It floats in the bath. That’s how you know it’s real.
It should be left to mature. It is the luxury “pain” that gets better the older it becomes.
Pain D’Alep or Aleppo soap, using only olive oil and laurel (sweet bay Laurus nobilis)oils cooked in huge cauldrons with soda from sea salt, is hand-cut into blocks, hand -stamped and then stacked in towers of loaves in cellars, and air-dried for nine months until it has a golden brown exterior and when cut a glossy emerald heart.
Laurel & olive oil soap has been produced in Syria for centuries. Conflict-torn Aleppo in northwestern Syria, 193 miles from Damascus, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, having been inhabited since as early as the 6th millennium BC. It was at the end of the Silk Road which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. Its hard soap still symbolizes peace (olive) and glory (the laurel wreath).
Allepo soap boilers and curers work during the winter from November to March. Their soaps contain no animal fats or additives.
Also known as Sabun Ghar or Sabun Halabi, Aleppo soap was brought to Europe from the Crusades. Although its antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-viral, and anti-itching agents were probably not recognized. Or that it was good for rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. Aleppo soap is unmechanized soap – economical, extremely long-lasting, vegetal, ethical, and biodegradable.
The Aleppo Soap Company works with the Signes-based Tadé Pays du Levant, an ethical French company which since 1994 has produced authentic, origin-certified Aleppo Soaps. There are many cheaper, unregulated, and vacuum-packed soaps claiming to be from Aleppo which does not have the same provenance or properties.
Thaddeus and Adeleine de Slicewicz founded the Aleppo Soap Co in 2007 and work with Baroudeurs de L’Espoir to revive and preserve the region’s traditional soap-making tradition as well as provide psychological reconstruction through sports and other children’s education programs.
Thaddée de Slizewicz arrived in Syria in 1990, as a geographer and he has made soaps manufactured by the 2 oldest soap makers’ families since 1995. Fouad Fansa and Hisham Jbeilli represent 500 years of soap-making in the Middle East. After Fonsa moved to Antakya, Turkey, Jbeilli still operates his seventeenth-century soap factory in Aleppo city. Before the war, there were twenty-four soap makers. Now there are less than ten.
Says Thaddee: Any export activity, such as ours, is more than ever helpful for the country and its inhabitants.
Saryane also markets authentic Aleppo soap. Says Eric Chapotat, “True Aleppo-made soap floats. It’s a sign of quality. It has been properly dried. An Aleppo soap lathers less than industrial soap. The most luxurious is made from 55% laurel oil.
“Our company has imported Aleppo soap since 2009. It’s very important to help this region by buying real Allepo soaps”.
Jump into the shower for a good cause. Use a soap with a heart.
Soap boilers pour the mixture of the soap is poured onto a flat surface, like a shallow swimming pool, and then cooled and dried. There is a video showing how the soap is made here. The resulting block of green, fresh soap is then cut and branded with the maker’s stamp. It takes about six to nine months to dry on racks in well-aerated arches, and gradually matures with age into the traditional shape that we see. Aleppo soap smell is very mild due to the laurel oil, as olive oil soaps have little to no scent. The scent of Aleppo soap is very pleasing and leaves a very mild aroma after a bath.