laundry, as it is one of the purest soaps available. As the soap’s popularity explodes around the globe, its lack of harsh chemical and artificial additives has made it marketable as a natural product. 

Savon de Marseille has also garnered support for its environmentally conscious production. The soap is biodegradable and doesn’t require extensive plastic packaging. As a shift towards environmentally conscious purchasing continues, Savon de Marseille is gaining traction for its artisanal nature. It additionally attracts consumers looking for authentic, and hand-made products. As the world reawakens to the charm and efficacy of this legendary soap, the tradition of Savon de Marseille continues to inspire and delight a global audience, celebrating both natural beauty and conscious living.

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence, College Intern

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