Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

(1,374 words)

1. Basics

Soap is made by exposing animal or vegetal fats and oils to caustic alkalis and water. Depending on the raw materials, we distinguish between soft green soap and harder sodium soap. In the early modern period, hard, white sodium soap was made by using soda (sodium carbonate), which was obtained from the ashes of marine plants (barilla, seaweed, etc.), or potash or woad ash (potassium carbonate), which was boiled with pure fats or oils (usually olive oi…

Cite this page
Pelzer-Reith, Birgit, “Soap”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 07 December 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_027378>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180208

▲   Back to top   ▲