What is Aleppo soap, and for what purposes is it used? What are the properties that characterize it, and why is it so appreciated? Let’s discover together how to use it for hygiene or body care and all its benefits.
Aleppo Soap: Origin And Characteristics
Aleppo soap, also called laurel soap or Ghar soap, is a product with very ancient origins that owes its enormous diffusion to the countless beneficial properties for the body that distinguish it. Initially made by artisans in the city of Aleppo, Syria, it then spread throughout Europe following the advent of the Crusades and is still marketed throughout the world today. It is characterized, in fact, by the almost total absence of synthetic additives and chemical substances, which makes it a highly sought-after hygiene item.
It is developed by exploiting the saponification process of olive oil and is subsequently enriched with a variable percentage of laurel oil. The latter, which is obtained from the extraction of the berries of the Laurus nobilis plant, gives the soap a particular aroma and consistency; it is no coincidence that the more abundant its quantity, the more valuable the soap.
Aleppo soap generally comes in the form of a block, square, or cube and has a rather hard consistency and a brownish color due to the long drying in the air while inside; however, the soap has a green hue due to the high percentage of olive oil contained. It has a characteristic scent due precisely to the berries used in its production and is characterized by having a basic pH.
All The Properties Of Aleppo Soap
Aleppo soap stands out for having numerous benefits, including solid cleansing, antibacterial and purifying properties. Furthermore, it is renowned for having an anti-inflammatory function due to the abundant presence of oil inside it. The more a soap contains laurel, the more valuable it is considered; in fact, to recognize a high-quality soap, it is necessary to verify that it has a quantity of this substance at most 12%.
Aleppo soap is helpful in treating some forms of dermatitis. However, those who suffer from skin conditions or dehydrated skin should seek advice from their dermatologist before using this product. The very high percentages of laurel oil contained within the soap (more than 50% -60 %) can give rise to irritation or not be well tolerated by individuals who have susceptible and delicate skin. Among the best-known beneficial properties of Aleppo soap, we find:
- Excellent cleansing and degreasing action due to the saponification process with which it is obtained and its basic pH;
- If used carefully and sparingly, this soap has a soothing, anti-inflammatory, and emollient function on the skin. This is mainly due to the polyphenols, vitamin E, and A contained in olive oil, all substances which also have a vital antioxidant function;
- has antifungal properties ;
- Laurel oil has an antibacterial action, which is also very useful for combating acne; it is no coincidence that this soap is used as a sebum regulator ;
- Thanks to the antioxidants that characterize olive oil, soap is considered anti-aging for the skin and is helpful in stimulating the synthesis of elastin and collagen ;
- Thanks to its delicate aroma obtained from the addition of laurel oil, Aleppo soap can relax body and mind ;
- Under medical advice, it can be effective in improving some skin blemishes, such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis;
- It is entirely vegetal and biodegradable ;
- It does not contain synthetic substances and cleans the skin without irritating or drying it.
How Aleppo Soap Is Made
The method with which Aleppo soap is traditionally made is based on the harvesting of olives and bayberries, with which the oils necessary for the production of soap are then obtained. Once the latter has been obtained, the actual making of the soap begins; placing the olive oil in a large pot, we proceed by heating the oil and then adding a mix of water and lye, triggering the hot saponification process.
Saponification consists of the basic hydrolysis of an ester, which is carried out using a base, in this case, sodium hydroxide or lye. The esters, however, in the case of Aleppo soap, are represented by the triglycerides contained in olive oil. Continue cooking the mixture with olive oil for several days until it reaches a very thick consistency; then, the mixture is cooled slightly, and the bay oil obtained by pressing the berries is added.
The percentage of laurel oil to be poured is very variable and ranges from 10% up to 70% based on the final product you intend to obtain. Once everything has been mixed well, it is poured into tanks used for this purpose and left to firm up, taking care to smooth the surface before the mixture solidifies completely. As soon as the soap has become challenging, it is cut into square or rectangular blocks, and the mark of the craftsman who made them is imprinted.
Finally, the blocks of soap are placed to dry on wooden boards for several months (not least 9-12 months) until, after this period, they are finally ready to be put on sale. Although the process for manufacturing Aleppo soap has remained essentially unchanged over time, nowadays, there is a tendency to use lye no longer, but rather caustic soda, as well as more refined temperature control methods.
How To Use Aleppo Soap
Aleppo soap has many uses, and it is no coincidence that it is considered a versatile and multifunctional product. In addition to effectively cleansing the body and hands, it is also used to:
- Counteract the presence of dandruff in the hair; in fact, it is used as a real purifying and cleansing shampoo ;
- Wash the laundry by hand, thanks to its intense antibacterial action;
- Perfume the drawers ;
- Eliminate moths from wardrobes;
- Aleppo soap on the face can be used to remove makeup;
- Cleanse oily skin effectively or acne-prone skin. This soap, in fact, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and purifying properties, cleanses the skin without irritating it excessively;
- It can be used to produce a valuable foam to apply to the skin before shaving or hair removal.
Although it has numerous exciting functions for the body, this product also has contraindications that should be remembered. In fact, it cannot be used on private parts, as its fundamental pH would be excessively aggressive. Furthermore, individuals who are allergic or have susceptible skin must pay particular attention. In particular, those who are allergic to laurel should absolutely avoid this product.
It is also essential to keep in mind that Aleppo soap does not contain any preservatives or antioxidant substances. Therefore, it should be consumed within a few months of its purchase. To prolong its life cycle, it is advisable to store it lying on a wooden soap dish (not plastic) or, even better, place it in a case wrapped in a cotton cloth when not in use so as to keep it protected from the action of the air and contact with germs and bacteria.
Aleppo Soap: Which One To Choose
Given the significant variability in the percentage of laurel oil within the soap, which can range from 2% up to 70%, it is essential to choose the one best suited to your needs. To do this, you will need to keep in mind the purpose for which you use the soap and your skin type. For example, those with susceptible skin will have to opt for soaps with lower percentages of bay leaves.
In contrast, those who prefer predominantly degreasing use (for doing laundry or washing hair, for example) can then opt for products with a greater quantity. of laurel oil. Based on the various percentages of these ingredients, the following uses are recommended:
- 5%: suitable even for the most sensitive skin, including that of newborns during bathing;
- within 12%: for delicate, reactive skin that reddens easily;
- within 16%: for dry or combination skin;
- within 25%: suitable for those with oily skin and who want a soap with a strong purifying action;
- within 40% : for skin with acne;
- over 40%: suitable for laundry, room scenting, and household cleaning;