A History of Marseille Soap…
In France, soap has been made by artisans since Antiquity. Initially created from basic ingredients such as ash and animal fats, it is in the region of Marseille, at the crossroad of trade of vegetable ingredients such as olive oil, argan oil and Mediterranean salts, where the Marseille soap, commonly known as French Milled, was born.
Medieval soap makers cutting the Marseille soap by hand.
In 1370, in the throes of the Middle Ages, Crescas Davin became the first and official Marseille soap master to be registered using the ancient artisan process.
By the 17th century, the Thirty Years War had caused major misery and shortages in soap for many European countries, such as Spain. Marseille had to pick up the pace to resupply those shortages so King Louis XIV, seeing the potential, enacted the Colbert Edict of 1688. This decree mandated that all Marseille soap only be manufactured in the Region of Marseille, and with local olive oil only.
After the French Revolution, the royal decree became forgotten and void. Making Marseille soap was no longer a geographically bound appellation. This allowed for various, more innovative types of vegetable oils to be used in addition to olive oil; as long as no animal by-products were used.
Marseille at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. 1860.
At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Marseille, a major European port, strengthened and intensified its production allowing it to become a major soap manufacturing stronghold.
Today, it is a huge success with hundreds of thousands of tons of French Milled soap are produced every year. Marseille soap is known worldwide as the finest quality soap in the world.
A La Maison de Provence Official Stamp
At A La Maison de Provence, our traditional recipe dates back to 1828 when Marseille soap masters asserted their craftsmanship of the French Milled process; a slow cooking purifying process which transforms vegetable oils into glycerin rich, smooth, lathering soap making it softer to the skin.
In 2011, founder François Bogrand created A La Maison de Provence in the United States to revive the traditional French Milled Marseille recipe and offer the Finest Quality to prime American retailers and discerning American consumers. Today, A La Maison de Provence is one of the fastest growing body-care lines in North America.
Our French Milled Process
Step 1: Saponification
It all begins with the saponification process where vegetable oils (coconut oil and/or olive oil, RSPO Palm, shea butter, argan oil) are mixed with water and various salts in a kettle and heated to get rid of excess moisture.
Step 2: Cooling
The saponified mix then cools down from concentrated soap to a warm soap paste.
Step 3 French Milling
The warm soap paste is then shredded into thin soap ribbons before going under the famous French Triple Mill which crushes the soap crystals into an exquisitely smooth, parchment-like sheet of soap. THIS is the secret of quality Marseille soap.
Step 4: Extrusion
The soap parchment then goes under yet another blade the French call the “Laminoire.” This blade slices the parchment into thicker ribbons of soap, some even refer to these ribbons as “soap tagliatelle.” These new, dense “tagliatelle” ribbons then go into a grinder to mix where they are compressed and formed into small, dense soap granules called “bondillons” (soap noodles). This part of the process is key to creating a homogenous quality of soap.
Step 5 for BAR SOAP: Mélange
The soap “bondillons” then fall into a giant mixer where they combine with natural colors and our fragrance blend with plant extracts and/or essential oils to create the best moisturizing blend.
Step 6 for BAR SOAP: Compacting & Molding
The soap is now almost ready! It is compacted into a dense bar of soap which is then sliced by a blade that the French jokingly refer to as “the guillotine.” The sliced bar, still rugged on the edges, is then struck by a mold with our A La Maison stamp. Et voilà!
Why is Our French Milled Better Than Other Soaps?
French Milled soap is known to be the finest quality. Not only is it plant based, but it is smooth on your skin and so gentle that it lathers very easily, even in hard water! The milling process is key to achieve the level of quality and homogeneity. Other soaps may not have these properties, other soaps may be animal or petroleum-based.
Where Can You Find Our ALM Products?
Great news! You can now directly buy from our website: alamaisondeprovence.com. You can find all of our unique A La Maison products delivered straight to you and free shipping starting at $30.
You may also look for our products at our retail partners: Amazon, Whole Foods Market, Lucky Vitamin, iHerb and more using our Store Locator below: