Natural Soap – From Necessity to Item of Luxury

Sylvie HewettSoapLeave a Comment

A brief history of Soap

The early Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greek all used variants of ash, water and mud or clay to clean themselves or to wash their clothes with. According to Ancient Roman legend, a soapy substance was discovered by chance after rainwater washed a mixture of melted fat and ash from the sacrificial mountain, Mt Sapo, to the river Tiber below. There, people found that this was effectively used to wash their clothes or any and everything with. In South Africa we have a traditional multi-purpose staple soap called Boerseep (which is a bit like the Swiss army knife of soaps) which is akin to this very basic early soap.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years and the process of making soap has evolved into the bare natural ingredients of Tallow and/or Olive Oil and Ash. (or sometimes Tallow and Olive oil together as in the case of our unique Bastille soap bars) Areas such as Castile in Spain and Marseilles in France became renowned for their soap-making because of their supplies of high-quality Olive oil. Today a Castile soap is the name for an Olive Oil based vegan soap, of which Pure Primal has a couple of varieties made with the highest quality first/cold Pressed single origin Franschhoek Olive Oil. We let these cure for 4-6 months before hand-wrapping each bar.

The Basics of Natural Soap

Natural soap is not only a good body cleaner but also great for moisturising with its pure ingredients. All soap contains natural glycerine (10% or so) which is a humectant (a substance that can pull moisture into the top layer of the skin). Along with pure essential oils, which adds uplifting and revitalising properties, you get most of what you need in a small bar, which lasts much longer than an 80-90% glycerine bar.


Raw organic fat - one of the key ingredients


Boerseep - cured, cut and wrapped, a soap that stood the test of time !

A bit more about the soap making process

When fats and/or oils mix with lye (or soda ash) over a heat, raw/uncured soap is formed and this process is called saponification.

There are still many Soapers around the world today, each honoring their traditional artisan craft and lovingly producing natural soap. We personally change the selection and amounts of local ingredients for the purpose and scent of soap we want. For example, ground activated charcoal is added as one of a few key ingredients to our 3C clarifying facial soap as it has excellent detoxifying and cleansing properties for use on the facial area.

We sometimes get carried away with the fun process of soap making and have created a few luxurious product lines called: tea and roses, oat biscuit, citrus burst, kofi & mints. These are packed full of essential oils and various raw orgnanic ingredients (you will be tempted to eat it! ) Our Seasonal soap range comes from using a portion of our fruit and vegetable gardens to produce limited soap bars such as: Wijn en Moerbei or Beetroot and Earth or Carrot and Tomato or Nooi in n Naartjie

So, we never sacrifice any luxury when switching over to truly natural soaps, as Pure Primal’s got it all!


Lye solution with seasonal mulberries and reduced organic Franschhoek wine


Organic essential oils ready to be mixed with the mulled wine solution


Raw uncured Mulberry soap - ready to cure for a few hours

What is in commercial soaps?

We all know there are so many health damaging chemicals thrown into our daily household products yet we blindly trust them to be safe, and use them.

It can be understood why there are so many chemicals thrown into soap and body wash solutions from a commercial and cost effective point of view, but they are harmful to humans.

Chemicals to watch out for when buying soap:

Artificial Colouring - May be cancer forming and causing various illnesses. It is used because the exact color can be created and will never fade away, as natural ingredients can over time. 

Fragrance/ Synthetic PerfumeThe ingredient “Fragrance” is vague and refers mostly to a cocktail of chemicals, which are considered “trade secrets.” Synthetic chemicals and cancer-causing toxins e.g. phthalates, are part of this term. Exposure to fragrances impact the central nervous system negatively and can trigger allergies, migraines and asthma symptoms. It is used because synthetic Perfumes are also cheaper than the natural counterpart, essential oils, and lasts a long time

Various chemical preservatives - Parabens and Phthalates. These are estrogen mimicking preservatives - meaning that the body mistakes them for estrogen. Your body then thinks there is an abnormally high amount of estrogen present and reacts in various ways: decrease muscle mass, increase fat deposits, early puberty, gynecomastia and spurring reproductive difficulties in men and women. The reason this is used is to reduce brittleness and cracking in cosmetic products

Sulfates. These chemicals produce lather and bubbles. SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are common sulfates that gives rich foam and lather that strips the skin of its natural oils and increase penetration of the skin’s surface. People with sensitive skin or eczema are those who suffer the toxic consequences the most.

Triclosan. A chemical most often found in antibacterial soap. Recently found to promote the emergence and growth of bacteria resistant to antibiotic cleansers. It also creates the carcinogen dioxin that has been found at high levels in human breast milk. Dioxin shows disruptive effects on the endocrine system and negatively affect thyroid functions. Dioxin is also the primary toxic component of Agent Orange herbacide!!


Rooibos, dried cherry, naartjie and lye solution


So fragrant! Raw and ready to set a few hours


The final product. Cured for 6 weeks and double hand wrapped. Nooi in a Naartjie made with Pure Cocoa, Organic Naartjie botanicals & oils  - Check out the Seasonal category to see if its still in stock

Naturally…Natural is best

Pure primal is honoring tradition – if it works, why change it? So we took our traditional soap recipes, added handpicked local ingredients and hand-made & hand-cut each bar. We then let the bars cure for 4-6 weeks before lovingly double hand-wrapping each bar. NO Nasties. No Preservatives. No Chemicals. Just Pure Primal Natural good, clean and pronounceable ingredients.

We also do NOT use cheap filler oils such as Sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil etc., due to health reasons. These oils tend to go rancid and produce a “sticky” feel and rancid smell.

Here is a link to our bathroom category at the shop to nose around a bit more.

What is your thoughts on natural soap.. do you make your own ? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below !

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