Big blocks of olive oil based Savon de Marseille soap have been crafted in the South of France since the middle ages. In 1688, Louis XIV – the Sun King himself, passed a law that only soaps made according to strict, ancient methods could bear the famous mark “Savon de Marseille.”
The authentic Marseille soap is 100 % natural, made with vegetable oils such as olive oil. No animal fats, no colouring and no artificial additives. It must contain a minimum of 72% oil with the percentage stamped on each bar of soap. The soap is also stamped with its weight in grams. This ancient practice allowed households to compare prices and plan their supplies.
The Making of an Iconic Soap
It takes around two weeks to process Savon de Marseille and a month before the soap is ready for sale. First, oil and soda are mixed in a large cauldron and cooked at 120 degrees Celsius for eight to ten days. The long boiling process means the finished soap bars can be kept for years without going off.
The mixture is washed several times in salt water to eliminate the soda, tipped into huge moulds and left to set for two days at 50 to 60 degrees Celsius. It’s then cut into cube-shaped blocks and set out in a well-aired place to dry completely. The soap is turned from time to time to expose each of the six sides to the air.
Enthusiasts claim that the combination of Marseille’s fierce sun, Mistral wind and salty sea air contribute to the soap’s distinctive style. The characteristic white bloom on the finished soap is a faint residue of sea salt and soon washes off.
Proud of their heritage and legacy, there are now only a handful of manufacturers in Marseille who still make the soap using these traditional methods. See a video of where our Savon de Marseille soaps are created.
Why Is Savon de Marseille so Special?
Savon de Marseille is totally biodegradable and requires very little packaging. The purity and simplicity of this iconic soap means it is both ecological and economical. Marseille Soap is recommended by dermatologists throughout the world for people with skin allergies. It’s also perfect for dry or sensitive skin.
Apart from being exquisite, ultra-moisturizing skin care, it’s also found in many French laundries. It is the perfect environmentally friendly stain remover. Just rub a little on the stain with some water, leave to sit for a few minutes and put the item in the wash. The soap is also perfect for washing silk and other delicate fabrics.
A folk remedy even claims that placing a bar of Marseille soap at the foot of your bed helps alleviate rheumatic pain.
In France, Savon de Marseille soaps have been trusted for generations to cleanse everything from linens to little faces. French Affair are proud to stock authentic Savon de Marseille soaps in our online shop.