Connect with Us

Information Library

Castile, Bastille or What?

All content on this site is © 2012-2017 The Cup & Kettle

This is a matter of debate in the soaping community.  I am a traditionalist, however, and have been making soaps for over 20 years now.  Therefore I tend to stick with the original, true meaning of a word regardless of what new trends may exist within the current soaping community.

Traditionally, Castile soap was made from 100% Olive Oil plus the Sodium Hydroxide required to make it into soap.  It originated in the Castile region of Spain and became the generic name for olive oil soaps.  Today many soap makers refer to any soap that is made from all vegetable sourced fats and oils to be considered Castile soap.  Any time you see the tern "Castile" on The Soap Hut website it is referring to the traditional 100% OLIVE OIL soap.  Castile soap (100% olive oil soap) is one of the most gentle and moisturizing soaps made making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Bastille Soap is soap that is made using vegetable sourced fats with a minimum 70% Olive oil.  This would, in fact, be the more appropriate term for the "castile" soaps that are not 100% olive oil but are made with a variety of vegetable fats and butters.  Bastille soaps are also generally very mild and moisturizing soaps as they have such a high percentage of Olive Oil.  

What else could there be?  Well, animal fats are also used to make soaps.  Typically, if it contains animal fats the terms Castile and Bastille are not used.  But there are always soap makers that will use these terms to describe something else entirely.

The truth, though, is that many soap makers have very different definitions of the soaps that they are making.  Some will call any soap they make that contains any amount of Olive Oil a Castile soap.  Most avoid the term Bastille altogether just because the word is not "attractive".  The term "Castile" has actually just become a marketing buzz word for many companies.  So it's best to just know the definitions yourself, know the ingredients and make your own determination.  

So how do you know what you're getting?  Read the label.  Yes, we're telling to to read the labels again.  But that's the only way to really know what you're getting.  Olive oil should be the ONLY oil listed for a true Castile soap.  Olive Oil should be the very first oil listed if it is truly a Bastille soap.


Back to Articles