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Old 12-31-2005, 09:43 AM
Plinth percher Plinth percher is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 38
What did people use before soap?

Not on their bodies, which I just assume stank.
But for cleaning things.
Did they have lye during the great Greek period?
Old 12-31-2005, 10:04 AM
Sattua Sattua is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Close to home
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I am absolutely sure that a very well-informed person is going to come in here and give you a full answer, but just to tide you over: lye and soap are quite old discoveries. I doubt that there is a time in recorded history when they didn't exist.
Old 12-31-2005, 10:19 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Several herbs have been used for their foaming and cleansing abilities, most notably soapwort.
Old 12-31-2005, 10:24 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Several herbs have been used for their foaming and cleansing abilities, most notably soapwort.
And before we think they were clever back then, I think it should be obvious they merely found this solution because of its name.
Old 12-31-2005, 12:24 PM
boytyperanma boytyperanma is offline
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Location: Leominster MA
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Iread an instructional thing on washing clothing in ancient rome. It was pretty much first wash the clothes in stale urine then cover up the smell with sulfur. I'm glad we havwe soap.
Old 12-31-2005, 12:40 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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From Wiki:
The earliest known evidence of soap use are Babylonian clay cylinders dating from 2800 BC containing a soap-like substance. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.

The Ebers papyrus (Egypt, 1550 BC) indicates that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly and combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance. Egyptian documents mention that a soap-like substance was used in the preparation of wool for weaving.

A soap factory with bars of scented soap was found in the ruins of Pompeii (79 AD). However, the ancient Romans were generally innocent of soap's detergent properties. The word "soap" appears first in a European language in Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis, which discusses the manufacture of soap from tallow and ashes, but the only use he mentions for it is as a pomade for hair; he mentions rather disapprovingly that among the Gauls and Germans men are likelier to use it than women. [1]

The Arabs made the soap from vegetable oil as olive oil or some aromatic oils such as as thyme oil. Sodium Lye (Al-Soda Al-Kawia) NaOH was used for the first time and the formula hasn't changed from the current soap sold in the market. from the beginning of the 7th century soap was made and was produced in Nablus(Palestine), Kufa(Iraq)and Basra(Iraq). Arabian Soap was perfumed and coloured some of the soaps was liquid and other was hard and there was shaving soap. It was commercially sold for 3 Dirhams (0.3 Dinars) apiece in (981 AD).

A story encountered in some places claims that soap takes its name from a supposed "Mount Sapo" where ancient Romans sacrificed animals. Rain would send a mix of animal tallow and wood ash down the mountain and into the clay soil on the banks of the Tiber. Eventually, women noticed that it was easier to clean clothes with this "soap". The location of Mount Sapo is unknown, as is the source of the "ancient Roman legend" to which this tale is typically credited.[2] In fact, the Latin word sapo simply means "soap"; it was borrowed from a Celtic or Germanic language, and is cognate with Latin sebum, "tallow", which appears in Pliny the Elder's account. Roman animal sacrifices usually burned only the bones and inedible entrails of the sacrificed animals; edible meat and fat from the sacrifices were taken by the humans rather than the gods. Animal sacrifices in the ancient world would not have included enough fat to make much soap. The legend about Mount Sapo is probably a hoax.

Historically, soap was made by mixing animal fats with lye. Because of the caustic lye, this was a dangerous procedure (perhaps more dangerous than any present-day home activities) which could result in serious chemical burns or even blindness. Before commercially-produced lye was commonplace, it was produced at home for soap making from the ashes of a wood fire.


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