Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Traditional Soap Makers in Lebannon

Our family subscribes to Saudi Aramco World.  It is a magazine devoted to culture, history, art and science as it pertains to Arab and Muslim cultures around the world.  The articles are informative, well written and the photographs are exceptional.  There are often articles about different fiber arts -- the Doubag project was featured in one issue, for instance.  But the best thing about the magazine is that its free.  You can subscribe by email and then fill out the subscription card in the first issue that you receive. 

We receive the current issue yesterday and there was an article about Natural Soap makers in Syria and Lebanon and their struggles to keep their traditional craft viable in the modern global economy.  Page 16 is where the article starts.

As a traditional soap maker I was very interested in how soap is made and sold in Syria and Lebannon.  The soap is made from 100% olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and laurel oil.  Traditionally it was graded according to how long it was aged (up to 8 years for the highest grade) and by the percentage of laurel oil in the bar.  There are amazing pictures of soap drying in 4 foot high soap towers in the workshop, soap packaged and waiting sales, and even workers skating across finished soap in special boots to cut the soap for drying.

The sad note in the article is that these traditional soap makers are struggling to survive in a global economy where cheaper, detergent soap is flooding the market and natural soap is on display beside clorox bleach, Dawn dish soap, and fleecy fabric softner.  Where natural soap was once used for laundry, cleaning, bathing and shampoo -- harsh chemical cleaners, full of toxic chemicals are being used by modern Arabs, while the traditional soap is marketed to tourists.  How stupid is that? 

Here's a gift from their ancestors -- traditional olive oil and laurel oil soap, rich in antioxidants, moisturizers and natural, healthy cleaning power and they are throwing it all away for glitz, economy, and social pressure.  What they save in money they will pay for in future ill health and environmental damage.  I'm saddened by this.

Joybilee Farm Goat's Milk Soap is made the traditional way with olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, goat's milk and silk (we are a fiber farm afterall!) It too is aged from a month to a year.  It too is filled with antioxidants, moisturizers, natural healthy cleaning power and is chemical free.  We use ours for bathing and shampoo, as well as laundry and household cleaning, too. 

Live chemical free -- use natural soap -- Joybilee Farm soap and shampoo bars or from Lebanon and Syria.  For the sake of your health and for the health of the environment.  And please stop using chemical shampoos and detergents -- they can seriously harm you.


  1. I have been enjoying making soap. I am quite interested how you added silk to your soap. What a lovely idea. How did the soap benefit?

  2. Silk adds protein and increases the moisturizing benefits of a superfatted bar of soap. The lather is also 'silky' feeling and quite enjoyable to use. There are a great many ways to add silk protein to soap.