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The First Practical Book on Making Castile Soap at Home!

Castile Soapmaking

The Smart and Simple Guide to Making Lovely Castile Soap from Olive Oil Quickly, Safely, and Reliably

Book cover graphic

By Anne L. Watson

For centuries, the name Castile has been associated with the highest quality in soap. But Castile—made from olive oil, traditionally in factories—has proven hard to translate to craft soapmaking. It has earned a reputation as difficult to make, slow to cure, and lacking in rich lather.

Until now.

Anne L. Watson, author of Smart Soapmaking, continues her soapmaking revolution with the first practical book on making Castile soap at home. With the secrets revealed in this advanced guide, you’ll be making lovely, quick-curing, lather-rich Castile with no trouble at all.

Anne L. Watson is the first author to have introduced modern techniques of home soapmaking and lotionmaking to book readers. She has made soap under the company name Soap Tree, and before her retirement from professional life, she was a historic preservation architecture consultant. Anne and her husband, Aaron Shepard, live in Bellingham, Washington.

Shepard Publications

Ebook ~ 2015

Paperback ~ 2016

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Book cover: Castile Soapmaking


(Facts and Myths About Castile)

(Moving It from Factory to Kitchen)

(The Ingredients of Castile)

(Gathering the Equipment You Need)

Recipe: Anne’s Classic Castile

(From Prep to Cleanup and Beyond)

(Different Castile Soaps You Can Try)

Recipe: Milk Castile

Recipe: Herbal Castile

Recipe: Oatmeal Castile

Recipe: Cleansing Castile

Recipe: Gardener’s Lemon Poppy Seed Castile

Recipe: Castor Castile

Recipe: Coconut Castor Castile

Recipe: Tropical Castile

(Frequently Asked Questions)


Sample Text

Castile soap is a soap made from olive oil, sometimes with other plant fats mixed in. It takes its name from the Castile region of Spain, where it was made. But similar soap has been linked to other places where olive oil was plentiful, such as Crete, Nablus, Damascus, Aleppo, and Marseille.

There are romantic stories about the soap’s origins—stories involving queens, crusaders, and the Silk Road—but little or no reliable information. Plant oil soaps, though, were probably developed in the Middle East in medieval times to meet religious objections to the use of animal fats. Castile soap itself is thought to have been inspired by Aleppo soap from Syria, but it omitted that soap’s laurel berry oil, which was not easily available in Spain.

Unlike Marseille soap from France, Castile soap has never been legally regulated for content. But it was originally a solid soap made exclusively from olive oil. Hot processing was the only soapmaking method in earlier times—in fact, soapmakers were called “soap boilers,” and their patron saint, St. Florian, was shared with firefighters.

Going by histories and old pictures, soaps like Castile were produced in factories, using unsophisticated equipment and apparently no safety precautions at all. There seems to be no record of Castile soap being made at home. Compared with cottage soap, which was made with reclaimed kitchen grease, Castile was definitely a luxury item.

Castile soap is regarded by many as the pinnacle of the soapmaker’s craft. It’s also believed to be difficult to make, and especially difficult to make well by a small‑scale soapmaker.

It’s thought to need lengthy mixing. And to need lengthy aging, with some sources recommending a year or more. And to have poor lather, or even slimy lather.

These are all myths, based on the trouble that craft soapmakers have had in adapting what was originally a factory process. But making quality Castile soap on a small scale is not only possible, it’s even not so difficult. It’s just different.

So, now, let’s explore the differences and see how to make perfect Castile soap—traditional or with variations—with little trouble at all.

Anne’s Soap and Lotion Books

Book cover: Smart Soapmaking Book cover: Milk Soapmaking Book cover: Smart Lotionmaking Book cover: Castile Soapmaking Book cover: Cool Soapmaking Book cover: Smart Soapmaking Around the Year

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