Our fascination with soap has many facets
The Speick Naturkosmetik success story starts with our Speick soap – which is still our signature product more than 90 years after the company’s founding. It is and always will be our calling card, with its characteristic colour and unique, familiar scent. For some of our older customers, our soaps even take them back to their childhoods – while younger customers simply associate them with a special sense of well-being. You can literally feel the goodness you are doing to your body.
The more you learn about the topic of soap, the clearer it becomes: soap is a source of fascination in all its senses – its history, its production, its ability to care and to clean. We would like to share our passion for soap with you, so we’ve compiled a compact overview on the topic for you here.
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A fascinating history of soap
It’s hard to believe, but soap has been around for thousands of years! The oldest soap recipes – recorded on clay slate by the ancient Sumerians – date from as early the 4th century BC. Germanic peoples and Celts also knew and used soap. However, soap back then was not the same as we know it today. The old recipes comprised a mixture of potash and tallow – this type of soap was used as a hair pomade, for washing textiles and to treat injuries.
The Greeks and Egyptians further developed the soap recipes known at the time in order to increase their cleaning power. However, it was the Romans who first used soap for body care. Soap was widespread in the Roman baths.
The origins of soap as we know it today stem from the 7th century AD, when the Arabs began cooking fat and lye. This development
also led to the cleaning, nourishing soap massages that we Europeans enjoy to this day – known from the oriental spas, the Hammams.
With the spread of Islam, the art of soap making made its way to Central Europe. Charlemagne (747–814) play a key role in promoting the emerging soap making trade. Spain, France and Italy developed into centres of soap making. From the 9th century AD, the French city of Marseille became a true stronghold of soap production.
It was also in France where people eventually began refining soap and adding fragrances such as lavender. This refinement process marked the birth of fine soap, also known as toilet soap. Fine soap quickly spread to Europe’s royalty – although it was till unattainable for the normal population.
We can also see that Toilet soap was not only used for body hygiene – it was prized to a greater degree for medicinal purposes, and was used for cosmetic uses, including sometimes for shaving. After all, up until around 300 years ago people preferred to powder and perfume themselves rather than washing.
In 1790, the Frenchman Nicolas Leblanc was the first person to succeed in producing soda lye – replacing conventional lye, which up until that point had been obtained by dissolving potash in water at great cost of time and effort. This made soap an affordable product which could be used for regular body hygiene.
Furthermore, the booming textiles industry drove the demand for soap and the widespread introduction of steamships around the year 1900 made soap accessible for the wider population. The fat raw materials required for soap production could then be imported at low cost. This paved the way for industrial soap production.
Today, genuine, high-quality soaps are an absolute rarity. However, they are currently experiencing an enormous upsurge in popularity, not least due to their excellent environmental friendliness. For us, the same principle held true then as it does now: soap is the best thing for cleaning and nourishing healthy skin. The craft of soap making remains a key skill and enables us to offer a broad, high-quality range of soaps. All of our soaps are made by Speick Naturkosmetik with our own recipes in a traditional boiling process.
In simplified terms, the soap production process can be broken down into the following five stages. There are many small and large steps required before we can hold a genuine bar of Speick soap in our hands.
In simple terms, soap is made through a reaction of lye (for solid soap this is soda lye) and fat/oil (e.g. palm oil, coconut oil, beef tallow). These are saponified by heating them in a large boiler. This produces a stock which is boiled (i.e. “Washed”) in order to separate the excess lye and unsaponified fats from the soap.
The soap boiling process can take up to five days and produces a thick, liquid soap, which is then dried. The water is extracted, and you are left with solid soap noodles – which is the name for the slivers of soap. These soap noodles are the basic raw material used for the further processing of the soap, which is manufactured according the traditional formulas of Speick Naturkosmetik.
The soap noodles are ground and can be enhanced with high-quality oils, moisturising substances, natural colourants and perfumes. For this, the noodles and the additives and heated, blended and shredded – this process is known as piling and ensures that all components coalesce homogeneously.
The resulting, clay-like mass is pressed in a vacuum at high pressure through a small opening, producing an endless strand of soap. This strand is still warm and soft – so it is easy to cut into small pieces These are either used as the final soap form (such as for our hair soap or Organic 3.0 soap) or pressed into a bar of soap by a shaping press (such as our Speick soap).
The soap cools off on its way to be packaged – and is then packaged in boxes, cellulose film or placed “naked” in the display ready for sale.
Master of all trades – unique cleaning and care
Soap is a true master of all trades – be it a “normal” bar of soap, hair soap or a special facial soap. Every bar of soap can be used for the benefit of the entire body and delivers its unique cleaning and nourishing effect wherever it is needed – whether than be on the hands, feet, body or face.
• Soaps from Speick Naturkosmetik have a particularly gentle cleaning effect on the skin.
• They care for the skin directly during washing and support it in its natural functions - due to the saponified oils and fats, the contained additives or the contained wax cream.
• Soaps from Speick Naturkosmetik are alkaline and increase the skin’s moisture balance.
• They can be used to clean the entire body, including the face.
• Bacteria fundamentally have no chance to adhere to genuine soap.
• Soaps are highly ecologically compatible and highly biodegradable.
• Soaps are very economical to use.
• Soaps are produced with very little use of resources, with almost no waste.