12-30-2016, 09:58 AM
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Based on a comment in another thread, I started looking into what sort of soaps were available in Norway during the occupation... lets just say I'm suitable horrified, and quite certain it wasn't well suited for shaving.

[Image: bs%C3%A5pe.jpg]
B-såpe was the only soap the soap manufacturers were allowed to manufacture and sell for general consumption. The recipe, size, and packaging (230 70 gram soaps to a cartoon, no individual wrapping) was likewise standardised and identical, so the general public wouldn't know (or care) who made the grey lump in the first place - note that the soaps still have a two digit code indicating the manufacturer stamped in it, so that didn't quite work. You could only buy it if you had coupons left on your soap rationing card, provided the shop had any in stock.

[Image: thumbnail-by-url.json?size=w400&uri=http...type=IMAGE]

As for the ingredient... lets hope no self respecting soap maker uses this one today:
20% soap (made mostly from hardened waste fat from herring oil production, but also from German manufactured synthetic fatty acids)
70% filler (chalk, talc, and/or clay)
10% other (alginate binders from brown algae, green dye and perfume)

[Image: thumbnail-by-url.json?size=w400&uri=http...type=IMAGE]

According to the sources I can find it didn't make much suds (or lather), but cleaned your clothes and hands fairly well by scouring them with the filler... does not sound like the description of the lather we all know and love, but perhaps more like a product for washing factory floors with.

[Image: 1706799_he7ea9c275581de2502d9_v1300548397_562x450.jpeg]

As mentioned it was also rationed, to add insult to injury. Several sources mentions that after the war, when real soap was once again available, kids were given the left over pieces of B-såpe to use as chalks when drawing and playing hopscotch in the streets.

3 5,347
 12-30-2016, 10:47 AM
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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That was a tough generation to put up with that crap.  Things like this that the younger generation take for granted should be taught in school.

180 24,673
 12-30-2016, 01:27 PM
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Ersatz soap was one thing... it's the recipes for ersatz foods that really makes me think they were made of tougher stuff than we are today. Or how do steaks made from kohlrabi* or rutabaga sound?

*) If you're adventurous: Steam whole kohlrabi. Cut into thick slices, fry in pan until brown. Brown onion or leek in the same fat**. Add flour*** and skimmed milk****to make gravy, pour over "steaks" before serving. Sounds yummy, right?
**) Getting fat for cooking was a whole other problem... cod liver oil was a common replacement
***) Which was hard to get, rationed and of dubious quality
****) Daily ration 0.25 litre per day, if available

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 12-30-2016, 05:40 PM
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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Thanks, Hans. That was a tough time for so many people.

38 5,507
 02-25-2017, 01:00 AM
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Italian women old enough to have been children and teenagers during WWII told me how they would soak wood ashes in buckets of water to make a weak lye, and use it for scrubbing the floor and boiling clothes to wash them because of the lack of soap.

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 02-25-2017, 03:59 AM
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I vote we don't go back there.  History being what  it is though".......  Very interesting post.  Thank you for sharing.

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