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Who Invented Soap?

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Every time you take a bath or shower, you use it. Whenever you get your hands dirty, or you want to make sure a cut’s not infected you use it. What is this revolutionary invention that has changed the lives of many? The answer is soap. Soap is used for all sorts of uses and over the years has involved to include many scents, colors, shapes, appearances and has even become an art form. But who is the inventor of soap, that changed hygiene so greatly for the world?

Michel Eugène ChevreulMichel Eugène Chevreul, a brilliant French chemist.

The first soap

The earliest form of soap was created by a French chemist by the name of Michel Eugène Chevreul and he made the first lump of soap in 1811, using fat, glycerin and fatty acids as his ingredients. This is a formulation that is similar to the one that we use today, and while earlier forms of “soap” existed, this version is the one that is used as a model for all modern soaps.

Earlier version of soap

If you wanted to look at a more antiquated version of the invention of soaps, you’d need to go way back to the period of the Babylonians in 2800 BC. In this account of soaps, no real purpose or use for them is given, but a later account from 1500 BC in Egyptian culture shows that there was a soap like substance that they used for washing, but it formed a paste instead of a hand held bar like the kind people use today.

How we got the name “soap”?

So, you know where the invention of soap comes from, and it’s earliest iterations, but what about the meaning of its name? Soap actually comes from the name Mount Sapo, which is a fictional mountain in Italy, where the ash on the mountain was known to have some cleaning properties. The Romans gave soap this name, and used it in many of their infamous bath-homes. They too mirrored the soaps used by Egyptians and were a paste made of mostly ashes and clay. Soaps began to develop and got better, until the fall of the Roman Empire, which eradicated almost all development in hygiene products like soaps. This continued until the period of the Renaissance, where interest in soaps began again.

Before modern day soap was invented

In 1791, just before the creation of the most modern version of soap, a man by the name of Nicolas Leblanc created his own soap, using sodium carbonate, and this was what was used until the new version. From there, the newest version of soap was invented and continued to be improved upon year after year, coming to include new ingredients and the addition of colors and scents. Soap has been a huge product that has been marketed for many uses over the years and is commonplace in almost every household around the world. Used more than ever, soap will continue to be a key part of personal hygiene and sanitation and with the market for cute shapes and designs for soaps and their novelty aspect. Soap will continue to evolve and get better for many years to come.