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Old Soap Recipes

   

Translated by John Kercher

John Kercher was a wonderful man that I became acquainted with years ago, when I read an article he wrote on emulsifiers. So of course, I wrote to him and told him how much I enjoyed his article. He at that time gave me permission to publish any of his writings--as long as he was given credit as the author.

He had traveled extensively (laptop in hand) collecting and translating new herbal information that came into his possession from areas such as Moldova (North Eastern part of Rumania), Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece.

John's websites does not exist anymore, but if it did you would have found many wonderful stories, such as "
Was Frankenstein an Aromatherapist?"


He is missed by all that had known him.

Hello everyone!

I know absolutely nothing about Soap Making, however, in Oct, 2000 I came into the possesion of a remarkable little book, translated from High-German into the Dutch language called : "Instruction Manual or Studybook of the liqueur distillery" by D.Horix and translated by Th.G.Entrup Bavink, Pharmacist. This book also contains hundreds of Soap making formulations, which when of interest I will make available to everyone on this list.

What makes this little book so special is the fact that the German original was written around 1815 and that Horex for the first time in History published this book using the decimal system, under Napoleon introduced throughout Europe, but using old names. A "can" is a liter, a "maatje" a deciliter. Measurement can be confusing as in Europe the "pound" till 1870 equals one kilo in our times!

The beauty of this " Liqueur Horex" (he also published a handbook for Perfume making and Chocolate and many, many Soap recipes) is that it gives recipes based on natural flavors derived from fresh fruit and native as well as exotic herbs and essential oils. Anyone attempting to distill essential oils can also make liqueurs according to traditional methods. The result will be a product remarkably superior and far tastier than any of the commercial brands. These often contain synthetic flavors. Translating these recipes for members of the Aromatherapy lists today, I came acros many different soap making recipes, dating back from the 14th century to about 1820.

I have placed the liqueur recipes under an autoresponder horixone@kercher.nl , an empty email to this adres will result in those recipes being mailed to your email address within 20 seconds. During the coming week I will be placing the Soap recipes also under an autoresponder.

The "Horix" makes delightful reading, especially for those with an interest in essential oils. What makes the booklet even more of interest is the fact that many ideas in it have been proven completely wrong! One example for instance, Alcohol is obtained through fermentation of sugar. In the booklet Horex as well as the Dutch translator thought fermentation to be a chemical process of which they write: "Fermentation is the inner working in the mixture of individual compounds, which under certain conditions and solid nature laws, form spontaneous and by itself new products". By this phrase it is clear they had no idea of what fermentation really was. Not surprisingly because Louis Pasteur, born in 1822, would prove later that alcohol is produced by yeast-cells. Neither was it known in Horix times that yeast is composed of living organism.

I doubt if many of you will start distilling your own alcohol, which isn't really very difficult. But to make good liqueurs one can buy ready made ethyl alcohol of 95% and add the various components to it. Then let the mixture soak for about 24 hours and distill the alcohol off. Horix gives a recepy for a "ground-liqueur" to which essential oils can be added.

What is interesting is that already in 1815 there was concern about the quality of essential oils! Horix warns that: One can't be careful enough concerning the origin of essential (fine) oils, because it is nowadays unique to find completely unadulterated oils in trading places! He also give a hint how oils are adulterated with little chance of detection: "Very valuable oils like the Neroli (nereo-oil as he writes it) and Rose oil are diluted by Ben or Behen oil because this oil is transparent, white and without any smell. A small quantity of Roosoil or Neroli in Ben or Behen oil is sufficient to get a nice smell and both oils mix extremely well.

Old and Soap Recipes
In the Horix almost every Soap recipe starts with a reference and a referral to a basic soap in paragraph 294. Someone was kind enough to have this translated, I'm sure experienced "soapers" know how to figure out how to make this base!

Savonnettes in french means soap bars.

FROM HORIX
~ 290

[How to clean the soap]
Making a fragrant soap take care to prepare the soap as clean as possible. When you have some, the next step is to clean it. Do it like this. Cut the soap in pieces of 1 to 2 cubic inches and per 6 pound of soap one spoon of salt and ?? [Maa] of water. Melt the soap in a tinned copper pot, the best is the pot another, larger water filled pot. [don't know the exact English expression]

~ 291
[Further cleaning.]
Having done this use linen cloth as a sieve to remove all impurities. The next day you cut the soap in small pieces, letting them dry in the air, protected from sun and dirt. Then you melt the soap again, adding two ?? [Schoppen, a type of glass for drinking wine; not very exact; maybe you soapers know how much to use] of rose water or any other water, clean it again with the sieve and add per 6 pounds of soap 1 pound of starch flour [StSrkemehl]. Mix these ingredients as good as possible as with any other dough.

~ 292
[How to make soap bars]
To make soap bars you have to fill the metal moulds and when the soap is dry, it gets out easily. To make balls (dumplings) takes more practice. First you make them just with your hands and then in a mould made of wood or ceramic. You do this when the soap is half dry.

~ 293
[How to dye soap]
The soap balls are usually marble colored. You will use the colors mentioned in the first section of the book. The soap to be "marbled" is divided in as many parts as colors will be used. Each part is dyed separately, afterwards all parts are mixed again to achieve this "marble" effect. Dying is done when the soap is half dry.

~ 294
~SAVONETTES L'AMBRE~
To 7 pounds of dough, prepared as described above [~ 291], that is 6 pounds of soap and 1 pound of starch flour, add:
10 grain (Gran), Gray Amber (ambergris)[Grauer Ambra]
2 drachm[Drachmen], Musk
1 ounce [Unze], Sweet almond oil

Dissolve these ingredients in a drink glass half filled with high percentage alcohol [Weingeist] - which must be kept hermetically sealed - and then add it to the dough.


Until 1868 we have had the following measurements in all German States:
1 Gran = 0,0609 g
1 Skrupel = 20 Gran = 1,218 g
1 Drachme = 3 Skrupel = 3,654 g
1 Unze = 8 Drachmen = 29,232 g
1 Quentchen = 3,654 Gramm
1 Loth = 10 gram


WHEN THE HORIX MENTIONS "SOAP AS IN 294" THEY MEAN A QUANTITY OF SEVEN POUNDS, TO WHICH THE OTHER INGREDIENTS HAVE TO BE ADDED. WHAT IS CONFUSING HOWEVER AND PERHAPS SOMEONE WITH MORE KNOWLEDGE THAN I ON GERMAN MEASUREMENTS, IS THAT IN HOLLAND TILL ABOUT 1870 A POUND EQUALLED A KILO OF PRESENT DAY MEASUREMENTS!


~SAVONNETTES A LA FRANGIPANE~
Soap basis as in 294

2 Unzen (2 times 29,232g), Lemon oil
0.5 Unz,Bergamotoil
2 Quentchen, Clove oil
2 Quentchen, Nutmeg oil
2 Quentchen, Lavender oil
2 Quentchen, Rosemary oil
2 Quentchen, Anise oil
2 Quentchen, Neroli
2 Gran, Rose oil
Mix the soap with the oils.

~SAVONNETTES AUX FINES HERBES~
Soap basis as in 294

1 loth, Myrtle oil
1 loth, Lavender oil
1 loth, Rosemary oil
1 loth, Orange oil
1 loth, Spearmint oil
1 loth, Fennel oil
2 quentchen, Anise oil
2 quentchen, Bergamot oil
1 quentchen, Bay leaf oil(Portugall essenz)
1 quentchen, Neroli
4 gran, Rosewood oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTE AU JASMIN~
Soap as in 294

1 unze, Jasmin oil
1 quentchen, Neroli
2 quentchen, Almond oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTE AU LAVANDE~
Soap as in 294

1.5 unze, Lavender oil
1 quentchen, Rosemary oil
1 quentchen, Almond oil
1 quentchen, Myrtle oil
1 quentchen, Aniseoil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTES A L'OELLET~
Soap as in 294

1 unze, Clove oil
0.5 loth, Cinnamon oil
0.5 loth, Almond oil
0.5 loth, Nutmeg oil
Mix as usual.

~PAINS DE SAVON A L'ORANGE~
Soap as in 294

3 loth, Orange oil
0.5 loth, Cederoil
0.5 loth, Cassia oil
1 quentchen, Neroli
1 quentchen, Jasmin oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONETTES PERSANE~
Soap as in 294

2 unzes, Juniper oil
1 loth, Cassia oil
1 loth, Sassafras oil
1 loth, Sweet almond oil
1 loth, Marjoram oil
1 loth, Anise oil
1 loth, Violet oil(Nelken ohl)
1 quentchen, Neroli
4 gran, Rosewood oil
Mix as usual.

~PAINS DE SAVON AU MUSE~
Soap as in 294

4 loth, Cedrat peelings(bisam) tincture
1 loth, Majoram oil
1 loth, Rosemary oil
1 loth, Anise oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTES AU NEROLI~
To seven pound soap as in 294, add:

2 loth, Orange oil
2 loth, Lemon oil
1 quentchen, Neroli
Mix as usual.

~PAINS DE SAVON A LA REINE~
Soap as in 294, seven pounds

2 loths, Bergamot oil
2 loths, Lemon oil
1 loth, Cederoil
1 loth, Myrtle oil
1 loth, Fennel oil
1 loth, Marjoram oil
1 loth, Spearmint oil
1 quentchen, Violet oil
1 quentchen, Jasmin oil
1 quentchen, Neroli
6 gran, Rosewood oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTES A LA ROSE~
Soap as in 294

12 gran, Rosewood oil
2 loth, Limett oil(Citrus aurantifolia var. limetta = Limett, limette, eng)
1 loth, Rosemary oil
1 loth, Almond oil
1 loth, Cederoil
1 gran, Cinnamon oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVON DES SULTANES~
Soap as in 294

1 loth, Cederoil
1 loth, Myrtle oil
1 loth, Marjoram oil
1 loth, Bergamot oil
1 loth, Lemon oil
1 loth, Lavender oil
1 loth, Violet oil
1 loth, Nutmeg oil
1 quentchen, Neroli oil
6 gran, Rosewood oil
Mix as usual.

~PAINS DE SAVON AU THYM~
Soap as in 294

2 unzes, Thym oil
1 unze, Lavender oil
0.5 unze, Rosemary oil
0.5 unze, Spearmint oil
0.5 unze, Angelica oil
1 quentchen, Sassafras oil
Mix as usual.

~SAVONNETTES A LA VANILLE~
Soap as in 294

1 loth, Vanille dissolved in alcohol 78%
1 loth, Lemon oil
1 loth, Almond oil
Mix as usual.

~POUDRE DE SAVON - FACON DE NAPLES~
( 14th century) literally translated.

Take 7 pounds of air dried soap which has to be cut in very small particles. Then grind in a mortar to powder. Take the following flowers:

1 pound, Rose (The pound till 1870 equaled 1 kilo!) So use 1000 gram
16 lood (160 gram) Jasmine flowers
16 lood (160 gram) Reseda (Reseda odorata)
8 lood (80 gram) Violets
8 lood (80 gram) Dark red Grassflowers(Daisy)
4 lood (40 gram) Heliotrop flowers, *see note at bottom.

When these flowers are mixed together, add the soap powder to it and place everything in an airtight vessel. Leave it rest for 4 to 5 weeks. Then using a sieve remove the flowers. The result: a nice soap powder.

*Heliotrop flowers, Horix in German calls it Heliotropbluthe, can be found in many German nurseries. However I can not find the English equivalent word for this, perhaps one of you knows?
These recipes, conclude the soap bars section in the Horix.

Foreword from John regarding book called Aujourd'hui comme autrefois

I found the following old fashioned soap recipes in a book called " Aujourd'hui comme autrefois" , I like to share with you.

Please bear in mind that I know nothing about soap making, essentials oils are my speciality. I hope they make sense.

French Soap Recipes, From around 1750, slightly modified

~HERBAL SOAP EGGS~
Ingredients:
3 eggs
half a cup of distilled water
2 spoonfuls caustic soda (potash)
half a cup lard
1 tea spoon essential oil of clove
1 tea spoon essential oil of cinnamon
half a cup rapeseed oil
1 tea spoon turmeric powder
1 spoonfuls water

Preparation:
Making the moulds: Punch a hole on both sides of the eggs and blow out the contents. Enlarge the hole on the widest part of the egg to enable you to fill the eggs. Wash the scales and let them dry at a moderate temperature in the oven. Close the smallest holes with tape.
Preparing the soap: Pour the distilled water in a bowl. Add the soda and stir well with a wooden spoon. Melt the lard in a saucepan and add the soda liquid. Mix well, the lard will turn slightly pink, but after a while turns white again. Now add the essential oils and the in water dissolved turmeric powder. Mix real well and now slowly pour, using a funnel, the liquid into the egg. Do so by pouring during 10 minutes a small quantity at the time into the egg, the liquid will reduce in size whilst drying. Leave the eggs for 36 hours to dry. Now carefully break the scales and leave the egg-shaped soap for about 2 weeks to dry in a well ventilated place. Remove after that period the white powder that has formed on the outside and pack in silk paper.

~LAVENDER SOAP~
Ingredients:
Soap base made as in the above recipe using:
half a cup of distilled water
2 spoonfuls caustic soda (potash)
Three quarters of a cup lard

Then add:
One quarter of a cup rapeseed oil
1 tea spoonfuls essential lavender oil
1 spoons full colouring red and blue

Preparation:
Pour into mould allowing two or three days to harden. Remove from mould and leave to dry for two weeks. Remove after that period the white powder that has formed on the outside and pack in silk paper.

~CHAMOMILLE MILK SOAP~
Ingredients:
12 spoonfuls warm milk (not to hot)
2 spoonfuls chamomile (dried herbs)
3A quarter cup distilled water
42 spoonfuls caustic soda
half a cup lard
a quarter cup sweet almond oil
a quarter cup rape seed oil
2 tea spoonfuls essential Rose or Geranium oil
1 teaspoonful wheat germ oil

Preparation:
Pour de warm milk over the chamomile (in a bowl). Cover the mixture with grease proof paper and leave to soak for three hours. Pour through a sieve but keep both components. Prepare a soap base following the procedure as mentioned in the previous recipes. Add the sweet almond oil, the rapeseed oil, the essential oil, the wheat germ oil and the chamomile milk. Stir well during a few minutes and pour into moulds. Leave for 24 hours, then remove and place the soap on grease proof paper, store in a well ventilated place for two weeks. Remove after that period the white powder that has formed on the outside and pack in silk paper.

~SAGE CUCUMBER SOAP~
Ingredients:
1 bushel fresh Sage
half a cup distilled water
a quarter cucumber
2 spoonfuls caustic soda
half a cup lard
a quarter cup coconut oil
a quarter cup sweet almond oil
1 tea spoonfuls essential oil of sage

Preparation:
Cut the Sage into very small pieces, place in a bowl with the distilled water and allow to soak for three hours. Sieve but keep both components. Mash (make into a pulp) the cucumber (do not peel the cucumber before) and keep separate.
Make the soap base as described in the previous recipe and ad the coconut oil, the sweet almond oil, the essential oil of sage and four teaspoonfuls of the cucumber mash. Mix very well and pour into moulds, leave for 48 hours, then remove and place the soap on grease proof paper, store in a well ventilated place for two weeks. Remove after that period the white powder that has formed on the outside and pack in silk paper.
Hope this all make sense!

Enjoy yourself.

Have fun!

John Kercher

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