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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.

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television


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.


  • 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


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

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

  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.

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