So, what the heck is Castile soap?
Traditionally, the oil used to make Castile soap consists entirely of olive oil. Oftentimes, soaps are made with a blend of oils. I tend to use a high percentage of olive oil in my soaps, but I also typically use coconut oil, palm oil, avocado oil, and/or shea butter in every batch, too.
|My Castile soap|
So where did this "Queen of Soaps" come from? Castile soap enjoys a long, rich history. It was first made sometime around the 13th century in Castilla, a medieval kingdom in modern-day Spain named after the large number of castles in the region. Most soaps at the time were made with animal lard or tallow, but because Castilla had such a vast abundance of olive groves, they used olive oil instead. This luxurious soap quickly became a favorite among royalty and the wealthy in Europe. In fact, Louis XIV of France was so enamored of Castile soap that he demanded in 1688 that all Marseille soapmakers exclusively use olive oil in their soaps.
I've never used pure Castile soap before, and my interest was piqued after reading some discussions about it on a couple of soapmaking forums I belong to. I decided to take a stab at making my own. I did veer a bit from tradition, though - I am a total fragrance junkie and I just couldn't stand to leave it unscented. I kept things natural by using lavender and tea tree essential oils to lightly scent the soap. Honestly, I don't like tea tree on its own (I think it kinda smells like motor oil) but it is wonderful when used sparingly with other essential oils. Lavender and tea tree is one of my new favorites.
It seems like people either love Castile soap or hate it. I've heard some folks say that they don't care for it because it can feel slimy. I am told not to expect a fluffy, bubbly lather - Castile's bubbles are small, creamy, and slippery. Other folks love this about Castile, praising how it leaves their skin feeling soft and nourished. I hear more positives than negatives about Castile, so I have high hopes and I am excited to try it. I guess I'll just have to wait a few months to see if this soap lives up to my expectations!
Until next time ...