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Our Handmade Castile Soap

Our soap has been handcrafted in the same way and in the same rural Middle Eastern communities for nearly 1,000 years.  Called sabon al-zaytoun or Nabulsi soap by the locals, this pure olive oil castile soap was once one of the world’s most famous. Long before the first soap factory opened in the 1040’s, local mothers would make this delightful soap for their families after the olive harvest.

Around 300 years later it was exported worldwide and said to be prized by monarchs like England’s Queen Elizabeth I.  When the 19th century dawned, Nablus was the main source of soap for the Middle East and North Africa.   Today, though, Nabulsi soap has been largely lost to the world because the wars and natural disasters of the 20th century have slowed production to a trickle.

To help invigorate the local economy and preserve the region’s soap making traditions, we are reintroducing the world to this ancient, lost treasure of the east.  

Even after 1,000 years, our soap is still made in almost the exact same way:

  • Large copper cauldrons containing a mixture of about 87% olive oil, a bit of water and mineral salts (sodium hydroxide - used in all soap to turn oil into soap)  are heated for eight days over fermentation pits and stirred with a wooden paddle known as a dukshab.
  • When the molten soap that is created has reached a thick consistency, it is poured into wooden frames to harden.
  • While still slightly soft, it is hand cut into blocks and stamped with our logo.
  • The soap bars are then dried from one to three months while stacked from floor to ceiling in a traditional cone-like shape.
  • The soap is then wrapped or boxed by hand, not on an assembly line.