The beginners' guide to Castile vs. Bastile craft soap

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topofmurrayhill

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One of the things you have to understand about soapmaking if you're to become an expert is the very important difference between genuine Castile soap and the untraditional versions that crafters have named 'Bastile'.

Genuine Castile soap is made according to the traditions of the commercial soapmakers of Castile, Spain, who created a product that eventually became known the world over. Its basic characteristics are:

A light-colored boiled and salted-out soap made with olive oil.

Let's explore these characteristics further in the context of making genuine Castile craft soap:

-- Castile descended from olive oil soaps of the Levant, most notably from the cities of Aleppo and Nablus. These original soaps were made by the hot process, and the strongly-colored oils made them initially green because with HP everything that goes in the pot ends up in the soap. In contrast, the soap that made Castile famous was a very light-colored soap because it was made by boiling the ingredients and then adding salt to separate the soap from the lye, glycerin and impurities. Crafters don't really like to talk about this because making soap this way is a huge pain in the butt, so we've decided you can make the soap any way you want and still call it genuine Castile. You should try to forget what you've just read. You're welcome.

-- Like its forbears from the Levant, the famous Castile soap was a hard bar soap, especially because it was salted out as described above. However, crafters like to make liquid soap also and it's fun if you can do that and still be able to call it Castile soap. So go right ahead and don't worry about it. It's still Castile!

-- Unlike some of its forbears that included laurel berry oil to add bubbles to the soap, Castile soap was made only from olive oil. Crafters love this because it's the one traditional thing they can do that requires no additional effort whatsoever. Therefore, you can make anything you want any way you want and call it Castile as long as you only use olive oil. If you add a little coconut oil or anything else, you have totally bastardized your soap and can no longer call it GENUINE Castile. Due to your wanton disregard of tradition, you have now made Bastile soap.

Bastile soap is, of course, a name that crafters made up. Along with the rules above. Hope this clarifies things.
 

TeresaT

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BRB. Gotta get a fresh glass of water and something to snack on before I can start reading this one...

ETA. Well that was...anticlimactic. Funny as heck, but so disappointing. I thought I was finally going to learn what "salting out" soap was. It's been mentioned a few time in a few threads and sounds complicated. Bummer. I guess now I'm actually going to have to research for myself what that means and how to do it. Disappointing. I'm so used to being spoon fed everything...:(
 
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GeezLouise

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That was funny and educational, thanks! Although the word, "Castile," is pretty cool, I don't think I can use it now. :think:

I hope TeresaT does research the boiling method and spoon-feed us all she learns :-D
 
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kchaystack

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BRB. Gotta get a fresh glass of water and something to snack on before I can start reading this one...

ETA. Well that was...anticlimactic. Funny as heck, but so disappointing. I thought I was finally going to learn what "salting out" soap was. It's been mentioned a few time in a few threads and sounds complicated. Bummer. I guess now I'm actually going to have to research for myself what that means and how to do it. Disappointing. I'm so used to being spoon fed everything...:(
You could always watch Deeanna's videos about it, found on her webpage...

http://classicbells.com/soap/saltOutTut.html
 

Arimara

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Castile is snotty and bastile is an awesome soap after 3 months cure
:)
I'm of a mind that a castile made with an excess of lye is way better than one with a superfat or even no superfat. Granted, you have to wait a long while for it to be safe to handle and I'm basing this only off of the 3 OO soaps I made with 95% NaOH and 5% KOH.:think::mrgreen:
 

earlene

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My understanding of Bastille Soap is that it is a soap with a high percentage of Olive Oil. I have found varying definitions, but it all seems to boil down to a 'bastardized' Castile, wherein some of the olive oil is replaced by another oil.

SoapQueenTV blog addresses it here.

Also an old SMF post about Bastille Soap:. http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=12058

ETA: I did not know that about traditional Castile being salted out. Interesting. I'm not quite sure I understand the reason for salting out Castile soap, though. It's already mild and colorless.

DeeAnna's video on salting out soap scraps: [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DedPOZIOnfI[/ame]
This is part one. Part two starts after you finish part one.
 
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TeresaT

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Susie

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I am new please where do I start from?
You start in the beginner's forum. You need to read the stickies and about the first 10 pages of threads. You could probably get away with reading the first 5 pages of threads, then skimming the rest for anything with the words "help" or "recipe" in the title.

Then I would go watch this video:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWnqXTqZTvU[/ame]

It is not a good recipe, but she shows the basics of making soap.

Then I would watch this video:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR6ttCSrLJI[/ame]

Then follow the series. Ignore what she says about melt and pour.
 

IrishLass

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My understanding of Bastille Soap is that it is a soap with a high percentage of Olive Oil. I have found varying definitions, but it all seems to boil down to a 'bastardized' Castile, wherein some of the olive oil is replaced by another oil.
Going to the original source, the name 'Bastile' as it relates to an olive oil soap was/is just a fun, tongue-in-cheek nickname that a fellow soaper over at the Dish forum made up one day some years back, nothing more, nothing less (I remember reading the original post when it was first ever coined).

Of course, everyone loved the nickname and it wasn't long before it began to take on a life of its own with different soapers making their own versions- i.e., some liked theirs with 70% OO, others liked theirs to have 80% OO, still others liked 90%, and there were several others that liked 50% or 60% OO (and anything in between).

And as happens so often in cyberland, somebody somewhere on the net eventually mistook one of those preferences (70% OO) as being the 'official' definition of a Bastile, and it wasn't long before that in itself took on a life of its own, and now a good handful are under the (mistaken) impression that 70% OO is some kind of 'official' definition for a Bastile, when it's not- there is no official definition, although several have stated they think a Bastile should at least contain 50% OO at the low end (I'm in the 'at least 50% and up camp', but that's just my own personal opinion based more on my own sense of logic instead of on anything 'official'). What it all boils down is that a Bastile is pretty much whatever one decides for her or himself to make of it. Whether it be it 90%, 80%, 70%, 60% or 50% OO (or anything in between), it's all Bastile in my book.


IrishLass :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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it's all Bastile in my book.
While it's not how you meant it, that sentence could sum up my tongue-in-cheek point. It's essentially all Bastile, or at least the distinction crafters make between Castile and Bastile should not be taken very seriously.

Crafters say that 100% olive oil soap and Castile soap are synonymous. That's arbitrary and essentially wrong. Castile soap refers not to 100% olive oil soap, but to how they made olive oil soap in Castile. Nablus soap is 100% olive oil too, but it's distinctive because it's made by a different process.

It's a bit unfair to make liquid soap or cold process soap and call it Castile, and then tell others who added an additional oil that they've bastardized the style.

Whether you are making 100% olive oil soap or you add another oil, you're being inspired by Castile soap, not replicating it. Actually you are being inspired by an ancient history and tradition of olive oil soaps that includes Aleppo soap, Nablus soap, Castile soap, and Marseilles soap. Actually replicating one of them is much harder, but it doesn't matter.
 

roryk

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Yea the Salting out part is interesting, I read about it while researching Aleppo soap, but I'm going to try the process first on something that is less expensive than Laurel Berry Oil.
 

cmzaha

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While it's not how you meant it, that sentence could sum up my tongue-in-cheek point. It's essentially all Bastile, or at least the distinction crafters make between Castile and Bastile should not be taken very seriously.

Crafters say that 100% olive oil soap and Castile soap are synonymous. That's arbitrary and essentially wrong. Castile soap refers not to 100% olive oil soap, but to how they made olive oil soap in Castile. Nablus soap is 100% olive oil too, but it's distinctive because it's made by a different process.

Whether you are making 100% olive oil soap or you add another oil, you're being inspired by Castile soap, not replicating it. Actually you are being inspired by an ancient history and tradition of olive oil soaps that includes Aleppo soap, Nablus soap, Castile soap, and Marseilles soap. Actually replicating one of them is much harder, but it doesn't matter.
Which is somewhat like African Black Soap, which is made by tribes in Ghana. Any other would not be ABS and we cannot truly replicate it
 

aeiou_-

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For those of you that sell soap, How is the name "Bastille Soap" generally received by your customers? I was thinking about this the other day.. I'm sure some people would just think it refers to a certain type of soap (which would, of course, be correct). But then there would be those that ask what Bastille means.. haha. Anyone ever encounter this situation?

Btw, I do not sell soap.
 

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