Castile soap is an all-natural, nontoxic, biodegradable soap with loads of uses in both its liquid and bar forms. Below we’ve put together some info on its surprisingly interesting history and all the ways you can use it.
A History of Castile Soap
Current evidence suggests that soap has been around since 2,800BC, when the Babylonians relied on soap made from fats boiled with ashes to clean their manufacturing textiles. Soap recipes were passed down through civilizations, and the ancient Egyptians and Romans made their own soap using fats from cows and sheep.
This smelly goop didn’t come close to resembling our modern concept of soap until it reached the city of Aleppo, Syria at some point in the Middle Ages. Aleppo soap, or laurel soap is thought to be the first hard bar soap, and was made from just olive oil, laurel oil and lye. The Crusaders brought the revolutionary green soap bar back to Europe, and it quickly became a luxury item that transformed the personal hygiene of the privileged classes.
Soon European soap makers in France, Spain and Italy were scrambling to replicate the soap as best as they could. One soap from the central Spanish region of Castile, managed to distinguish itself from the other early European soaps through its high quality and exceptional ability to clean. Since the region had an abundance of olive oil, local soap makers replaced laurel oil from the original Aleppo soap recipe with even more olive oil to create the mild, white Castile soap. It became extremely popular with Spanish royalty, and later with other European royal houses due to the soap not losing its potency or pure white composition with age.
Centuries later, Castile soap remains a popular option for those looking for a natural and biodegradable soap!
Castile soap is a type of surfactant, meaning it removes germs and bacteria, as well as all types of dirt and grease off any surface – washing the surface rather than killing everything on it. It’s gentle on people, animals, and the environment. Castile soap registers at about 8.9 on the pH scale - around the same level as baking soda and slightly more alkaline than mild dish soap, although less alkaline than bleach or corrosive tile cleaners. It’s a baance that makes it effective yet gentle and is a large part of the reason it has a myriad of uses, including the following for the liquid form according to the article linked in the subheading:
1. All-purpose cleaning spray – add 40ml Castile soap into a 1L bottle of water (optional: add your favourite essential oil).
2. All-purpose scouring paste – mix 1 part each of water and Castile soap to 7 parts baking soda, stir until the mixture has the consistency of whipped cream. Use to clean tubs, toilets, sinks, and to tackle mould and mildew.
3. Clean makeup brushes – add a few drops of Castile soap into a cup of warm water
4. Clean floors – add a squirt of Castile soap into a bucketful of water.
5. Wash the car – add a squirt of Castile soap into a bucketful of water.
6. Wash the dog – add a squirt of Castile soap into a bucketful of warm water.
7. Hand wash – pour one part soap to three parts water into a pump soap dispenser. (The SESI Castile soap we have in store hasn’t been tested for human skin so we can’t recommend it as a shampoo or body wash – although these uses for Castile soap are well documented for general purposes!).
8. Deter ants!
Other uses online describe using Castile soap from anything to mouthwash to a sinus decongestant – although we cannot personally recommend you doing so!
Like with most products, Castile soap comes with its own list of things to bear in mind which you can make yourself aware of by reading https://www.thekitchn.com/castile-soap-things-to-avoid-23004443
Castile Soap, everyone!