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Savon de Marseille

Wrapped in unbleached parchment paper and tied with waxed twine, our version of this classic soap is great to give as gifts and to use for houseguests -- but don't forget to keep a stash for yourself.

Introduction

In France, savon de Marseille has been used for generations to clean everything from linens to babies' skin. The soap got its name because the city of Marseille, on the southern coast of France, was one of the most important soap-making centers of the Mediterranean. Authentic savon de Marseille is 72 percent olive oil plus coconut and palm oils. It is long lasting, completely biodegradable, and has never been tested on animals. A 600-gram bar of savon de Marseille can last up to six months when used as a bath soap.

The addition of French green clay -- a natural clay hidden deep beneath the earth's surface -- helps absorb the oils and gives the soap a slick, soft feel. The clay will also create the sage color found on a lot of the traditional savons de Marseille. It's said to have the ability to draw toxins from the skin while the body absorbs the minerals it needs to aid healing and restore vitality, which is why it is one of the most popular bases for facial masks.

Genuine savon de Marseille is unscented, but if you make your own, you can add scents of the Mediterranean region, such as lavender, rosemary, honey, or almond.

Materials

  • Double boiler
  • Olive oil-based soap
  • Essential oils
  • French green clay
  • Milk carton or mold
  • Knife
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Steps

  1. Step 1

    In a double boiler, completely melt a block of olive oil-based soap, but don't let it boil. Meanwhile, add about a teaspoon of French green clay per pound of soap.

  2. Step 2

    Once the soap is melted, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon essential oil per pound of soap base.

  3. Step 3

    Pour the melted soap mixture into a mold, filling it to about 1 1/2 inches from the top. Allow the soap to sit until it is cool and hard, at least 2 hours.

  4. Step 4

    Once it's hard, use a knife to slice the soap into 1 1/2-inch bars.

  5. Step 5

    Combine about 1 tablespoon fine sea salt and 1 cup warm water. Wash the soap bars in this salt-water solution. Let soap dry completely, then rinse it in plain warm water.

Source
Martha Stewart Living Television

Reviews (18)

  • 22 Dec, 2011

    Any versions without palm oil? Palm oil production is VERY destructive to the environment, orangutan habitat & the lives of indigenous peoples. Even "sustainable" palm oil is very bad.

  • 17 Dec, 2011

    This is one article where I would give Martha the ol' tsk-tsk. Savon de Marseille is a very particular, very precisely made soap. It's a time-honored tradition, with some very closely guarded secrets. To try to turn it into a doctored melt and pour is utter madness to me.

    If you're going to attempt to make Savon de Marseille, at least make your own soap, instead of using a pre-made base. Show some respect to those who've mastered the art. Also, not calling it Savon de Marseille would be nice.

  • 5 Dec, 2011

    I wanted a more "authentic" Savon de Marseille, so I added a little finely ground sea salt (about 1 tsp.) to the soap instead of immersing in a salt bath. The added salt helps soften skin, especially if you have hard water. Still, very nice recipe and I was pleased with the results.

  • 11 Aug, 2011

    Never mind........If I would read! Good Grief.

  • 11 Aug, 2011

    Where can I purchase/get information on olive-oil soap?

    Thanks!

  • 4 May, 2011

    I've been making this recipe for years. It is the only soap that is gentle enough on my sensitive skin. Friends love it and ask me to make more as gifts. I add 1 tablespoon of French green clay. I also let it sit and rewarm before pouring; that helps the French green clay dissolve thoroughly. Majestic Mountain Sage has excellent products but prickly customer service. I just order what I need online from them.

  • 22 Sep, 2010

    Please email me as to where to purchase lye for soap making. kamawer@embarqmail.com.

  • 2 Dec, 2009

    In researching Majestic Mountain Sage I have come across many complaints regarding customer service, product quality

  • 27 Feb, 2009

    I bought a soap company so I got a great deal on big tubs of palm and coconut oil as well as an industrial size barrel of lye and all the equipment. The guy I bought the company from said he could get the oils thru Frito-lay (the big buckets of palm and coconut) but also thru Sysco? I haven't had to buy any yet so I don't know. Mag Mnt Sage has the big buckets, not sure what shipping would cost.

  • 11 Oct, 2008

    Hi, this site specializes in soap making kits and supplies: http://www.soapmakingstore.com

  • 7 Oct, 2008

    try this website. You will be able to find a supplier in you area
    http://www.suppliersbystate.com

  • 15 Sep, 2008

    go to this website to get the products you need to make the soap.

    http://www.thesage.com/index.html

  • 11 Sep, 2008

    I really like that recipe, but i dont know where can i find the materials. I live in dallas, Tx 75254 do you know where can i get the materials

  • 15 May, 2008

    I'm sure this is a nice soap, but it's not Savon de Marseille - it's melt and pour that's been doctored up. Amanter - the directions list Majestic Mountain Sage, but left off their website - http://www.the-sage.com

  • 9 Apr, 2008

    savon de Marseille is not made int his way. This method is totally wrong. As a long time soapmaker I would like to know where you got your info?

  • 5 Apr, 2008

    I found a Green clay soap of Provence on this webiste: http://www.les-savons.co.uk
    and it is a pure wonder!!!

  • 1 Apr, 2008

    Julieflomom, May I ask where you bought your supplies. I would like to find a mail order place to buy the ingredients. Thanks.

  • 28 Feb, 2008

    I made this soap, and it is lovely. The clay takes some work to dissolve - I had to stir for about five minutes, let sit, and then stir again. Very nice, quick project!