Enough relaxing yesterday, meant we were keen for more exploration of the island on Monday. We took a bus to Corfu town, and then we had intended to go to to the east coast to Gouvia but the man at the bus station couldn’t have been less interested so we ended up at Glyfada, a beach north of Agios Gordios. Oh well. We spent ages in the water as it was so warm. The clear water and beautiful sandy bottom meant it was a lot less scary for the wimps amongst us also.
Back in Corfu town and an hour to spare before the bus to Agios Gordis saw us in an olive oil soap shop. I found it by accident really as it just looked like a warehouse with an open door and being nosey I peered in. I decided to purchase some soap and as a reward we were shown out the back and given an explanation of the processes. The man was obviously very passionate about his craft. It is a traditional Corfu craft but not one that is carried out often today due to machines taking over. The soap he made is known as stamped soap rather than pressed soap which is what you mostly buy today. He made two types, white and green.
The white soap was made from pure olive oil and did not lather very much making it an ideal soap for the face and people with sensitive skin. The green soap was used for everything, including clothes. It is made from the chlorophyl of the olive tree. There were three advantages of making this soap. It lasted a long time, as it does not lather much, there are no additives and it was easy to make as everyone had olive trees.
The process involves it being boiled for two to five days, then poured into a tray for five to ten days to set. It’s then stamped with the craftsman’s stamp and put into the drying rack for four months before being packaged and sold. The ingredients include, olive oil, caustic soda, sea salt to wash out the caustic soda and water.