Olive oil soap has been used for centuries in the Mediterranean, both for personal hygiene and for general cleaning purposes.
Pure olive oil soap is considered the most adequate skin cleanser since it unblocks skin pores by effectively removing dirt, oily substances and dead cells. It is made from natural raw materials and the final product does not contain any additives.
The soap is made from olive oil which is boiled with caustic soda and sea salt for several weeks. It is then cast in open moulds to produce the so-called “stamped soap bar” (as opposed to the conventional “pressed soap”). Finally, it is placed in wooden racks to cure for 3-4 months.
Nowadays there is only a handful of such traditional olive oil factories left in the world and one of them is on Corfu, run by Apostolos Patounis. His great-great-grandfather founded the business in 1850 and it has been the family business ever since! The place has changed very little in over 150 years and the traditional tools are still used!
The main types of soaps produced are:
- “Green soap” made from crude (unprocessed) olive pomace oil. The latter is obtained by extraction from the ground flesh and pits of the olives after pressing. It contains olive chlorophyll; hence the green colour of the soap when “fresh”. This green colour fades as the soap dries and matures. The “green soap” is used mainly for household chores (especially clothes). It also had a good reputation for its disinfecting and healing properties on skin infections, allergies, bed sores, and strained muscles.
- “Asper green soap”, which is a stronger formula of the “green soap”. It has free alkali in its mass (increased pH). This makes it effective for clothes washing.
- “White olive – palm kernel soap” , which is made from pure Virgin olive oil (lampante grade). Edible palm kernel oil is added during the manufacturing process. This soap is used as a gentle personal cleanser face and body). It lathers well.
- “White olive oil soap” is as the white soap above, without the palm kernel oil. It has limited lathering ability and it is recommended that it be used with soft water.
All soaps are both 100% vegetarian, and 100% biodegradable. The factory is open to the public and is situated at the loanni Theotokis Street, just off San Rocco Square, on the way to the Green Bus Station. Open shop hours. Tel: 26610 39806. email: [email protected]