• UNESCO – April 2020

    How 20 seconds of washing your hands with soap will save lives, the chemistry explained:

    Water alone may rinse off dirt, but viruses and bacteria are so small they often need chemical and mechanical intervention to get their sticky nanoparticles out of the crevices that make up our unique fingerprints. That’s why soap is so important. It’s made for this job. Give soap 20 seconds, at least, of thorough scrubbing and the pin-shaped molecules will penetrate the types of bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, that protect themselves with an oily lipid membrane. Like a nail popping a tire, the water-repelling end of the soap molecule, a hydrophobic tail that can bond with oil and fats, stabs COVID-19 and leaves the virus a deflated and broken sack of RNA cells.

    And while alcohol can also break an oily membrane, washing with soap has the added benefit of physically removing even tougher to break viruses and bacteria from the skin. This is thanks to the dual nature of soap molecules. As the hydrophilic, or water-loving, heads reach out to bond with the water, the tails turn inwards to protect themselves from the water and by doing so, scoop up anything they catch in tiny soap bubble cages called micelles. Scrubbing all parts of your hands and wrists vigorously, with a sudsy lather, is key to locking these invading particles away for good – and washing them down the drain. And whether the water is cold or warm doesn’t matter, so long as it’s soapy.

    This has been copied from a report published by UNESCO in April 2020.

  • Almost on a daily basis we are reminded about the damaging effects we are doing to the environment and our planet. Global warming, mass deforestation and over population are all contributing to the depletion of natural resources. So how can one plant help?

     

    Bamboo is Great for the Environment

    Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases over 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to an equivalent mass of trees. This makes bamboo excellent for absorbing greenhouse gasses and producing clean, fresh oxygen.

    Bamboo is the Fastest Growing Plant on Earth

    Bamboo grows incredibly fast. Some species of bamboo can grow over 90 cm in height per day. That’s approx 3.8 cm per hour. No other plant can do this.

    Bamboo can reach maturity in 1 – 5 years depending on species. Trees can take up to 40 years. So it is the only plant that can keep up with the rate of human consumption and deforestation. So the bamboo plant is super sustainable.

    When bamboo is harvested it will continue to grow new shoots from its incredible root system. This clever root system stops soil erosion. Harvesting hardwood trees exposes the soil to the elements and eventually erodes away into rivers and streams and, of course, harms wildlife.

    No additional planting or cultivation is needed. It requires no pesticides, fertiliser or chemicals to grow. Its fallen leaves provide the necessary nutrients that get recycled back into the soil.

    Every part of the plant can be used in one way or another with zero waste.

    Bamboo is Super Strong and Durable

    The tensile strength of steel is 24,000 PSI whilst the tensile strength of bamboo is 28,000 PSI. Bamboo is incredibly strong in its molecular structure and has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Bamboo can replace the use of wood from floors to furniture. It can be used as utensils, cups, straws and, of course, toothbrushes.

    Bamboo is Safe and Hygienic

    Let’s not forget the benefits to you! Bamboo is anti-bacterial and a natural deodoriser (hence bamboo socks have recently become very popular). Bamboo fiber is breathable and absorbent (socks again).

    Bamboo is a healthy food source in Asian cuisine and the giant panda just loves it.

    Bamboo is such a clever plant and a great alternative to single-use plastic.

  • 3 Bars of Lavender Savon de Marseille with Lavender flowers

    Lavender is a funky little soap, a little bit old-fashioned but has made a resounding come back of late.

    Provence, in France, is the hub of lavender growing. Fields upon fields of beautiful lavender is grown as far as the eye can see. Sunset over lavender fields is a sight to behold. It’s worth visiting Provence just for the lavender…… and the French know exactly what to do with it.

    As far as soap is concerned it has a multitude of uses. It has an extremely calming effect on the body and mind and at the end of a long day a soak with our soap helps with the stress, depression and anxiety of modern times. It can even help you to fall into a deep sleep.

    Lavender oil contains antibacterial properties that can help to heal cuts and abrasions. And it not only has antibacterial properties but also a powerful antiseptic that is capable of killing disease-causing pathogens that inhibit your skin. Such a clever little herb.

    Of course, everyone recognises the fragrance of lavender – subtle, floral, sweet – it was used as a perfume for centuries, and still is. Lavender works well when dried and is used for ornamental purposes. The flowers of the French lavender plant work well in potpourri. because of its strong aroma.

    If your lavender soap contains shea butter then, on top of all these wonderful healing and calming properties, it will leave your skin moisturised and glowing. So …… you can use it on your face without it causing dryness.

    Finally, did you know, that lavender is being used to treat diabetes. Researchers found that lavender essential oil helped balance high blood sugar levels and protect against oxidative stress, which causes complications in people with diabetes. You can’t eat our soap but these snippets of information are always good to know!

  • Starting out as a professional stone sculptor in Hungary she became very interested in food sculptor and so completed a course in food carving.

    After a few years working in Scotland Sisi moved to Bournemouth where she has become a highly successful food sculptor. Her work is absolutely beautiful and totally unique.

    Sisi works with corporate clients and also offers workshops teaching individuals and small groups the art of food carving.

    That is Sisi’s background and basically what she does but …… there is so much more. Sisi makes beautiful sculptors for weddings and events. They are just amazingly beautiful. You can watch her on her website actually make the most wonderful flower from a watermelon. Just so talented!! Check out her pumpkins, they are amazing!

    Proposing to your girlfriend? Sisi can take care of absolutely everything as it is a moment to cherish. Sisi’s business partner will be on hand to take photographs of the moment!

    Looking for an unusual gift? Then take a look at Sisi’s chocolates. They are not chocolates as we know them but strawberries dipped in chocolate and hand painted. Almost too good to eat!

    Fancy doing some food carving yourself? Sisi offers workshops for all abilities so please check out her website and take a look at the wonderful photographs of her own sculptors – they are exquisite.

    https://sisifoodsculptor.wixsite.com/mysite

    Facebook – @sisifoodscultor

  • Honey is perfect for your skin! It’s nature taking care of you inside and out.

     

    Honey has a long and romantic history—it is one of the oldest “ingredients” known to man. Women (and a few men) through the ages have bathed in and used honey to keep their skin and hair radiant.

    So, it’s perfect as an ingredient in the process of soap making.
    • Democritus, a Greek philosopher and physician, is quoted as saying “The secret of my health is applying honey inside and oil outside” Democritus is believed to have died at the grand old age of 109.

    • Madame du Barry, the infamous mistress of Louis XV, used honey as a form of facial mask, lying down for a rest while the honey did its work.

    • Cleopatra of Egypt regularly took honey and milk baths to maintain her youthful appearance.

    • It was said that Queen Anne of England used a honey and oil concoction to keep her long hair lustrous, thick and shiny.

    • It was claimed that another famous Englishwoman, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, used her own secret recipe for honey water to keep her hair beautiful.

    • Chinese women have a tradition of using a blend of honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin blemish-free.

    (Information from The National Honey Board)

    So what are the benefits of honey soap?

    Honey is also called a humectant, which means it has a natural ability to hold onto water and so helps keep moisture locked in the skin and prevents dryness. Perfect for hydrating the skin. Honey is extremely moisturising. This moisture and elasticity helps to give the skin it’s natural glow and healthy look. The antioxidants in honey means slower ageing, less wrinkles, less damage from free-radicals and who doesn’t like to have their wrinkles taken care of!!

    Let’s list a few more benefits. Who knew there would be so many –

    • Honey is known to have antimicrobial qualities.

    • Honey alone was used to treat scrapes, minor burns, sore throats, and various bacterial infections.

    • Honey contains natural antioxidant properties that can destroy biologically destructive chemical agents.

    • Honey also supplies the skin with enough nutrients for growth of new tissue.

    • Honey also helps protect your skin while under the sun.

    • Honey helps rejuvenate the skin for a younger, youthful look.

    • Honey is great for sore throats.

    • And if you just want to use it in some tea or on a muffin, honey contains antioxidants and trace amounts of vitamins, so it’s better for you than just plain sugar.

    It’s such a versatile ingredient and all produced in Provence by the clever little bees.

  • 3 Savon de Marseille in a tower in front of flannels and a lit candle.

    Savon de Marseille – Eglantine and Lily of the Valley Soap. Clean, fresh and beautifully stunning soap.

    Following on from my ‘History of Soap’ blog I’m going to talk to you about how soap is made …. well, most of it, because a little je ne sais quoi is added along the way!

    The process of making soap takes approximately fourteen days to produce authentic Marseille soap and this is how the soap makers do it –

    Stage 1 – Saponification Vegetable oil and soda are mixed together in a large vat, the oil gradually becomes a soap paste due to the reaction of the oil, soda and heat together. This chemical reaction is the saponification.

    Stage 2 – Rinsing or Cleansing The soap paste is rinsed several times with Mediterranean salt water to remove the remaining soda.

    Stage 3 – Heating Process The soap paste is now heated up to 100 °C for ten days.

    Stage 4 – Liquifying The soap paste is now rinsed several times with fresh water, to remove all impurities, thus earning the name “extra pure”. The paste is then allowed to settle for 2 days.

    Stage 5 – Triple Milling

    The soap paste is passed through a milling machine three times and pressed into a smooth fine paste. This milling process is to thoroughly mix the soap and fragrances while squeezing out any excess moisture and air.

    Stage 6 – Drying Out The soap is left to dry for 48 hours. And if the Mistral wind is blowing the drying out process will be shortened.

    Stage 7 – Cutting Up Once dry the soap is cut in the moulds. These soap blocks are then cut again producing smaller blocks of soap in various sizes.

    Stage 8 : The Stamp

    Finally the soap is given the stamp of “Marseille Soap”.

    That’s how this wonderful soap is made!

    A couple of things worth mentioning about your soap before I finish –

    Why is Soap Triple Milled?

    Making your own soap, as beautiful as it can look, cannot be triple milled. After milling, the soap will contain considerably less water than any other soap. It prevents it becoming a gooey mess and having a soggy bottom and, sadly, not lasting very long. No expensive milling machine, no triple milled soap = soggy bottom!!

    What is the Fine White Powder on the Soap?

    The fine white powder on the surface of the soap is remains of sea salt, which will disappear once the soap is wet. This affirms the authenticity of genuine Savon de Marseille.

  • Savon de Marseille is beautiful, natural French soap and as this is my first blog I thought I would start at the very beginning and tell you about the history of Savon de Marseille. Marseille itself is the second largest city in France and the main city of the historical province of Provence.

     

    Why is it made in Provence

    Thanks to its abundant raw materials – olive oil, soda and salt from the Camargue in Provence, Marseille became the first soap producing region.

    Going Back in Time

    Marseille soap or Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oils that has been produced around Marseille for about 600 years. The first documented soapmaker was recorded there in about 1370.

    Since the 9th century master soapmakers in Marseille have created exquisite, gentle soaps using native olive oils and the alkaline ash from marine plants of the Mediterranean.

    In the 17th century Marseille, already a hub of commerce, became the main production site of soap in France. By 1688, Louis XIV introduced regulations in the Edict of Colbert limiting the use of the name Savon de Marseille to olive oil based soaps. The law has since been amended to allow other vegetable oils to be used. All animal fat was and still is forbidden. Those who did not obey risked banishment from Provence!

    Marseille Soap’s popularity continued through the 1700s. Thanks to industrial and colonial development in the second half of the 18th century, production doubled and the impact on sea trade linked the name of Marseilles permanently to what had been a regional product.

    The early 1900s brought the arrival of mass-produced synthetic soaps and detergents. Washing machines made soap blocks less necessary in every home, but many households continued to trust only the purity and gentleness of the authentic green and white soaps from Marseille to wash everything from linens and floors to faces.

    The 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century were the golden age of the extra pure 72% oil Marseille soap. Marseille thrived thanks to soapmaking and the production of olive oil becoming the leading economic sector of the area.

    20th Century

    The 1940’s brought this boom to an end, the soap industry continued to decline in the region of Marseille. This decline had several reasons, such as the appearance of synthetic detergents and the spread of washing-machines, the development of supermarkets, the creation of new soap companies in other regions, the fall of the French Empire.

    However, the return to natural and ecological values in the 1970’s and 1980’s, heralded a renewal for Marseille soap. It is a fact that, of the 132 soap companies in Marseille by 1924, only 5 have survived in the Marseille region.

    And Today

    Today, we are rediscovering the virtues of this natural and environmental friendly soap, an alternative to chemical and petroleum-based products. No tests are carried out on animals and the soap, apart from honey, are all vegan friendly ideally suited for today’s consumer.

    Savon de Marseille now offer, in addition to the traditional blocks of soap ranging from 1 kg to 40 kg, smaller bars with natural dyes and essential oils which are added to appeal to a wider audience. Ingredients such as lemons, orange blossom and lavender from Provence are used in this wonderfully natural Savon de Marseille.

    Environmentally Friendly

    Savon de Marseille is today’s soap. We are all trying desperately to use less plastic and chemicals and this is where my soap comes in – natural, no plastics, no cruelty to animals and no parabens. It is the 21st century soap for anyone who loves natural.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed my first of many blogs!

    Lynda x