You’ve seen them nested in cute little crocks with pot scrubbers near sink basins, and you’ve seen them in laundry rooms, sometimes in full block form, other times, liquid with a pump or soap shavings. But what exactly are these soap blocks, and does Savon de Marseille live up to the hype? The answer: unequivocally, yes.
Today’s post is an ode to one of my very favorite household cleaning items, the essential of the essentials, that just happens to be incredibly wonderful in heaps of helpful ways you might not have even considered. We will do a deep dive in Savon de Marseille, covering pertinent questions like, “When and how does one use this cleaning product?” “Where does one store such beautiful soap blocks,” “What is the difference between the green, white, and black options?” And lastly, “How is it made?” Let’s jump in!
What is Savon de Marseille?
Simply put, Savon de Marseille is sustainably crafted soap from Marseille, France that is made with at least 72% vegetable oils, namely olive oil, harvested in that specific Provençal region. Traditionally, this soap is made in cauldrons mixing salty sea water, olive oil, and ash from sea plants. The historic 600 year old process creates soap blocks that are more economical, sustainable, biodegradable, sensitive compared to most store bought and homemade soaps, while still being an incredible ally when it comes to domestic cleaning and self care at home.
The alchemy of Savon de Marseille soap-making is a beautiful one that has been passed down generation after generation, and can only be made in Marseille using the ancient process that was developed in the 1600’s. Like champagne which can only be authentic if made in Champaign, France, Savon de Marseille can only be made in Marseille to be considered the real deal. You can thank King Louis XIV for this declaration.
This soap contains no artificial or harmful ingredients like perfumes, dyes, or lye, and packs a punch when it comes to heavy duty cleaning. What makes this soap so special beyond the aforementioned facts, is its wide variety of uses within the home. You can use it to degrease a pan, to remove a stubborn stain, spray it in the garden to remove pests, and scrub a dub in the tub with your babies!
There are three main types: green, white, and black. And within those main types, there are different forms of soap, such as white soap flakes, and black soap spray, each of which have a specific function. Below is a breakdown of these soaps and their respective uses.
- Made from olive oil, containing 72% olive oil.
- Similar to beeswax candles, Savon de Marseille soaps will vary in color based on that batch’s harvest. All are equally wonderful.
- Can be used in the kitchen to scrub dishes.
- Use in the shower or bath to wash face, hands, hair and body for daily cleansing.
- Create a lather with this soap and use for shaving.
- Made with pure vegetable oils, no palm oil.
- For the laundry room, you can use in either flake or liquid form. To make your own laundry detergent with soap flakes, see recipe below.
- Rub block on linens before washing for everyday stain removal on things like grass and coffee. Always use cold water when removing stains! The warm or hot water has a tendency to make things worse.
- For oil stains like butter and olive oil, cover the stain with white Savon de Marseille soap flakes overnight and let the flakes absorb the oil. No water needed, the oils from the soap will extract the oils from the stain. The next day, rub with cold water and machine wash.
- For fruit stains, soak the linen in cold water for one hour before scrubbing it with a mixture of dual parts white soap flakes and lemon juice. Rinse and machine wash.
- Gentle enough for little ones and babies for general washing in the tub.
- Use in the shower to wash face, hands, hair and body for daily cleansing.
- Don’t let the name fool you, it is actually a very dark green which is reflective of the high concentration.
- Made from pure olive oils, containing a higher percentage than the olive green blocks.
- Very concentrated, mix with warm water or put on a sustainable sponge to wash up when using in pure form
- Best soap for the kitchen and daily washing of plates, pots, and pans.
- To degrease pots and pans put a drop of concentrated black soap on a sponge, wash, and rinse with hot water
- To remove stains on linens, pretreat the stain by dabbing linen where needed and let soak for 20 minutes for before machine washing.
- Be mindful when using Savon Noir on white linens, as it may stain!
- To clean and shine up copper and silverware, dilute 4 tablespoons of black soap in a bowl of water, soak the objects for 10 minutes, drain and dry.
- To wash windows, dilute 1 teaspoon of black soap in a bucket of hot water. Sponge the mixture on your dirty windows and remove access with squeegee and shine up with a microfiber cloth. No need to rinse.
- Due to it’s rich olive oil content, it cleans, sanitizes, and shines all types of flooring. Add a tablespoon to a bucket of warm water and wash away.
- Safe enough to use on pets as shampoo.
How does one store Savon de Marseille blocks?
To keep your blocks as long as possible, store out of water or wet areas. I prefer keeping my blocks on a draining tray or in a crock by the sink. Make sure they are never sitting in water, and let them dry in between uses.
3 Simple Housekeeping Recipes using Savon de Marseille
Homemade Laundry Soap | For Washing Clothes, Particularly Whites and Delicates like Silk + Wool
- 1/4 cup Marseille soap flakes
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
To make, put the Marseille soap flakes into a large mixing bowl. Heat the water in a saucepan, and once boiling, pour into the mixing bowl over the flakes. Mix until the soap has complexly dissolved and leave to cool down. Once cooled, add baking soda and essential oil of your choice, and pour into clean recycled container for use.
To use, pour 1 tablespoon of laundry soap into the detergent compartment of your washing machine per cycle. Shake well before use if needed.
Homemade Dish Soap | For Both Hand Washing & Machine Use
- 1/4 cup Savon Noir concentrate
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
To make, heat the water in a saucepan, and once boiling, pour the 1/4 of Savon Noir. Mix until the soap has complexly dissolved into the water and leave to cool down. Once cooled, transfer to glass jar.
To use, pour 1 tablespoon of dish soap into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher per cycle or simply add to warm water when washing dishes. Shake well before use if needed.
Unlike a lot of Homemade Dish Soaps, this one will keep your dishes film free.
Homemade Garden Rest Spray | To Keep Gnats, Greenflies and Aphids Out of Your Garden
- 5 tablespoons of Savon Noir soap concentrate
- 4 cups of warm water
To make, mix 5 the black soap and warm water together and put in a spray bottle. Leave to cool, then spray onto the leaves and stems of your rose bushes, tomato plants and any other plant showing signs of insect infestation. Repeat several days if necessary.
These recipes have been tested by our team at Homesong Market and we stand by their use!
Here are some other wonderful Savon de Marseille products we carry!
- Naturally scented hand washing soap in Orange Zest and Pine. We also carry an Unscented version if you prefer.
- Pre-mixed Savon Noir in a useful spray pump bottle so you can skip the step of mixing and making your own, if you prefer.
- Pre-mixed white Savon de Marseille laundry soap so you can skip the step of making your own, if you prefer.
- A very mild hand/body dish soap in three beautiful scents, Sandalwood, Verbena, and Honey. These are pictured above.
- We only carry authentically made Savon de Marseille soaps specifically from Marius Fabre. We’ve found their quality is highly superior to others on the market and also are family owned and operated, which we at Homesong Market love.
To access your one time only discount for the above mentioned products from Homesong Market, use the code SAVON10 for a 10% discount at checkout. We so appreciate you!