~ About Soap ~
Castile soap is a name used in English-speaking countries for olive oil based soap made in a style similar to that originating in the Castile region of Spain. Soap is a mixture of astringents or alkaline chemicals suspended in a waxy or fatty substance. Early soaps were semisolid affairs with a texture similar to butter or shortening. The word "soap" comes from Latin and is associated with the Roman legend of Mount Sapo. A fire had burned the woods and the ashes were washed downstream. When the ashes mixed with animal tallow and clay from the riverbanks, it formed a naturally occurring "soap" that made doing laundry in the Tiber River much easier than in other rivers.
~ A Little History ~
Ancient Egyptian sources describe mixing animal fat, vegetable oil and watered wood ashes to make a substance used to treat skin afflictions and to remove ground-in dirt from the hands. Cake soap, or hardened blocks of soap, were not introduced into European and American society until the 17th century when soap making became a thriving trade. Lye, an alkaline substance extracted from the ashes of some barks, was mixed with animal tallow to make soap. Oils and musks were added to make the soap--and the user--smell better.