- Feb 20, 2013
- Reaction score
- Northeast Iowa, USA
It's not random. And it's not recent. And it's not just the US. The generally accepted consumer definition of castile as being an all-veg soap has been widespread for over a century. I agree that most soapers mean a 100% olive oil soap when they talk about castile, but even that is not consistent amongst soapers. I've given up on the word and just say 100% olive oil soap when that's what I mean. Here's what I found --...In the US they use "Castile" randomly.
It might be surprising to us, but the use of castile to NOT mean a 100% olive oil soap has a long history in the US and as well as in other countries. This confusion appeared to have started in the early 1800s as a way for disreputable soap makers to deceive consumers into thinking they were buying a mild olive-oil soap, but by the early 1900s, the common meaning of the word castile had irrevocably changed. In 1930s, James S. Kirk (of Kirks Castile fame) had been barred by the US Federal Trade Commission from using "castile" to describe his soap made from a blend of vegetable oils. In 1932 he won a case against the FTC regarding this issue --
The FTC claimed:
"..The basis of the commission's complaint is to the effect that castile soap is one in which olive oil constitutes the sole oily or fatty ingredient. The commission has found this to be true, as a matter of fact, and it is supported by some evidence. The respondent, therefore, insists that such finding is conclusive and that unfair competition is established...." Dictionary definitions and usage of the word by the US Pharmacopoeia, etc. were introduced to support the use of the word castile to mean a soap made only with olive oil.
The court responded that the common meaning of the word castile was quite different:
"...by far the greater number of witnesses, from all parts of the United States, testified that castile soap meant to them a pure high-grade toilet soap; or that it implied no special vegetable oil as an ingredient... the substance of all their testimony proves beyond question, so far as individual opinions are concerned, that the word "castile" when used with soap means different things to different persons....
The court further noted that even the US government recognized how the use of the word had changed. In a pamphlet from the US Bureau of Commerce:
"...Castile Soap was originally made from low-grade olive oils. The name now represents a type of soap, the term 'castile' being applied to a soap intended for toilet or household use... The type is not one easily defined, so now when made from olive oil it is invariably sold as olive-oil castile. There are soaps made entirely from coconut oil which are sold as coconut castiles or hard-water castiles. Many other castiles are made from a mixture of coconut oil and tallow...."
Reference: James S. Kirk & Co. v. Federal Trade Commission, 59 F.2d 179 (7th Cir. 1932), https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/59/179/1471747/
And now back to the OPs main topic of discussion........