What is soap? I know it used to be made from combining animal fat and ashes. The internet is telling me it’s fatty acids and an alkali metal. I’m curious because soap, specifically bar soap, has a consistent smell quality. Is that because there’s an industry wide standard fragrance base everyone uses, and then tops off with specific smell accents? Or is it the basic materials that make that smell? Someone tell me!!
When I first smelled this Papoutsanis soap, I thought, “this smells like soap.” Then I thought “I really like this!!” Because, to be more specific, it smells warm, smooth, and cozy. It’s a nostalgic smell (though I think that’s true for most bar soap), and it makes me think of a sun filled kitchen with unfinished wood floors. A grandfather is there (he’s not mine) looking grandfatherly. It’s early September. I smell beeswax.
Because I had trouble describing this with words other than ‘soapy’, I smelled a Dove bar soap, the classic, and that helped me to smell this one better. The Dove smelled higher, this is lower. Dove was powdery in a bright way, but this is powdery in a rich way. The more I smell it, the warmer and cozier it gets. It’s old school – makes me want a beard so I could apply shaving cream with a brush and use a leather strop for my straight razor.
On the front of the packaging it said ‘tabac’ and on the back it said ‘cedar and amber’. So perhaps it’s meant to smell like tobacco? Though in smell marketing people sometimes say ‘tabac’ when they don’t really mean it. I don’t smell cedar. Amber is a tricky one. In the world of fragrance, ambergris refers to a secretion of the sperm whale (now made synthetically). And amber (the resin) is merely a fantasy note, because it’s a good metaphor for the way some chemicals smell. I think this might be the second, because it is warm, cozy, resinous, powdery. Lovely. I got it for $1.99 at Bill’s Imported Foods, a local Greek grocery store