The magical Aleppo soap
…sounds like a glorious overstatement. But it’s not. It is a truly glorious soap.
Not my words, the team at Wikaniko HQ wrote the ‘magical’ statement.
I was at first a touch ambivalent about the gushing effervescent descriptions given to many of Wikaniko’s products. As I work my way through the catalogue, item by item, it seems that these chaps simply speak the truth about their range of very exceptional products.
Now, think of your more conventional job, there’s no one worse than a new recruit who evangelises away to weary longer-serving colleagues about the company mission statement and HR’s customer-centric vision presentation. Always fun to track them down a year later and see that, even if they love their job, the shoulders and eyebrows have relaxed somewhat.
So I hesitate to wax too lyrically over the Aleppo soap, for fear of sounding like that rather overenthusiastic new recruit (that actually I am), and managing to ruin its appeal in the process.
Aleppo soap is a completely natural product and contains no perfumes, colours or other additives. The principle ingredients are olive oil and bay berry oil.
You can imagine the clean but rich herby/fruity smell of laurel (I’d never make it as a wine buff) as you shower – really relaxing and refreshing – but surprisingly and pleasantly it leaves no lasting aroma on your skin, just beautifully silky skin.
As a shower gel / body wash type-product user for many years, my memories of soap were not good. Cloying scent, that horrible dry/stripped feeling like all the moisture has been leached from your skin. This is nothing like that.
The feel of the soap is really light, not greasy, not drying. The scent is so evocative. The feeling of your skin after use is soft and cleansed but without any lasting trace of soapiness.
So I’ve gushed, haven’t I? Those who know me know that this is not my normal tone of voice so it must be good stuff.
The particular Aleppo soap stocked by Wikaniko is made by one of the last traditional companies producing for the use of the native population. We buy direct from the finest Syrian soapmakers. This traditional recipe has been made in Aleppo in Syria for thousands of years. There are many inferior quality Aleppo soaps produced ‘for the West’; this is not one of them.
Pure olive oil soap can only be produced in the cold months of December through to March. It is manufactured using a simple process that has changed little over the centuries.
Olive oil is mixed in large cauldrons with an aqueous solution of an alkali – the soda ash. The mixture is heated to more than 200 degrees Celsius and stirred until the oil fully decomposes, yielding glycerin and the sodium salt of olive oil. This process is called ‘saponification’.
Towards the end of the initial process, the bay oil is added to the mixture and further saponification takes place.
The caustic soda solution is drained from the cauldron and the soap mixture is washed with fresh water until tested free of any alkalinity. It is drained again and left overnight to slightly cool and to further drain excess water.
It is then dried for 9 months before it is considered ready for sale. This process causes the outside of the soap to turn brown, whilst inside the soap remains an olive green colour. At Wikaniko, the soap we purchase is allowed to ‘cure’ even longer before it is sold, giving you what we believe is the best in Aleppo soap.
Our soaps are finished in the traditional fashion, cut and stamped by hand and set. They feel especially light to the touch.
You have to experience this soap first-hand to believe it.
It is a great soap for taking on holiday/vacation as you can use it for everything:
- You can use it for babies, small children and pets as well. There are NO CHEMICALS in this soap. Purity only: olive & bay (laurel) oils, water, salt. It suits all skin types and is amazing when used instead of shaving cream/foam.
- It is also good as shampoo, adding volume, and will not damage dyed hair, in fact, preserves colour longer.
- …or for hand washing laundry.
- It is an extremely good soap in the case of any skin problems, including overly sensitive or allergic skin, extremely dry or psoriatic skin and eczema as it does not contain any chemical stabilizers or preservatives.
- No artificial fragrance: just the rich, natural scent of laurel while you bathe which fades away once you leave the shower.
- Creamy, luxurious lather for hair, face and body. Mild, natural and moisturizing, it won’t dry your skin out.
- One 200g bar of this soap can last for months because of its density (very few air bubbles, very little water). It improves with age as the last traces of water leave the bar.
- …and it floats beautifully in the tub!
If the intrinsic benefits of this soap aren’t enough to tempt you then it’s also worth noting that the production of this soap does not contribute to world pollution (like most commercially produced soaps) and buying this soap supports a 500 year old tradition in the UNESCO world heritage city of Aleppo, Syria.
I am sending a link to this blog post to the (numerous, ahem) people who received Aleppo soap from me for Christmas and who have shoved it in a drawer or cupboard thinking either “great, soap, didn’t expect that from her, she’s normally very thoughtful” or worse “I cannot believe she’s given me Wikaniko stuff for Christmas, that’s a bit much…” and hopefully they will realise that I gave it to them because I thought it was a very special product good enough for a very special person.
If you would like to know more, please feel free to get in touch.
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