TheAleppo soap, Also known aslaurel soap, Syrian soap or savon d’Alep, is a soap hard produced similarly to Castile soap, from which it is distinguished by the addition of laurel.
The origin of theAleppo soapit is so remote that it is difficult to spot. TheAleppo soapit had been known since the time of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and the Syrian queen Zenobia.
TheAleppo soapwas exported to Europe after the first crusades although our ancestorsRomansthey already knew how to produce soap since the first century AD. and moving to Greece, Zosimus of Panopolis described the saponification process as early as 300 AD. Today, theAleppo soaphas not lost its popularity and from the Levante region (where this soap was born) it is still exported to Europe and East Asia, in particular we talk about theAleppo soapwhich contains more than 16% laurel oil.
The production process of Aleppo soap
TheAleppo soapor Ghar soap, is made with ahot manufacturing process. Traditional production sees the oil poured into an underground vat (see photo below) with the addition of water and lye. The hot process begins in the tank: under the tank there is a firebox capable of heating and boiling the mixture.
Boiling lasts for three days during which the oil reacts with the lye and the water evaporates slowly, producing a very thick liquid soap.
L'laurel, with its beneficial properties, is added only at the end of the process and, after mixing it at best, the Aleppo soap still liquid is transferred onto a large sheet of paper placed on a floor. It is here that the Aleppo soap it takes its shape in a square or rectangular tablet. Before cutting, the Aleppo soap it is left to cool and harden for a few days. In tradition, while the Aleppo soap it cooled, the "soap makers" to spread it out at best walked on it wearing, instead of shoes, flat boards to make the thickness as uniform as possible.
The production process of Aleppo soap does not end with the cut (the handcrafted soap is cut by hand, with a rudimentary rake), each bar of soap is hot stamped and arranged to form a large grid to maximize exposure to the air. After a short period of hardening, the cubes ofAleppo soapthey are transferred to special underground chambers (similar to moisture-free cellars) to age. The aging ofAleppo soaplasts from six months to a year.
Although this process is very fascinating, today, few Aleppo soap makers respect the tradition. Modern Aleppo soaps are produced with a cold process, contain olive oil and a minimal percentage of laurel oil. They are often enriched with other herbs and essential oils and have spread many forms ofsoapliquid improperly called from Aleppo: the Aleppo soap is by definition a solid bar of soap! Production doesliquid Aleppo soapallows for easier addition of other useful skin care ingredients.
Aleppo soap, properties and uses
For the benefits on the skin, the uses of Aleppo soap against hair loss, to combat acne and for skin care, I refer you to the article:Aleppo Soap Uses and Properties.
How to make Aleppo soap at home
The Aleppo soap it is produced from oil and lye, just like Castile soap, with the variant that the Aleppo soap recipe also includes laurel leaves and extracts. When we talk about homemade soap, we refer to Castile soap, Marseille soap or Aleppo soap. Let's see the variations of these three recipes:
- Castile soap is made with olive oil and sifted ash. For further information: how to make soap at home.
- The Marseille soap recipe involves the use of caustic soda. For further information,DIY Marseille soap.
- The Aleppo soap recipe sees the addition of bay leaves as explained in the paragraph dedicated to the history and production process.
Why is it important to age homemade soap?
In the artisanal production ofAleppo soap, especially if you follow the hot process described above, the aging phase is essential to give the final product all itsproperty beneficial. As soap “ages” it undergoes a series of chemical changes, first of all that of the pH. The alkaline content of the soap, which has not reacted with the oil during the saponification process, is released into the air very slowly. During aging, the moisture content of the soap is reduced, making it more durable over time. A well “seasoned” Aleppo soap is distinguished from its exterior: the most superficial layer takes on a characteristic colorpale gold while the inner layers remain green.
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In the photo above, a Syrian handcrafted Aleppo soap cube. In the photo in the center, the underground tank for the production of Aleppo soap in the Al-Jebeili factory, Aleppo, Syria. In the photo below, still in the same Syrian factory, the soap is cooling down.