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Colonial Soapmaking

What is lye soap? Today, soap is a very common product that is found in every household. Readily available in both commercial and handmade form, most would not even consider doing without this essential product. For many, soap is simply purchased without the full understanding and appreciation of it's history. To understand it's origin is to appreciate the current product and forever realize the true art that surrounds handmade soap.

Though today considered more as a luxury, handmade soap was a plentiful and necessary skill during colonial days. Produced using wood ash, lye and fats, colonial soapmaking is eternally encased in America's history. Although the first soap cannot actually be documented, it is known that the Babylonians were producing handmade soap during 2800 B.C. During this time, soap was being used primarily for the cleaning of wool and cotton while preparing to weave it into cloth.

Colonial soapmaking was often linked to superstitions with many believing that certain celestial patterns were necessary for good soapmaking. It was superstitions such as these that were thought to have caused either success or failure when, in actuality, the lack of an understanding for the actual chemical process and the inability to obtain certain ingredients was the primary cause of difficulty in colonial soapmaking.

In later times, the art of making natural soap became well established and many crafters quickly became experts by gaining a better understanding of the process. Despite the new wave of experts, called soapboilers, many continued to make their own homemade soap well into the 19th century. By the end of the century, the business of making handmade soap became easier and the finalized products were more readily available. Bathing became very popular and the overall use of soap increased dramatically. It's not that bathing was not popular before - it was. Many used soap for personal washing, while others preferred to cover their body with heavy scents instead. After becoming more accessible and bathing facilities modernized, the art of soapmaking quickly grew from a craft to a successful and ever-growing industry.

The craft of making soap is a true art form and those who create it are nothing short of artists. The perfect mix of ingredients often provide a combination of pleasing scents and moisturizer for the skin. Commercial soaps often contain harsh ingredients that strip the skin of it's natural moisture, while handmade soap works to restore it. The next time that you purchase handmade soap, take a moment to think about the centuries that it took to perfect this art and the true dedication of each artisan who is responsible for creating it.

The author of this article is Cynthia Mattison for thesoapguy.com. This article is the full and absolute copyright property of the thesoapguy.com. It may be reprinted in its' entirety with all links and complete author information in tact. Buy your wholesale handmade soap here Wholesale Soap

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