What is Marseille Soap?
Marseille soap or Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap that has been produced in Marseille France for more than 600 years.
It’s made over the course of a month by mixing Mediterranean Sea water, olive oil, and the alkaline ash from sea plants together in a large cauldron that is heated and stirred continuously for several days. Once ready it is poured into a mold and allowed to set slightly before being cut into bars, stamped, and left to harden completely.
Made from vegetable oils, biodegradable, phosphate free and additive free, it does not pollute rivers and helps protect the environment. What's more, it requires very little packaging and lasts a long time when left to dry out between uses.
How can you use it?
Although there was a decline in the use of savon de Marseille with the arrival of synthetic detergents and soaps in the 1900s, the production of this beautiful soap never stopped completely. Recipes have been preserved, as have production secrets, and only a select number of family run businesses still make this special soap in France.
As people search for an eco-friendly, effective, simple and multipurpose soap, more and more people are rediscovering this gem that has been available all along.
You will often see savon de Marseille in two different colours – yellow/white and forest green. The main difference is the primary oil used to make it. Yellow/white varieties use vegetable oil while the green variety uses pure olive oil. While both can be used on anything, people tend to develop preferences based on the type of moisture desired and the look/smell of the soap. The whiter varieties have little to no fragrance, while the green smells earthy sweet yet still mild. The green variety is also more moisturizing on the skin for everyday personal care.
This is the soap that can be used to clean ANYTHING. Yes, I’m serious, everything and anything you need to clean can be accomplished with this one soap. This is a no muss no fuss soap that is luxurious and effective. Once you use it, you’ll notice just how soft your skin is and how squeaky clean it makes everything in its path.
Most commonly used for personal care (even the most sensitive skin and babies!), dish washing, laundry, and stain removal, you will be amazed at this soap’s possibilities.
Our Marseille cube contains no colouring and no synthetic additives. It is free of petroleum-based products and animal fats, unlike most other soaps and shower gels on the market.
The traditional Marseille soap manufacturing process creates an "Extra Pure" soap that is entirely free of impurities. It is gentle on all types of skin, even the most sensitive ones (babies, people with allergies, etc.). Thanks to the nourishing properties of olive oil, our Marseille Slice and Marseille Cube helps your skin keep a more natural moisture balance.
Kitchen Use and Cleaning
Savon de Marseille is also a fabulous choice for dishwashing. It effectively cuts grease, but is extremely gentle on delicate surfaces. This soap is tough when you need it to be for pots & pans, yet also gentle and effective on fine china and crystal.
A Marseille cube in a vintage dish with our horsehair dish brush is a stunning compliment to your kitchen that also offers an effective solution for washing up your dirty dishes AND your hands!
To use for dishes, simply wet the dish-brush or scrub brush shake out the excess water & rub the brush or sponge of choice in a circular motion on top of the block to lather. Once a good lather has been established, wash your plate, pot or pan in a circular motion with the brush and rinse the item clean. Repeat lathering up your brush as needed. The trick to a good lather is to shake excess water out of the brush before rubbing the Marseille block. You don't want to submerge the soap in water or get it too wet from a dripping brush. The block lasts longer, lathers faster and dries faster this way, and prevents a slippery mess.
Rinse the brush completely with hot water and shake out excess water at the end of your session. Let both the brush and cube dry out completely between uses for optimal results.
Savon de Marseille also works really well on kitchen counters & bathroom surfaces, as well as in the bathtub. Simply rub your soap onto a damp sponge or cloth to use, & rinse well. Wonderful for degreasing BBQs, stone counters & tiled floors-- even on slate. To clean stone surfaces, wet a brush in water with savon de Marseille, & use in a gentle circular motion.
It can even be used for spot treatment of sofas & leather furniture, but be sure to wring out your cloth very well.
Once you start experimenting and seeing results, you will start to rely on savon de Marseille more regularly and discover all the different uses for it around your home.
You can use it to not only wash clothes in your washer, but also to make a lovely delicate/ hand wash liquid [recipes to follow.]
It even works as a stain remover/spot treatment: wet a cloth or brush, brush it over the Marseille cube or slice and then rub it directly on the troubled area. For tough stains rub the cube or slice directly on the item. Rinse away the stain or allow the soap film to dry on the stain, then wash as normal. Both have stunning results that we’ve personally used in the kitchen when those accidental spills, or splashes happen.
For use in the laundry room, most people grate their soap and then simply add a small amount of finely grated soap directly to the washing machines in the detergent dispenser, roughly ¼ cup per load. However, an easier long-term way to use it for laundry is to make a NO PLASTIC & no chemical cleaning, hypoallergenic, ultra-gentle laundry detergent!
Here is the basic recipe to make your own laundry detergent:
- 1 oz Grated savon de Marseille soap
- 1 Quart [32 oz] Water
- 1 TBS Baking Soda [optional]
- 1 TBS White Vinegar [optional]
Bring the water to a boil & add the soap flakes, stirring to dissolve completely. Allow to cool, add baking soda & vinegar if desired. The baking soda helps to soften your water as well as helping to remove odors from the laundry, while the vinegar works as a fabric softener. Mix well. You should have a lovely, milky liquid. Once it has cooled completely, pour into a large mason jar or any recycled bottle for storage.
It will keep rather indefinitely in this state--simply shake the mixture before use. Every machine is a bit different, so it will take a few ‘gos’ before you find the perfect amount per load. About 3 ounces for a load is a good starting point. This laundry soap is absolutely wonderful, especially for avoiding allergic reactions for people with very sensitive skin or infant clothing. If fragrance is desired, simply add a few drops of essential oil to your mixture for the perfect custom scent!
For hand washing delicate or small wool items, you want to make up the following solution:
1 TBS Grated savon de Marseille
20 oz Hot [almost boiling] water.
2-5 drops of lavender essential oil of choice (optional)
Mix to combine until you get a milky, slightly foamy wash. Soak your item overnight in this solution. Rinse well the following morning. This is excellent solution for silks & extremely delicate items, but really something special for wool & cashmere sweaters. The delicate essential oil blend acts as the perfect antibacterial agent for a comprehensive clean!
Once you get going with this soap you will quickly realize the options are endless. Other common uses for this soap include hanging a slice of it in your closet to ward off moths and mitts, creating an insecticide with finally grated Marseille in hot water and spraying it on plants, and dissolving some grated Marseille in water to clean jewelry and silver.
We hope you discover the endless possibilities of savon de Marseille and enjoy using it in your home. There is a reason this soap has been around for hundreds of year without fail and were so happy to bring a piece of this sustainable and eco-conscious history back into the modern home.