Origins of French Soap: King Louis XIV & Marseille

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

As a soap maker, born, raised, and currently visiting the beautiful country of France, I wanted to share the history of the beautiful bars of ThinkSoap! that you purchase and proudly use in your homes.

It all Began in France, 1688

In the 17th century, the port city of Marseille became the first soap-producing region of France. The production of soap moved forward quickly because of the city’s proximity to an abundant selection of raw materials - olive oil, soda, and salt - and a desire to keep the masses clean.

In 1688, King Louis XIV passed a law guiding how all Marseille soap would be produced. These legal guidelines included the use of great cauldrons for the heating process, the use of only olive oil in production, and absolutely no animal fats. The use of tallow would result in the immediate banishment of the offending producer! This heavy-handedness and streamlining of the process proved to be of France’s advantage as they grew to be a top producer of soap.

The Next 100 Years

Due in no small part to industrial and sea-trade development, soap production doubled in the next century. Soap was being produced and shipped to other countries along trade routes. It is interesting to know that alongside the progress made in the world with technology (electricity, steam, machinery), chemistry, and building of railways, it is the hygiene of the people that may have been the most welcome advancement!

20th Century Industrialization - The Good & The Bad

In the early 1900s, French soap was high in demand. Still, by the 1940s, synthetic detergents, washing machines, and international competition slowed the market for the clean, chemical-free French soap developed centuries before under Louis XIV.

Thankfully, in the 1970s, a back-to-nature movement began with people seeking to live without chemicals and synthetics. To be more natural in thinking and in what people bought. Slowly growing until the 2000s, when a dramatic shift began with more people demanding products that do no harm - to people, animals, and the environment.

Today, consumers are rediscovering the virtues of this natural and environment-friendly product, an alternative to chemical and petroleum-based products.

ThinkSoap! prides itself on being a healthy product containing no harsh detergents, chemicals, preservatives, or other ingredients used in commercial soap production.

Have a great day and lather on!

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