My favourite too
September 24, 2018 3:55 PM   Subscribe

My grandfather (on my mother's side, now deceased) spent his life running and operating a soap factory. My mom's brother, my uncle now owns it. I was in India a few years ago and I got to take a tour and here are some cool photos that I thought people might enjoy seeing since we're on the subject of soap. [Flickr Photo Album][Rattan Soap Factory*]

*There are some photos of some of the soap factory workers. I asked their permission and they were excited and happy to let me take their photo.
posted by Fizz at 5:08 PM on September 24, 2018 [23 favorites]

I love this.

I've been avoiding the major American soaps for decades; they're over-perfurmed and smell nasty and the artificial stench can't be fully rinsed off and sometimes they cause rashes. Random soaps from France, India, China, and of course Dr. Bronner's have all proven to be trustable; heck, even cheap bars of soap found at a Daiso (the Japanese counterpart to Dollar General, except not depressing) in Seoul have been less risky than anything from Procter & Gamble.

The upshot is we have a lot of soaps gotten from here and there, mostly being left to dry in the linen cabinet so when they're used they last longer. I have to add some Mysore Sandal Soap to the collection.
posted by ardgedee at 5:23 PM on September 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I hear it's very good for soothing pain caused by open-toed shoes.

(I'll get me coat …)
posted by scruss at 6:20 PM on September 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love sandalwood, it's a nostalgic childhood scent to me, yet I never knew about this soap! I must find some, and I'm delighted that the Grow More Sandalwood campaign mentioned in the article means I might enjoy it with a clear conscience.
posted by halation at 6:20 PM on September 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

My first encounter with this soap was in the washroom at the Instituto Camões in Panjim, Goa. I like interesting soaps, so thanks for sharing this!
posted by heteronym at 7:15 PM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am a soap maker, and I've done an exchange with the team at Mysore, and was allowed to purchase oils from them, but only to make soap for me, not for sale. Their soaps are extraordinary, and if you run across some, you should buy it, and carry it in and out of the shower. Don't leave it somewhere humid, the soap is so pure, and the oils so good that it will melt away leaving only a gorgeous scent and a small puddle of goo.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:21 PM on September 24, 2018 [17 favorites]

Export quality!
posted by euphorb at 8:33 PM on September 24, 2018

A soap in a hotel I stayed at recently presented an extraordinary aroma of hops (as found in beer). I looked at the ingredients and saw geraniol and linalool which are oils found in hops. And also, I learned, in lemongrass, which the soap was meant to smell like. Apparently hops are my madeleines.
posted by exogenous at 8:56 PM on September 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

That's interesting. I wonder if that soap would play nice with my daughter's eczema that flares up from time to time?
posted by Harald74 at 11:14 PM on September 24, 2018

Synthetic sandalwood stimulates hair growth, but natural sandalwood apparently does not.
posted by jamjam at 11:45 PM on September 24, 2018

The size of the bar in the photograph is the small size. Everytime I go to either India or Singapore I pick up 3 or 4 of the big round ones. If you're buying online, go for those, they'll last a few months.

More on chandan (sandalwood) and its qualities for skincare

Thank you Fizz for the photographs!
posted by infini at 2:06 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mrs. Hobo grew up in Honolulu, which used to be choc-a-bloc with sandalwood trees. They were all cut down during her childhood to make cheap soaps.

We're not permitted sandalwood soap in Hobo House.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:53 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

There is a soap factory in the town where I was brought up, right next to the schools.
And sharing a drive with the Soap factory, there is a Biscuit factory.
Guess what the two most common holiday jobs for kids were??
posted by Burn_IT at 4:28 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love reading about old products like this that are still thriving - thanks for posting!
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:17 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Running out of this soap is always a sad reminder that my last India trip is too far in the rear view. I know i can buy it at the Indian grocer here but somehow it feels wrong to pay 5x the price and not have to schlep it home via airplane.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:38 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was growing up in Shanghai, there was a clear hierarchy of soap: the stinky kind, the aromatic kind, and then there's sandal soap, firmly on top. Only well-to-do families would use sandal soap year round. I always thought the packaging for local sandal soap looks a bit exotic, and now I suspect it's because it's an imitator.
posted by em at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Walmart sells it.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

So does Amazon. (non affiliate Smile link)
posted by Samizdata at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2018

> Walmart sells it.

Doesn't look like Walmart themselves sells it. The vendor is Growkart, a third-party Walmart Marketplace seller.
posted by ardgedee at 5:55 PM on September 25, 2018

I love this stuff. Been buying it for years now from Amazon. I think it's probably what you get in hotels in Heaven.
posted by anguspodgorny at 5:55 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

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