Soap is something we use every day, but few people actually know what it is. Well. It’s simply the product of the chemical reaction between an acid (oil, butter, fat) and a base (sodium or potassium hydroxide) that produces soap and glycerin.
The first written traces of soap date back 5000 years to Mesopotamia, when wool producers realised that the natural oils in sheep’s wool (lanolin) combined with ash produced a cleansing substance. (find out more here: https://time.com/5831828/soap-origins/)
So that’s all it takes: ashes and oil!
However, that produces an impure soap and since the 19th century and the development of processes to produce sodium hydroxide we have been able to refine the soap making process.
Today, we also have a multitude of oils, fats and butters at our disposal enabling us to produce all sorts of different soap…that will be the subject of a future article!