Some Information About Castile Soap


The term “Castile soap” comes from the Castile region of Spain where olives grew in abundance and where one soap – throughout all of Europe – managed to distinguish itself by its high quality and ability to clean better than others. This was Castile soap and it was made with nothing but Olive oil, lye and water.  All soaps use lye which causes a chemical reaction with oils/fats used in which both ingredients cease to exist as their former selves and become something new: soap.  If too much lye is used, the soap is harsh but if too much oil is used the soap is more conditioning for the skin. This is very easy to accomplish with our modern measuring and calculating technology. Castile soap has long been known for its skin conditioning properties and it’s mildness. Many people who cannot tolerate any other soap use Castile soap. 

With the modern surge in soap making some things have gotten a little muddled and some meanings have changed. The term Castile or castile  is often used now to denote any soap that uses plant based oils (as opposed to animal fats). This is unfortunate because it has caused a lot of confusion. Even Dr. Bronners (who has long been one of the only true soap makers) now calls their soaps castile, even though none of their soaps are true olive oil soaps.

There’s another little confusion in soap.  When we (soapmakers) say that soap is 100% Olive Oil, or 100% Coconut Oil, we mean that of the fats and oils used in the soap, 100% is of this variety. It doesn’t mean that there is nothing else in the soap. If we used 100% Coconut Oil and nothing else, you would not have soap, you’d have coconut oil. This is not used to defraud the user, it’s just a natural evolution of speaking about soap. For example, when I say “My Lavender Soap is 60% olive oil and 35% Coconut oil” I’m talking about the base of the soap. That base is made with lye (as are all soaps as I mentioned), water and essential oil.

Do you really need to know all this about soap?

Perhaps not. But, for some people with sensitive skin, exczema, rosacea, acne or other conditions, or for those undergoing certain types of chemo therapy, this can be extremely important information because the effect that True Olive Oil Soap can have on your skin may be entirely different than the effect that soap labeled as Castile might have.

Many people are already familiar with the benefits of True Castile soap.  Others are in for a treat. There is no more skin conditioning soap than True Castile soap. It is also the mildest. It has been used for hundreds of years so it has a history.  True Castile soap has some different properties from other hand made soaps. The lather is creamer and has smaller bubbles. Most people love it but some don’t. Some don’t like the feel of it as much as a more highly lathering soap but they use it anyway because of the effect on their skin.

My True Castile Soap sells under a few different names: True Castile, Bare Naked Soap, Baby Cakes Soap. They are all the same. (Why then the different labels? I guess the same reason as tissues come in different colored boxes.)

Liquid “True Castile” Soap

There are not very many cottage industry soapmakers who make liquid soap. it’s a little tricky. I gave it up at least 3 times before I got it right (out of stubbornness). Dr. Bronner is, of course, the best known of the natural soap makers and a larger company than a cottage industry. But even they do not offer a True Castile liquid.

My liquid True Castile is extremely concentrated. EXTREMELY!!  The only downside to it is that if it has to be shipped, it can be expensive (unless you order a flat rate box filled with other goodies, perhaps put together an order with your friends.)  Ask me and I’ll let you know the best and least expensive combinations.

Liquid from Bar Soap 

A lot of frugal and crunchy moms (which I say in total endearment) are making liquid soap from bar soap. How well this works depends entirely on what soap is used to make the liquid from. It will never truly be liquid soap in that given enough time it will get hard, so it changes consistency over time from “liquid” to “gloppy” to “thick and weird” However, I have experimented with my pure castile soap (and others) and it works pretty well for this and will stay the same consistency for quite a while. If you are local to me or buying a large order it would make more sense (and be cheaper) to order the liquid but to save shipping on the liquid, this is a possibility.

I have had many testimonials about my soap on Facebook but they vanish over time and I was not smart enough to save them so if you’ve used it, please comment here.