Soap And Natural Soaps
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Soap is a salt, a compound of fatty acid with an alkali, soda, or potash. The Hebrew borith, translated soap, is merely a general term for cleaning substances. Pliny declares soap to be an invention of the Gauls, though he preferred the German to the Gallic soap. In remote periods clothes were cleansed by being rubbed or stamped upon in water. Homer tells us that Nausicaa and her attend-ants washed clothes by treading upon them with their feet in pits of water. The Roman's used fuller's earth. Savon, the French word for soap, is ascribed to its having been manufactured at Savona, near Genoa. The manufacture of soap began in London in 1524, before which time it was supplied by Bristol at one penny per pound.
Natural Soaps - From time immemorial the Egyptian soaproot and the Spanish soaproot have been employed for washing in Southern Europe and Egypt, and are, to some extent, exported for use in cleansing fine articles. In the West Indies and South America, a pulpy fruit, which grows on a tree known as the soap-tree, is said to have such cleansing properties that it will clean as much linen as sixty times its weight of manufactured soap. There is also a tree iii Peru, Quillaja Saponaria, whose bark, in infusion, yields a soapy liquid much valued for washing woolens, and is largely imported to England and other countries for this purpose. The juice of the soap-wort, or, as it is commonly called in the United States and Great Britain, the "Bouncing Bet," strongly possesses the saponaceous qualities. In California the roots of the Phelangium Pomaridianum, which grows there abundantly, are much used for washing. This plant has a strong odor of brown soap in its leaves and stems, as well as the roots. The South Sea Islands and the islands of the Caribbean Sea also produce plants which are used as soap substitutes.