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Best of Make: Volume 2 by The Editors of Make:

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Gregory Hayes

Making Bar Soap

Wash your hands of the toxins found in commercial soaps.

By Alastair Bland

JUST WHERE AND WHEN HUMANS FIRST observed the chemical reaction between oil and potash is unknown. One legend says it was at “Mount Sapo” in ancient Rome, where a creek flowed over a deposit of wood ash and animal fats created by sacrificial fires for the gods. There’s evidence that the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Celts all developed soap — but regardless of who was first, it’s clear that observing nature led people to re-create the chemistry of water, potash, and oil to produce the first liquid soaps.

Bar soaps were innovated in the ...

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