Being called "The People's Soap Company" is something I take seriously -- I have a passion for current events, community and civics!
The Syrian Connection
A while back, I saw reference in a soapmaker's online forum to "Aleppo Soap." I hadn't seen much about it, but the name struck me. Aleppo is the capital of Syria, an ancient nation that has been decimated and ravaged by civil war -- including the city of Aleppo's 50+ soapmaking factories.
When I heard about "Aleppo Soap," I was shocked to discover this connection I had never known - a connection we all share to our ancient predecessors.
The Birthplace of Soap
Syria, more specifically the city of Aleppo, is considered the origin of humankind's first soaps. Some of Syria's modern soapmakers carry down family recipes that span generations. Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra preferred her soap from Aleppo.
During the Crusades, Aleppo Soap was introduced to Europe, where it inspired the first French Marseille castile soap.
What is Aleppo Soap?
"Aleppo Soap" is an incredible blend of gentleness and anti-inflammatory properties ideal for many skin types. It is a castile soap, made with olive oil and laurel berry (or seed) oil. Laurel seed oil is a pressing extract from laurel berries, and naturally contains about 1% laurel bay essential oil, but no essential oils are added or needed.
Laurel adorns Greek Gods in ancient tile mosaics and paintings, and has long been a celebrated plant - for good reason. Laurel oil contains many antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory skin benefits.
I love this description from Mother Nature Network: "The olive oil acts as a moisturizer and the laurel oil as a cleanser. Together, they can help to calm inflammation, irritation and redness. Some say that using laurel oil can help treat and manage skin conditions like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and acne. Indeed, Aleppo soap is often tolerated by those with even the most sensitive skin."
My Task: Make Aleppo Soap
Once I learned the tremendous history behind Aleppo Soap, I wanted to put my soapmaking skills to work!
I am preparing a recipe inspired by Hassan Harastani, a Syrian artisanal soapmaker who relocated to Paris during the war, and now runs a soap factory on the outskirts of Paris.
While Laurel percentages range from 4%-40%, and most are typically within the 10%-20% range, Hassan's soaps are 25% Laurel.
Hassan's Aleppo Soap Recipe
(Written here in percentages; please use a Soap Calculator to find your exact weights.)
25% Laurel Berry Oil (I found a U.S. supplier here)
75% Olive Pomace Oil (pomace will give a darker green color)
2.1:1 Water:Lye Ratio (a steep discount can help shorten the cure)
Cure time: 6 months+
While my Laurel Berry Oil ships over, I'm eagerly awaiting my Aleppo experiment and look forward to sharing the results!
With love and suds,