The Art of Manufacturing Soaps & Candles

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The art of manufacturing soap has been, in a measure, known and followed for many ages, proving a source of industry and advantage to various nations and individuals. It may therefore interest some of our readers if we attempt to trace its origin and progress as indicated by the writings of the earlier authors. 6 Pliny, for instance, the Roman historian, informs us that the art of manufacturing soap is the invention of the Gauls, and that the best article made by them was a combination of goats' tallow and the ashes of the beech-tree. They also seem to have been acquainted with both hard and soft soaps.

The Romans eventually acquired this knowledge from the Gauls, by whom this branch of industry was, with their conquests, soon spread over Europe. Whoever may have been the originators of soap making, the Romans were undoubtedly familiar with it. Galen, at least, mentions it in his works, and confirmatory of this statement, we may add that a soap maker’s shop, with its utensils and products, was discovered among the ruins and ashes of Pompeii, which was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century of the Christian era. Soap was often used by the Romans as a cosmetic, for Pliny tells us that soap, with which the Germans colored their hair red, was imported into Rome for the use of the fashionable ladies and their gallants in that city. This cosmetic was probably tinged with the juice of a plant.

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