There are in fact two kinds of Marseille soap:
The green soap is made from olive oil and coconut oil, or from olive oil and coconut and palm oil. It gets its green colour from its rich olive oil content. This soap is recommended in the bathroom for cleansing the body.
The white soap is made from palm oil (extracted from the oil palm fruit) and coconut oil (extracted from coconuts). This soap is traditionally used in the laundry.
The natural white colour of Marseille soap comes from the vegetable oils in it. At Marius Fabre, we use no colourings, fragrances or chemical additives.
One of the features of Marseille soap is that it is composed of 72% vegetable oils (hence the 72% stamp) and 28% humidity. The more it dries, the more water evaporates and its oil content increases.
To be more precise, it’s the oil made from olive pomace. The milled pulp and stones of the olives after the first cold press. It is the first cold press that produces the oil we cook with. The second press produces olive-pomace oil, darker in colour.
Coconut oil makes a good lather. Without it, there would be very little lather.
It has been used ever since the 18th century to make Marseille soap. In those days, it came from the French colonies, shipped to mainland France via Marseille port.
Its pureness and gentleness gives the soap used for skincare and in the laundry a creamy colour.
In soap cubes and toilet soaps, it is combined with coconut oil for lather.
Today, 80% of the world’s palm oil is used in the food industry.
The growing demand for palm oil for the food industry has led to the multiplication of palm groves.
Soap-making only uses a tiny fraction of palm oil production and needs a lot less land to grow the palms.
Palm growers are supported in their efforts by organisations like WWF and RSPO as they struggle to protect the environment while growing palms.
It produces soap and glycerine, which is then eliminated.
At very low temperatures, liquid soap naturally forms crystals: — proof it is made with vegetable oils only.
The crystallising process is entirely reversible and in no way deteriorates the quality of the soap.
The black soap in tins in our 1001 BAINS and HERBIER ranges is for use in the bathroom, for exfoliation and for shaving. Enriched with glycerine, it moisturises the skin better, adding to the nourishing effect of the olive oil.
The black liquid soap or paste in our LAVOIR and NATURE ranges is a multi-purpose cleaner for use in the home, washing animals or even on plants to prevent greenfly and scale insects.
Aleppo soap is made at Aleppo in Syria. It is made in the same way as Marseille soap, i.e. cauldron-cooking vegetable oils using olive oil and at the end of the cooking phase, adding bay laurel oil.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were two Fabre soap factories in Salon-de-Provence and the post often got mixed up. Marius was the younger of the two Fabres so he added “Jeune” (young) to the name of his company.
It was a marketing strategy used by the soap makers to widen their customer base. (Large groups of companies like L’Oréal and Renault also use this strategy...).