Marseille soap

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Marseille soap in blocks of 600 g

Marseille soap or Savon de Marseille (French pronunciation: ​[savɔ̃ də maʁsɛj]) is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oils that has been produced around Marseille, France, for about 600 years. The first documented soapmaker was recorded there in about 1370. By 1688, Louis XIV introduced regulations in the Edict of Colbert limiting the use of the name savon de Marseille to olive oil based soaps.[1] The law has since been amended to allow other vegetable oils to be used.

By 1913, production had reached 180,000 tons. Thus, in 1924, there were 132 soapmaking companies in the Marseille and Salon-de-Provence areas combined. However, by 2000, there were only five remaining.[citation needed]


Traditionally, the soap is made by mixing sea water from the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil, and the alkaline ash from sea plants together in a large cauldron (usually making about 8 tons).[2] This mixture is then heated for several days while being stirred continuously. The mixture is allowed to sit until ready and is then poured into a mold and allowed to set slightly. While still soft it is cut into bars, stamped, and left to completely harden. The whole process can take up to a month.


Today there are two main types of Marseille soap, a greenish-hued variety made with added colour and a white one made of olive oil, or a palm and coconut oil mixture.[1] Originally sold only in 5 kg and 20 kg blocks, today they come in sizes between 300 g and 1 kg, though larger sizes are often available, some up to 40 kg[citation needed].

Marseille soap is frequently used for domestic cleaning, including hand-washing of delicate garments such as those made of wool or silk. In its liquid form it is commonly sold as a hand soap. It can also be used in agriculture as a pesticide.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Association des Fabricants de Savon de Marseille". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  2. ^ "About Savon de Marseille". Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Sapone di Marsiglia come antiparassitario per l'orto". Coltivazione Biologica (in Italian). 2019-08-10. Retrieved 2019-09-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)