Aleppo soap (often called Aleppo) takes its name from the city where it is made.
The city of Aleppo is located in northwest Syria. It was indeed mentioned in the ancient history of the Amorite, Hittite, Assyrian civilizations… The city had indeed been a prosperous commercial crossroads for two main artisanal activities: the manufacture of Aleppo soap and textiles. Moreover, most Alépine families have as their last name the profession practiced for generations by the family itself. We cite as an example: SABOUNI is the family name that manufactures soap, BASMAJI: it is the family name that prints the fabric. This is why families with the same name will not necessarily have family ties.
Of all the oriental cities, Aleppo is the one which produces the deepest impression on the traveler. This revelation is the result of a survey carried out on a large number of European visitors to this historic city. Due to its cultural wealth, it was recently elected “Aleppo Capital of Culture of the Muslim World”. Its important geographical location has made this city a commercial crossroads connecting south to north and east to west. This “Vienna of the East”, magnified by the Mamluk and Ottoman architecture which endowed it with its fabulous caravanserais and the most beautiful covered souk in the Muslim world. Admiring its imposing citadel which dominates the city, we are transported into the history of Aleppo from the Hittites to our time.
It is likely that the method of making Aleppo soap was introduced to Europe by the Crusaders. The first soap factories in Europe were created in the 12th century in Spain and Italy (Naples, Alicante, Genoa, Bologna, Venice). Soap making at the time did not develop in these regions. In the middle of the 15th century, Marseille saw a very significant development of this manufacturing which continues to the present day.
Artisanal production of Aleppo soap
Near the gate of “Kon-Nessrine” The production of Aleppo soap as it is today was carried out in small workshops. At the beginning of the sixteenth century these workshops were transformed into real soap factories.
This profession, which was held only by a few Alépine families, had experienced several periods of prosperity and decline. During the prosperous period, master soapmakers never divulged their secrets of making Aleppo soap and passed them on from father to son.
The arrival of new industrial soaps on the market caused the decline of Aleppo soap. During this period we found only poor quality soap on the market. Very high quality soaps were distributed discreetly between the noble families of Aleppo.
The famous Aleppo soap enjoyed great success following its arrival on the European market (Period: 1990 – 2011). During this period, soap factories in Aleppo multiplied by 10. The majority of these soap factories were installed on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.
It is good to note that this profession from an economic point of view (for the manufacturers) was not really lucrative. In fact, the soap maker would have to spend a lot of money buying the raw materials for the soap, paying the manufacturing costs and then waiting at least 9 months to be able to recoup these funds. This is why real soap makers are all passionate about their alchemical production.