True Castile Soap vs Castile Soap Variations

July 12, 2019

100% Olive Oil Castile Handmade Soap

True Castile Soap vs Castile Soap Variations

There is so much confusion out there about Castile Soap.  I have lost count of how many times I have been asked what a true Castile Soap is.

I decided to write this quick expose in the hope that it will answer the 3 most asked questions.

  1. What is it?
  2. Why are there so many different types of Castile soap?
  3. Are we being misled.

If you have asked any of these questions you are not alone.  We all have. 

What is a true Castile Soap?

100% Olive Oil Castile Handmade Soap

Traditionally Castile Soap is a hard soap made from 100% Olive Oil.  The name originates from Castile in Spain.

  • Back in the 11th century soapmakers made Aleppo Soap which is a combination of Olive Oil and Laurel oil. 
  • According to Wikipedia “Early soap-makers in England did not have easy access to laurel oil and therefore dropped it from their formulations, thereby creating an olive-oil soap now known as Castile soap”

If we go by history records, Castile Soap is therefore a 100% Olive Oil soap.

Why are there so many different types and variations of Castile Soap?

Oh believe me, I myself have asked this question so many times.  I still don't get why but here is what I do know.

  • Over the years oils such as Coconut, castor, palm and many other oils are now used in the making of Castile Soap.
  • Many manufacturers are labelling it as Castile if the Olive oil percentage is 80% higher in quantity than the other oils.  Should they be calling it something else?  You be the judge of that.

Most of the other oils being used to create these new Castile variations are cheaper than Olive oil.  So are costs the main reason?  

Are we being misled?

Why you ask?  I can’t answer that question.  I don’t get it myself.  I do know that a lot of the oils used are cheaper than Olive oil, so is it a cost reduction tactic?  Perhaps it's all about reducing the costs.

Some sources claim that because the amount of olive oil used in the soap is 80% higher than the other oils used then it must be Castile.

But is that Castile or just another soap? 

  • I have no doubt it is a very nice soap but is it Castile?  I don’t think the question is whether it is good or bad, it’s more about claiming to be Castile.   

You and I are the ones who decide what we accept as Castile or not.  Myself, I believe Castile is just Olive oil, not a mix of oils. 

As a soapmaker myself, I can call a mix of oils soap many things but not Castile, but I could be called old fashioned by many I guess.

I compare it to Aleppo soap that is made with Olive and Laurel oil so if I add palm oil (which I have never used by the way and never will) to the combination is that a true Aleppo soap.  No, I don’t think so.

Same goes for Castille you could say.  If it has more than one type of oil then it is not Castile.

The easiest way to check is to read the label on the soap.  If this soap contains other oils such as coconut, palm or any other oils or butters then it is not Castile Soap.  Just because the olive oil is in a high percentage does not class as Castile.


Thanks for reading and I hope this will answer some of your questions.  Email me if you have any questions.

Be kind to your skin

Moolicious Soaps and Candles



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