The Union of Marseille soap makers

Distinguish true from false...

Because the true “Savon de Marseille” is not protected by an appellation, it is important for consumers to know just what a genuine “Savon de Marseille” entails.

It is very difficult for the consumers to be sure that they buy a real Marseille soap.

The genuine Marseille soap, respect for an authentic, centuries-old traditional product

  • Made in Marseille or the Marseille region
  • Traditional process in a cauldron
  • Plant oils exclusively
  • Fragrance-free, no dyes, no preservatives

Nowadays…soaps which say they are “from Marseille” but are not :

  • Made mostly outside of France, and not in Provence
  • Mainly animal fats
  • Chemical additives (dyes, preservatives, allergy-causing fragrances…)

The "Union des Professionnels du Savon de Marseille"

The purpose of the Union of Marseille soap makers founded in 2011 is :

To defend, promote and educate about true, genuine Savon de Marseille.

The four founding members are:

  • Fer à Cheval soap makers, in Marseille
  • Marius Fabre soap makers, in Salon-de-Provence
  • Savonnerie du Midi soap makers, in Marseille
  • Le Sérail soap makers, in Marseille

A collective mark to promote genuine authentic Savon de Marseille

 In order to protect, promote and raise public awareness about genuine Savon de Marseille, a distinctive sign such as a collective mark was required.

The collective mark filed by the “Union of Professional Makers of Savon de Marseille” (a non-profit group) serves to certify that the product bearing that mark is an authentic soap from Marseille, which meets the criteria defined in the specifications established by the Union of Professional Makers of Savon de Marseille. (These specifications comprise the “Members’ Charter for the name “Savon de Marseille”, enclosed).

The members of the UPSM have worked on defining a brand that conveys meaning and is easy for the consumer to recognise:

  • The block of soap, symbol of Savon de Marseille in the collective memory,
  • The round shape recalls the stamps which were used to stamp the name Savon de Marseille on the soap
  • A design that is both modern and traditional, timeless, like Savon de Marseille…

Charter of members for the use of the name « Savon de Marseille »

The name “Savon de Marseille” is intended for use on soaps which meet the following specifications:

  • Hard, homogenous soaps which come in traditional geometric shapes of different sizes, in particular blocks, oval, bars, or in flakes and chips. Whimsical shapes such as balls, animals, characters, are not accepted.
  • Soaps made in cauldrons, or soaps made from 100% bondillons of soaps made in cauldrons;

According to the 5-step soap-making technique known as the “Marseille process”:

  • 1st step: mashing
    • The oils or fatty acids and lye are successively added to the cauldron (most often made of metal presently) under moderate heat, then brought to a boil, and the mass transforms and emulsifies,
  • 2nd step: salting-out
    • Since soap does not dissolve in salty water, this operation consists in adding sea salt so as to wash out the salty glycerine effluents. In this step the soap loses part of its water content.
  • 3rd step: boiling
    • This operation characterises the saponification and leads to the complete transformation of the vegetable fats into soap;
  • 4th step: washing
    • This is a refining step which refines the soap paste by washing it to remove the glycerol, any impurities, and the fatty acids which did not turn into soap;
  • 5th step: liquidation
    • In this operation, water is added to cause the crystalline structure of the soap to transition to the smooth phase.

Achievement of these five steps takes approximately one week to ten days;

The production area of the soaps or the soap pellets, known as bondillons must be located in the area of the origin of “Savon de Marseille” – that is, in the French County of Bouches-du-Rhône (13).