Beginning in the Middle Ages, soap fabrication became an important industry in southern France, where all of the ingredients were readily available: olive oil from les Alpilles near Les Baux-de-Provence, and sodium carbonate and marine salt from the Camargue.
In the 17th century, Marseille became the largest soap manufacturing region in France.
In 1688, King Louis XIV’s finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, issued an Edict, or rules that regulated the manufacturing and branding of Savon de Marseille. To assure the authenticity and purity of Marseille soap, the royal decree specified the use of great cauldrons and only pure olive oil, forbidding the use of animal fat. Failure to do so was punishable by law. And back then, Royal Punishment was not a trifling matter.
Later, as other vegetable oils like palm and coconut oil arrived from the French colonies, new formulas evolved.
Yet, throughout 500 years, the product has remained 100% natural, using only vegetable oils without any coloring or artificial additives or animal fats. By law SDM must contain precisely 72% oil.
Marseille soap is totally natural, made exclusively of 72% pure vegetable oil (olive oil from the region; copra and palm oil from the former French colonies) without artificial coloring or synthetic additives or nasty ol'animal fats. It is gentle and effective enough to be used on skin, as well as delicate fabrics such as silk, lace and baby clothes. Because it is hypoallergenic, dermatologists often recommend it for skin problems, midwives suggest it for newly-born babies, and it is even the preferred choice of pet groomers. As an anti-bacterial cleanser, it is an excellent disinfectant.
In today’s world, this eco-friendly product reminds us that good choices can be made in many ways to honor the planet.
We are pleased to offer many expressions of the traditional art of French soap making from the best companies in France.