Speick Blog

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 95 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

The first ever soap recipes

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.

Further development in the Middle East

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.

The creation of refined, fine soap in France

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.

Industrial soap production

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.

Soap making today

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.

Soap production

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.

1. Saponification process

In simple terms, soap is formed by a reaction of lye and fat. In the case of solid soaps, this is a mixture of caustic soda and fat or oil (e.g. coconut oil, palm oil, beef tallow or olive oil). The raw materials are boiled in a large kettle with the addition of heat; this process is called saponification. During this process, the fatty acids from the fat react with the lye and so-called fatty acid salts are formed, i.e. the soap. Our soaps are made according to our own recipe for optimal soap quality.

2. From soap boiling to soap noodles

This process of soap boiling can take several days and leads to a viscous mass/soap mass, which is subsequently dried. During this process, the water is removed from the consistency and solid soap noodles or also called soap shavings are formed. The soap noodles are the basic raw material for the further processing of the soap.

3. The piling process

The soap noodles are ground and can now be mixed/blended with high quality oils, refatting raw materials, natural colors, perfume, plant extracts and special ingredients. This mixture is then rotated through a large heated large pore sieve. This process is called piling. Here, under pressure and heat, all the components combine homogeneously.

4. From an endless soap strand to little pieces

The resulting solid, knead-like mass is pressed through a perforated screen under high pressure. A narrow tapered piece of pipe placed in front of it, forms the individual smallest strands into a compact strand, so that an endless soap strand is created. This strand is still warm and soft - and can thus be easily divided into smaller sections. These either remain as final bars of soap (as for example our Hair Soap or Organic 3.0 Soap) or they are pressed by a specially made mold to a bar of soap, as for example our Speick Soap and thus get their appearance.

5. Cooling off and packaging

On its way to packaging, the soap cools down - before it is packed in folding boxes, banderoles, cellulose film or naked in the display.

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.

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