Until well into the 18th century, doctors in Europe argued that water and air were bad for the body. Powdering the skin and clothing served as protection against these "harmful elements".
It was not until the bourgeois 19th century that the attitude changed and people began to wash their bodies regularly and rid themselves of unpleasant odors. Washing became modern.
Soap as a scarce commodity
But during the war in the 20th century, the supply of raw materials was so scarce that there were not enough oils and fats for soap production.
It was only after the end of World War I in the 1920s that it became possible to mass produce soap through industrial production. Cheap fat raw materials were imported from tropical countries and a cheaper manufacturing process was invented: "Leblanc", later "Solvay process".
Ingredients of soap
Today, soaps are made from vegetable or animal fats. The main components are:
- Raw materials such as coconut oil, olive oil or palm oil
- Animal fats such as sebum, lard or bone fat
These fats are decomposed during soap making ("saponification") by being boiled with a lye. This process is called "soap boiling".
The so-called "fine soap" - or "toilet soap" called - is usually used for washing hands. It consists of odorless fats with caring additives, as well as perfumes and dyes.
Soap can harm the skin
The disadvantage of alkaline soap is that it not only removes the existing dirt, but also dissolves the skin's own fatty film, which can lead to cracked and rough skin. It also causes an increase in skin pH, destroying the acid mantle.
For severe eczema, therefore, an absolute washing ban was still prescribed until 40 years ago.
Revolution of washing: "soap without soap"
The realization that the healthy skin is slightly acidic - pH 5.5 - and conventional alkaline soaps attack the acid mantle, Dr. Br. Heinz Maurer to fundamentally reconsider the composition of soaps. He developed a soap-free cleanser - tuned to the pH 5.5 of healthy skin - which can be safely used even by people with sensitive skin.
The so-called "Syndets" are soap-free, wash-active substances with a particularly skin-friendly effect. In contrast to conventional soap, syndets can be adjusted largely to any desired pH value. The skin acid mantle is maintained by the particularly gentle cleaning with slightly acid syndets and can thus ward off harmful environmental influences such as pathogens.