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Introducing Savon de Wanaka: New Zealand’s own 72% Olive Oil Soap.

If you are a fan of Savon de Marseille, you’re going to be really keen on the latest offering from the soap kitchen - Savon de Wanaka.

Savon de Wanaka - traditional olive oil soap cube

And if you don’t know what Savon de Marseille is, read on, as it is a wonderful, multi-use, olive oil based soap and now you can buy the same traditional soap cube from us, right here in Wanaka, New Zealand.

What is Savon de Marseille?

It’s a pretty simple product with a simple name - savon is French for soap and Marseille is a city in France. Savon de Marseille is an olive oil based soap that has been produced in the Marseille region of the South of France for about 600 years. It is strictly regulated in that it must be produced in that region, it must be vegan and it must be made using a proscribed method - and those strict regulations were introduced in the 17th century! Its origins are believed to be in Syria, where there is a centuries long history of soap making which was spread through Europe during the Crusades. Savon de Marseille is used for everything in French households - washing clothes, people, animals and surfaces. It’s their natural, biodegradable way to clean whatever needs cleaning.

What is Savon de Wanaka?

There are only four ingredients in our new olive oil soap - olive oil, coconut oil, water and lye. That’s it. It’s a natural, vegan, palm oil free, olive oil soap bar. And there is a lot of olive oil in there - 72% to be exact - it says so right on the bar. It’s a feature of this type of soap that all of the product information is stamped into the bar, including soap weight and olive oil percentage. It’s a rustic look on a chunky block that suits the Soap Kitchen perfectly.

Surprising uses for Savon de Wanaka (and Savon de Marseille)

It’s not only about looks though. This is a gentle, natural soap you can use just about anywhere, from the laundry to the bathroom, which is why we’ve made it in a chunky 160gram bar. It is mild enough for handwashing your delicates or cleansing your face. It is a great stain remover - simply wet the stain, rub the block over, agitate to produce the lather and watch your stain disappear. You can then wash as normal. Wash your body or the dog - anywhere you currently use soap, you can use the Savon de Wanaka olive oil soap and you can probably find some new uses for it too.

You really don’t need to buy a special product to wash your pet - if you’re willing to use something on yourself, why wouldn’t you use it on the dog? Your dog is most likely to have bad reactions to fragrances in wash products, so using an unfragranced, pure olive oil soap is a great idea. How about as a gentle makeup remover? There’s no need to buy an expensive bottle of some special potion to remove your makeup, just use Savon de Wanaka (carefully around your eyes) for a great result. Now, you could also use it for washing dishes, but I think you’ll find that our dish detergent bar is superior for that - a detergent is always going to beat a soap hands down when it comes to greasy dishes. I wrote about the dish detergent bar in my blog, if you would like to read that here. Some people seem to use Savon de Marseille to wash their hair as well, but I think you’ll find that washing your hair with soap is probably not your best option.

Is olive oil soap really that good for your skin?

Yes! There’s a reason why olive oil soap is so good for your skin, and that’s because not only is the oil a fantastic moisturiser, but olive oil also attracts external moisture, holds that moisture close to the skin and forms a breathable film to prevent the loss of moisture. Even better, unlike many other substances used for this purpose, olive oil doesn’t affect the natural functions of the skin while performing all these amazing tasks, so the skin can continue to sweat, release sebum and shed dead cells. There are more beneficial properties of olive oil which translate into olive oil soap too. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can relieve irritated skin and is great for oily or acne prone skin because it isn’t greasy, so it doesn’t clog pores. It’s a natural, vegan soap, locally produced like its forebear.

Olive oil soap produces a mild, stable, conditioning lather, at the same time that it is an effective cleanser. Our Savon de Wanaka, a long-lasting traditional soap cube with no artificial colour or fragrance (just four ingredients, remember!) will generally be suitable for sensitive skins and even infants.

A traditional soap cube in NZ without the environmental impact.

I’ve lived in the South of France at various times over the years, since being introduced to the region by a French boyfriend in the 90’s (that’s another story!). I was immediately a big fan of Savon de Marseille, which you can buy there from the local producer or just from the supermarket. I loved getting my hands on the big soap block and I used it for washing myself in the shower or my clothes in the bidet! But where do you buy Savon de Marseille here in New Zealand? Admittedly, you can buy it in some gift shops and homewares stores here now, but it always looks a little tired and well-travelled to me, rather than the fresh local product I remember buying in France. And its price usually reflects the air miles on it too. Now you can buy the New Zealand equivalent, freshly made, either from one of our Wanaka outlets or directly from our website. It is going to make a great Wanaka gift too. You can get your olive oil soap fix and support local at the same time.

As with all Soap Kitchen Wanaka products, the Savon de Wanaka soap is a plastic-free product and no packaging is needed on it either. The fact that the product information is stamped right into the block using a stamp and a hammer just fits our brand so well, we don’t even need a sticker on this one. I wrote about making sustainable choices this year in my blog and this is a good example of what I was talking about. Sure, I could buy a bottle of dog soap, a bottle of makeup remover, a bottle of stain remover, a bottle of delicate clothes wash and an overly packaged gift for a friend, but if I can buy a block or two of beautiful olive oil soap which will fulfil all of those requirements, why wouldn’t I? It’s a no-brainer really. Savon de Wanaka is what you need.


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