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greyhares blog

older, wiser, sharper

The Great Pears Soap Disaster

It is one of those small comforts the morning bath routine. The merest sniff has the power to transport me back to my childhood. A gentle, vaguely biscuity smell like the soft, warm aroma of the linen cupboard; the comforting concave oval shape with indents into which you can fit the old worn bar (waste not, want not!). Yes, I am talking about Pears Transparent Soap.

This particular brand is 200 years old, as the newly reworded carton reminds me. In fact the soap is 220 years old. First formulated in 1789, it was the world’s first registered brand and therefore is the world’s oldest continuously existing brand.

Transparent it still is. It used to claim to be hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, natural and original. Don’t look for these strap-lines on the new carton. They have disappeared; discretely and without fanfare. It is surely a wise move for the owner of a 200 year brand not to trumpet the words, “new, improved formula” on a product that is not only much loved but is used by people whose skin does not respond well to harsher soaps.

The Great Pears Soap Disaster :: spot the imposter

Pears Transparent Soap :: Before and After

The list of ingredients, which once read like a cargo on John Masefield’s Quinquireme of Nineveh – a Pandora’s box of exotic sounding ingredients sourced from the far reaches of the British Empire, now includes PEG 4, BHT, CI 12940 and CI 47005 (respectively a dispersant, antioxidant and colour additives). Then there’s the new smell. Biscuits and linen replaced with a whiff that to my untutored nose is just too strong, redolent of pine disinfectant and the hospital waiting room. Other noses might detect a herbal note – perhaps not unpleasant – but just not the proper familiar Pears smell.

My wife and I both suffer from sensitive skin. My wife is allergic to PEG8 and its close relatives, so PEG4 is a no-no. Ah well, that’s goodbye then to Pears Soap after 100 bath years of use in this household?

Not being one to take these things lying down, I called the 0800 customer service number on the box. Disconnected.  Undeterred, I googled the name on the box, CERT Brands in Rotherham and found a telephone number where, I reasoned, I might be able to talk to a brand manager. I spoke with a nice lady, the receptionist. No, she said, nobody else had complained so far. She made careful, precise notes of my comments. Yes, yes, somebody would call me back shortly.

A month later, I am still waiting.

Let’s face it, when you are a busy, important brand manager (I mean, the manager of an important brand), the last thing you want to do is talk to a disgruntled consumer. That’s what you have receptionists for.

Am I really the only consumer to have noticed? Not acccording to the author of Wikipedia’s entry on Pears Soap:  ”In 2009 the formula was changed to take out the peanut oil that it contained and adding other ingredients like more glycerin. This unfortunately completely changed the smell and texture of the soap, making it unrecognizable from the original product.”

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the concave shape of the soap is [presumably, was] formed by shrinkage while the soap is drying, and is not due to deliberate moulding. To quote Wikipedia again, “Recent changes to quality of ingredients used in the manufacturing process have resulted in a noticeably different shape (flatter rather than concave) and difference in scent.”

So, is there a lesson in here for much loved 200 year old brand managers (I mean the managers of much loved 200 year old brands)? It should be that you tinker with your brand at your peril. My experience thus far tells me that there is little chance that this message is going to get through. The only real sanction we consumers have at our disposal is to vote with our feet (and hands and faces) and stop using it. If too many did that, it might finish what others have already started and kill off the brand completely.

After 200 years that would be much more than a great pity, it would be a disaster.

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243 Comments

  1. Dear all,

    I am 62 years old, born in the Caribbean. My parents used Pears Soap, and I continued the tradition. The ‘new and improved’ product, as Unilever labels it, is far from the original. The working action is gone, and so is the smell.

    Amazing how a multinational destroys a magnificent product. If the original doesn’t come back, my Pears Soap tradition stops.

    Best regards,
    Raymond
    -/-

    • With regard to the Pears Soap story, I too have grown up with this product as did my parents and their parents.

      The product now sold in Australia is made in India and costs almost $A6 for a box of three cakes. It doesn’t seem to last nearly as long as the run of the mill Colgate Palmolive stuff even though Pears is 125 grams and Palmolive is 90 grams.

      I’m ditching Pears now – the tradition stops with me because the pricing is outrageous considering the source of the product and a discount pharmacy chain is selling a box of 10 x 90 gram Palmolive Green cakes for $A4.69.

      If anyone is interested I can post the ingredients of the Indian Pears but the last one mentioned on the box is “linalool.”

  2. Dear Greyhares, below is my update as promised. I’ll divide it into three sections, to make it easier for you to read:

    I have managed to acquire a very old bar of Pears soap. It has instructions inside on how to enter the Miss Pears Content inside. The last Miss Pears content was held in 1997, so I know that it’s pre-1997. The date of manufacture is probably atleast 10 years earlier than that, however because the price tag on the box was for just 45p. While the scent has greatly faded, it has a surprising degree of scent for it’s age. I’ve been able to glean the following things from it:

    - The smell is markedly different to the 2003-2009 version, which many assume to be the original.

    - The box has a mild spicy aroma, like a basic mixture of Cinnamon, Clove and probably Nutmeg.

    - The box has an undeniable smell of Orris root (similar to Violets and Raspberry).

    - The soap gives off the aroma of rosin from Longleaf pine in particular.

    - The soap has a faint smell of Storax/Styrax (Liquidambar resin)

    - The last aroma remaining on the hands is that of whole Orange peel.

    - There is no discernible aroma of Coal tar, which may suggest that the Pears Coal Tar Soap was different to the plain, Scented Pears that we knew. Or perhaps the smell has just faded.

    With regard to the 2003-2009 soap, I have been able to identify the ingredient Storax, with a high degree of certainty. I can also detect Cinnamon bark oil or cinnamaldehyde but not Cassia. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been able to detect Bergamot oil or something very similar, like a combination of Lavender and Orange. The other ingredients are too faint to indentify with any degree of certainty, so we must rely on research for any further indications.

    If we look at all of these findings together, then the research leads to one conclusion. Which is that Pears soap was to a large extent related to the old Violet soaps. Violet soaps contained Orris (Iris) root powder, which gave them the fragrance of Violets. They also typically contained ground citrus peel, Storax, Lavender oil and Bergamot oil. One of the earliest examples of a Violet soap can be found in the Arabic manuscript Abdeker, from the 15th century. The first translation into English appeared in the 1750s, below.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LUBWAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=seraglio+wash-balls&source=bl&ots=Zpgq_i9tX4&sig=L3-4WBKOKwhEOCVxP78J72Qi6Ww&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N_DmUvPhEMKy7AaCloDQCw&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=seraglio%20wash-balls&f=false

    (What appears to be a recurring typographical error is infact the olde ‘long s’, which looks similar to the letter f.)

    The recipe was subsequently included, with some slight modifications, in the book The Toilet of Flora, by Pierre-Joseph Buc’hoz (1779). It was one of the most popular books on beauty products at the time, remaining in print well into the 19th century.

    https://archive.org/stream/toiletoffloraorc00buch#page/204/mode/2up/search/seraglio

    Another slightly modified and simpler version also appears in the book.

    https://archive.org/stream/toiletoffloraorc00buch#page/202/mode/2up/search/orrice

    There’s a reasonable chance that Andrew Pears would have read and been influenced by this book, as it was in print in London at the time that he became a barber and a cosmetics manufacturer. The soap recipes are unusual for their time in that they include a large amount of alcohol, which with the addition of glycerin and some tinkering, could have produced a transparent soap. Some of the requirements would have been to filter out the ground spices after alcohol extraction and to forgo the last steps involving gum and starch.

    If we take a look at some slightly later Violet soap recipes, we can see how the concentration of Orris powder is much lower, ranging from 2% to 8%, with around 4% being the average. Orange peel has also been added in most cases. Orange peel may have originally been used as a cheaper, more readily available alternative to the Orange flower water called for in the aforementioned recipes.

    A practical treatise on the manufacture of soap and candles (1888)

    https://archive.org/stream/apracticaltreat00schagoog#page/n516/mode/2up/search/violet

    A Treatise on the Manufacture of Soap and Candles, Lubricants and Glycerin (1895)

    https://archive.org/stream/atreatiseonmanu00wilsgoog#page/n248/mode/2up/search/violet

    Waikato Times (1884)

    http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=WT18840315.2.37.2

    The only Violet soap recipes cited so far which call for the use of any fragrant woods, are those found in the books, Abdeker and The Toilet of Flora. The woods that are called for are Yellow Sanders (Sandalwood) and St. Lucia Wood (St Lucie cherry wood). Andrew Pears used Cedar in his soap, which may suggest that he was adapting from one of these recipes in particular. Perhaps using what was most available to him at the time.

    However, the amount of Orris root powder called for in these two books is very high. Even if such
    amounts had been extracted in alcohol and then filtered out, the volume of the extract probably would have placed the Pears Fragrance Essence higher in the ingredients list than it was. It seems quite likely that Andrew Pears would have eventually decreased the amount of Orris root extract, or used a much smaller amount of Orris root essential oil (Orris butter), which is much more concentrated. If he didn’t then Unilever probably would have at some point. I have some Orris powder but I’ll order a sample of Orris butter and a couple of the synthetics that were in use by the 1980s, to see which most closely resembles the aroma on the Pears carton.

    The main issue for a large soap manufacturer will be the high level of Storax. The concentrations in the recipes above range from 1 to 3%, with around 1.5% being the average. The IFRA standards permit a maximum concentration of 0.6% Storax oil or resinoid in the finished soap. This would have forced a large company like Unilever to reformulate. Smaller soap manufacturers who sell directly to the end consumer will sometimes ignore IFRA standards, as they’re not laws as such. However, larger retailers may not then wish to buy their soap. If that is of importance to a manufacturer then they should probably stick to the IFRA limit of 0.6% and perhaps bolster it with a synthetic Storax replacer. For any hobby soap makers, these standards are irrelevant and you can use as much Storax as you like.

    The natural musk called for in these recipes is rarely used in soaps today and it’s likely that Unilever would have switched to using a synthetic form a very long time ago. Possibly one of the early nitro musks, which became widely available at the end of the 19th century. Most of the early nitro musks are now restricted by the IFRA but Cosmone, Velvione, Muscenone and Nirvanolide can be used to give a similar nitro musk effect.

    The Rosemary and Thyme extracts may have been spirits or waters (hydrolats) to begin with. The soap recipes in Abdeker and The Toilet of Flora, call for the use of “Sweet-scented Water” or “odoriferous water”. It’s possible that Andrew Pears chose to use Rosemary and Thyme waters for this purpose. However, if he had then omitted the starch and gum in these recipes, he may have found the excess liquid in the odoriferous water unhelpful. In which case he may have reduced the extracts down by evaporating the excess water or alcohol, or he may have switched to using concentrated oleoresins or absolutes.

    The post 2009 Pears soap has developed a strong aroma of Rosemary and Thyme, after a 12 month cure. The Rosemary smells much deeper than an essential oil, suggesting that an oleoresin has been used. Although it’s unlikely to be a typical Rosemary oleoresin extract (ROE) or antioxidant, which are often partially deodorized. It’s probably more similar to the Rosemary oleoresins that are used in the flavor industry, which still contain most of their natural aroma compounds.

    Approximate composition of the pre-2003 fragrance:

    Rosemary oleoresin
    Thyme oleoresin
    Distilled coal tar (possibly)

    Alcoholic tincture of:

    Orris root powder (or a small amount of Orris butter/absolute, or a synthetic)
    Orange peel
    Benzoin (aka Gum benjamin)
    Storax resinoid (Liquidambar orientalis or styraciflua)
    Atlas or Virginia cedarwood (or a small amount of the oil)
    Clove
    Cinnamon bark (Ceylon cinnamon)
    Nutmeg

    Essential oils of:

    Lavender
    Bergamot
    Clove
    Cinnamon
    Synthetic Musk (Musk xylene, Musk ketone or similar)

    • Coal Tar

      Coal tar may very well have been one of the ingredients in Pears, as there were adverts for Pears Coal Tar Soap in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

      http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=EP18880929.2.38.1

      http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=EP18900201.2.69.1

      http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/89435748
      (left column, two clicks down)

      However, Pears Coal Tar Soap was advertised as being separate from Pears Scented, so I’d like to propose another possibility.

      The concentrations of Storax in the old Violet soap recipes (1-2%) can be considered to be relatively high. I’ve noticed before that Storax reminds me of a sweet smelling coal tar fraction, such as naphthalene or dichlorobenzene. In The Art of Perfumery, Piesse states that Storax has the stench of coal-tar naphtha. Then going on to mention it’s divine like qualities, when used in lower concentrations.

      http://archive.org/stream/artperfumeryand03piesgoog#page/n168/mode/2up

      Add to that the unusually deep, resinous smell of Longleaf pine rosin and the phenolic, medicinal smells of Thyme and Clove and you could be forgiven for thinking that it contained Coal tar. The rosin often gave the soap a dark brown, translucent colour, which could also have added to the notion that it contained coal tar.

      However, the soap was also frequently bright amber/orange in colour, depending on how many colour bodies that the rosin contained. This often depended on the age of the trees that the rosin came from, aswel as the time of year that it was harvested.

      The colour of the pre-1997 bar is bright orange and yet it was made before the restrictions on coal tar. If coal tar was added then it would need to have been a refined fraction, so as to strip it of most of it’s colour. Either that or only a very small amount was used. I’d say that the jury is still out as to whether or not it contained any coal tar. For now, it would be better to focus on putting the rest of the formula together.

      However, I’ll list a few of the aroma compounds which are permitted by the IFRA, which a soap manufacturer could use to add a coal tar edge:

      3-Methylphenol (m-cresol) (odor: medicinal, woody, leather, phenolic)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1007701.html

      2-Methylphenol (o-cresol) (odor: medicinal, musty, phenolic)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1007721.html

      2,6-Dimethylphenol (2,6-Xylenol) (odor: sweet, medicinal, phenolic, tarry)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1035711.html

      2-Isopropylphenol (odor: medicinal, creosote, phenolic)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1036321.html

      4-Propylphenol (odor: sweet, medicinal, phenolic)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1045571.html

      1-Methyl naphthalene (odor: naphthyl, chemical, medicinal, camphor)
      http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1008021.html

      • Rosin (Sodium Rosinate)

        The Rosin that was used in Pears came from the Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), in the Southeastern United States. You may like to read the excerpts below:

        The Edinburgh New Dispensatory (1830)

        “P. palustris Ait.- Missisippi pine….Product: Boston turpentine;….resin for making soap, and the best tar for cordage.”

        http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=stoyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA546&lpg=PA546&dq=boston+turpentine+pinus&source=bl&ots=t33Z8c_H29&sig=g7DiGmvRmZwFKluR-Xb5ZQQBhOw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q3xyUovdCsHaswbE0IHACw&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

        The Encyclopaedia of Geography (1839)

        “It (Pinus palustris) is preferred to every other species of Pine, even in England, and is put to a great variety of uses both in civil and naval architecture….The United States are entirely dependent on this tree for the resinous matter so indispensable in ship-building; and which at present is obtained principally from the lower part of North Carolina. Forty thousand barrels were exported to Liverpool (England) alone in 1805, and it is besides sent to France, and makes it’s appearance at Paris under the name of Boston turpentine.”

        http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IHFBOi0JiDUC&pg=PA422&lpg=PA422&dq=boston+turpentine+pinus&source=bl&ots=gpZ6TtpkMO&sig=gC0YjUvJmzNKgXkMXCnobb8y_Qs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q3xyUovdCsHaswbE0IHACw&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=boston%20turpentine%20pinus&f=false

        A Treatise on the Manufacture of Soap and Candles, Lubricants and Glycerin (1895)

        “American rosin is characterised by a peculiarly fragrant smell, in which French rosin is deficient, and this smell is retained by the soap made from the rosin. During the American civil war, when no rosin was to be had from thence, the small stores of it in England were so much valued for this fragrance in soap that soapmakers were compelled to pay more for American rosin than for tallow.”

        https://archive.org/stream/atreatiseonmanu00wilsgoog#page/n86/mode/2up

        The Handbook of Soap Manufacture (1908)

        “Rosin is the residuum remaining after distillation of spirits of turpentine from the crude oleo-resin exuded by several species of the pine, which abound in America, particularly in North Carolina, and also flourish in France and Spain. The gigantic forests of the United States consist principally of the long-leaved pine, Pinus palustris (Australis), whilst the French and Spanish oleo-resin is chiefly obtained from Pinus pinaster, which is largely cultivated….”

        “The American variety possesses a characteristic aromatic odour, which is lacking in those from France and Spain.”

        http://archive.org/stream/handbookofsoapma004247mbp#page/n45/mode/2up

        Unfortunately, due to overexploitation and mismanagement, Pinus palustris is now regarded as a threatened species and gum rosin is no longer produced from it. There is a company that extracts wood rosin from the old tree stumps of this species but their minimum order is 500 lbs. I received some samples from them. The colour is reddish brown and the aroma is markedly different to the rosins of Pinus elliottii, Pinus pinaster, Pinus nigra and Pinus sylvestris. It has a much deeper aroma, reminding one perhaps of the smell of an old cello. After receiving a pre-1997 bar of Pears soap, I can confirm that the aroma is indicative of rosin from Pinus palustris in particular. I know of a small to medium sized soap manufacturer that are interested in creating a Pears type soap, so I’ve sent them all of the information. I’m not at liberty to mention their name at the moment. They may decide that 500 lbs is too much even for them.

        Many people were happy with the 2003-2009 Pears and weren’t aware that it was different to the original. If you were such a person, then I wouldn’t concern yourself too much as I can smell that Pinus palustris rosin wasn’t used in that version.

        Although none of the other rosins that I’ve sampled smell the same as that from Pinus palutrus, the next best to use would be that from Pinus pinaster. It too was often used for soap manufacture. It smells similar to the rosin from Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra but it has a much cleaner, fresher smell. That may be down to the specific batch though, I don’t know. I bought the Pinus pinaster rosin from the seller below. I asked him which species it was from but he was concerned that it might reveal the country of origin and therefore his supply. He needn’t have worried because Pinus pinaster grows throughout the Mediterranean. He reluctantly confirmed to me that it was from Pinus pinaster but I don’t recommend that you all ask him again.

        http://contact.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ShowAllQuestions&iid=140961516679&requested=endlessgreen&redirect=0&frm=2047675&ShowASQAlways=1&ssPageName=PageAskSellerQuestion_VI

        If any of you happen to live in the Southeastern United States, then you can probably find a few Pinus palustris trees to tap for your own gum turpentine, which can be distilled or simply evaporated to produce gum rosin. Just make sure that you’ve learnt how to tap trees correctly and that you have the landowner’s permission.

        There are continuing efforts to restore the Longleaf pine forests, through initiatives like the Longleaf Pine Initiative and America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, so hopefully one day the trees can be sustainably tapped for their gum rosin. There are already Longleaf pine plantation owners out there but none, to my knowledge are producing gum rosin. With the backing of a large soap manufacturer, or an alliance of smaller manufacturers, it might just happen.

        I hope that you appreciate the amount of time that went into this. I’ll be sure to update you with any future findings.

        Kind regards

        James

        • James, thank you for your indefatigable research on Pears soap. You’ve come up with some amazing information! I hope some soap maker takes advantage of your freely shared research and puts some product on ebay or Amazon. I think the word would spread and they would have a nice little money-maker on their hands. I for one, would pay twice what the unilever “product” retails for.

          Thanks again for sharing the results of your tireless efforts.

          • Hey Roland, thanks for the support. I missed a few grammatical errors yet again but I’m being pedantic.

            I should mention to everyone that the synthetics that I’ll be testing are alpha-ionone, beta-ionone and either alpha-methyl ionone or gamma-methyl ionone. The reason being that they have a long history of use in Violet fragrances, dating back to the late 19th century.

      • Hello James,

        I tried a trial batch using rosin from Pinus Sylvestris (which I had in stock). Based on my memory of the “woody” smell of Pears, I went for a high rosin content, 15% of oils. I believe that at the time, there was a rule of thumb that more than 15% should be avoided. It gave a fairly deep amber colour, darker than I remember. A subsequent batch batch with rosin from Pinus Elliotii was lighter. Following the discussions on this forum, I also added a vary small amount of pine tar, 0.25% on oils. This gave a VERY dark colour, substantially darker than my recollection. So I hypothesize that if tar was an ingredient in the basic (not tar) Pears, it was present in minute quantities.

        • Hi Martin, this is similar to my conclusion. Someone who used to work in the fragrance industry once told me that Pears soap used to be known in the industry as a coal tar soap. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they knew what they were talking about. If you see below, Pears ranged from a bright yellow to a dark maroon/brown, depending on which grade of rosin was used.

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/Iv5yb1duQqiRkDLp1cwWww

          If coal tar had been used then it would need to have been an isolated fraction with next to no colour, in order to produce a soap as bright and as clear as the sample in the left of the picture. Pears did once also sell a carbolic soap; carbolic acid being a coal tar isolate with no colour. However, I have some carbolic soap from Jamaica and it doesn’t really remind me of Pears, I have to say. Despite all of the circumstantial evidence that pointed towards the Pears that we new containing some form of coal tar, I’m not convinced. The section that I wrote above on coal tar, seems to provide the best explanation, for now.

    • Hi James,

      I saw your request for an Email address; You can contact me on …

      [Martin, your email address has been removed by greyhares admin as you risk ending up on spammers' lists. Best to go via the contact page on your web site]

    • Hi James,

      I saw your request for a contact Email. I responded with an Email address, but the Greyhares admin suggested that I might get spam-listed and that I should direct you to my website: http://www.savonnerie-alchimsite.com. You will find all my contact coordinates on the site.

    • Hello James,

      there was a typo in my earlier post, it should be http://www.savonnerie-alchimiste.com.

    • I’ve run a further check and Storax/Styrax resinoid/oil are also restricted by the Cosmetics Directive, to a concentration of 0.6%. A manufacturer can sometimes ignore the IFRA standards but the Cosmetics Directive is a compulsory law.

      http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details&id=80906
      http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details&id=80907

      Notice how the application date for the restriction is 2008, with a withdrawal date of 2009. The same date that Pears reformulated.

      Any manufacturer will therefore have to stick to the 0.6% limit. If they feel that it’s not quite enough, they can perhaps bolster it with a good synthetic Storax/Styrax replacer. Hobby soap makers can use as much Storax as they like, providing that they don’t place their soap on the market.

  3. Dear Greyhares, this is a preliminary report to address one of the more significant, negative results. To make this simpler for the reader, I’ll address the issue separately, before I go onto discuss some of the positive results in a few days time.

    If you remember back, I mentioned before that Pears once contained Rose otto. I also mentioned that they may have switched to using a synthetic Rose substitute at some point because the 2003-2009 version didn’t list citronellol or geraniol; allergens found in high concentrations in Rose otto (and natural Rose substitutes), which must by law be listed in the ingredients if present in a concentration above 0.01%.

    It wasn’t until I read a Pears advertisement from 1893 that I discovered the most likely reason why citronellol and geraniol hadn’t been listed in the pre 2009 ingredients. According to the advertisement (below), Pears was available in Scented, Unscented and Otto of Rose:

    “This is Pears’ unscented. There are three variations upon it; scented, otto of rose, and shaving stick. They arc all the same, except shape and perfume. There is also Pears’ Glycerine Soap, which is scented. (Some skins are wholesomely touched by glycerine; some are not. If yours is not, of course you avoid it in soap.) All equally fine as soaps; but perfume is costly; especially otto of rose. You may, or may not, care for it. The distinguishing features of Pears’ is this: the fineness is in the soap.”

    http://historicaltidbits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/1893-soap-ad-and-1869-soap-recipes.html

    Of the countless other Pears advertisements that I had read, none had made it clear that the Otto of Rose was anything other than the Scented variety. With this new finding, the most likely reason as to why citronellol and geraniol weren’t listed in the 2003-2009 version becomes clearer. Rather than having switched to using a synthetic Rose alternative, they most likely discontinued the Otto of Rose variety and continued to sell the Scented variety. The last advertisement for Pears Otto of Rose appeared in 1914, shortly before the War. It was also the year that Lever Brothers (soon to become Unilever) bought a major shareholding in the company, so this may have been one of the catalysts involved in the discontinuation of the Otto of Rose variety.

    Rose otto is among of the most expensive essential oils used in perfumery, so it would have made good financial sense to a large corporation such as Lever Brothers to discontinue it’s use in a niche product, which only the wealthy could afford.

    Besides Rose otto, the other fragrance components may very well have been the same in the Scented and the Otto of Rose varieties; there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Now that we’ve addressed this issue, we can focus on some of the preliminary, positive results, which I’ll discuss in a few days time.

    Your sincerely

    James

  4. After aging the post 2009 Pears soap for about 9 months, atleast one aspect of the aroma reminds me of the pre 2003 version. It’s the deep, balsamic, pine aroma. The smell on the whole doesn’t compare to the original but the deep, balsamic, pine note is similar. It’s not as complex as I remember, so they may have used a substitute. If I had to guess, I’d say that the original contained Pumilio pine (Pinus mugo) oil, because it has a balsamic, spicy, leathery undertone. It was the main component in the now discontinued Karvol decongestant capsules, so you may be able to remember the smell. It was available in Andrew Pears’ day in the form of Hungarian balsam. Krummholzöl or oleum templinum. I’ve ordered some Pumilio pine oil from Hungary, so I’ll hopefully be able to run some tests soon. If Pumilio pine oil doesn’t work then some of the other species that were used for pine oil at the time were Pinus sylvestris, Abies alba, Picea abies and Pinus cembra. I’ll let you all know my findings and thankyou for your support.

    Sources:

    The Edinburgh New Dispensatory (1805)

    “Hungarian balsam. – var. Mughos.”

    https://archive.org/stream/2561027R.nlm.nih.gov/2561027R#page/n305/mode/2up/search/hungarian

    Pharmacologia (1825)

    “HUNGARIAN BALSAM.-A spontaneous exudation from the P. Pumilio, or Mugho Pine.”

    https://archive.org/stream/61740710RX2.nlm.nih.gov/61740710RX2#page/n333/mode/2up/search/hungarian

    The London Medical Gazette (1837)

    “Pinus Pumilio, or the dwarf pine, allows an oleoresin to exude spontaneously from the extremities of the branches: this exudation is called Hungarian balsam; and by distillation there is procured an essential oil, called by the Germans Krummholzöl, or oleum templinum.”

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TPQaAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA935&lpg=PA935&dq=boston+turpentine+pinus&source=bl&ots=UqLv-p74Ty&sig=vOp6yIiHUnfEeBpy8DalgvLG_xQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q3xyUovdCsHaswbE0IHACw&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=pumilio&f=false

    • Whatever you do, don’t buy any Pumilio pine oil on ebay. I just received mine and it states on the label that it’s from Pinus sylvestris. That’s the wrong species, it should be Pinus mugo (var pumilio). I’ve now ordered some from Oshadhi, who are a reputable company. I can’t afford to be wasting money on mislabeled products. I bet you’re glad that you’re not the ones spending your money on testing. LOL

      • OK, after some testing I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not Pumilio pine.The smell that I recognized may have been a trace amount of Birch tar, which has a deep, herbal, piney smell when used in trace amounts. It also lends an aroma slightly reminiscent of sausage meat, which is a note that I can detect in the post 2009 Pears.

        However, after ruling out Pine oils, I’ve made considerable breakhroughs. I’ll write a full report in the next few weeks. In the meantime, merry Christmas to everyone.

  5. If as you state here:

    “I should point out that the data sheet states that it may cause cancer. This was the reason why Coal tar was restricted for use in cosmetics. However, no studies have shown a link to cancer for preparations containing up to 5% Coal tar. That’s why licensed products such as Neutrogena T/Gel are still allowed to contain Coal tar.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_tar#Safety

    It’s unlikely that Pears contained more than 1-2% Coal tar. If it had, then it would likely have placed Pears Fragrance Essence above the Thyme extract in the list of ingredients. Once it has been diluted to such a concentrated in the soap, it should be perfectly safe but the concentrated Black disinfectant should be handled with care.”

    why stop the use of it in Pears soap? There’s too many people in the world who are neurotic fear-mongers. They make it impossible for the rest of us. If you don’t like something, just avoid using it yourself, but let the rest of us alone to use it if we want to.

    • I agree, Louise. Coal tar was only restricted for use in cosmetic products, so products like Vosene, Wrights and Pears had to reformulate. Companies that have a license to produce medicines can use it in their products, so products like Neutrogena T/gel still contain it. The dates involved with the restriction are a little confusing though. Coal tar became restricted for use in cosmetics in 1997 (effective date 1998-1999) but other forms of coal tar weren’t restricted until 2004-2005.

      • This can tell you more:

        “Before a medicine can be sold in the UK, a number of licences are essential.

        The product itself must have a licence called a ‘marketing authorisation’ (formerly called a ‘product licence’). In addition, the companies that are involved in all stages of the manufacture and distribution of the product need to have licences (manufacturer’s and wholesale dealer’s licences). New products which are still in development also need a licence before they can be tested on human subjects (clinical trial authorisations).”

        http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Howweregulate/Medicines/Licensingofmedicines/

        The marketing authorisation number of Neutrogena T/gel shampoo is PL 08874/0014

        http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/20920/SPC

  6. Gee, I don’t seem to have any problem finding Pears Transparent Soap when I Google. Dollar Tree and dozens of other places offer it for sale. Why are you having such a hard time finding it?

    • Hi Louise, the problem is that Pears was reformulated and you can’t get the original anymore. If you do buy the new version, I recommend that you open the box, take it out of it’s plastic wrapper and let the soap age in a dry, dark place for 6 months. It will lose some of it’s moisture and harden up like the original and the fragrance will also mellow alot.

      • I’ll do it. Six months is a long time to wait, but I’m intrigued. I just don’t understand why they would change the original formula. Why not offer the original and the new version, both? Seems like that would be a perfect solution for the satisfaction of all.

        • Louise, they can’t offer the original because it contained Coal tar, which was banned for use in cosmetics in 2003 (effective date 2004-2005). Well, the original in 1807 may not have contained Coal tar but the version sold from the 1880s onwards certainly did. From 2003-2009, a half decent reformulated version was sold but without any Coal tar. Some of the other fragrance components also appeared to change. This may have been down to the fact that new EU regulations forced companies to list many components that were previously covered by the term fragrance or parfum. Many companies during this period chose to reformulate, so that they wouldn’t have to list so many components in the ingredients, or because the use of some of the ingredients had become restricted.

          Possibly down to a decrease in sales of Pears upon the 2003-2009 reformulation, Unilever decided to cut their losses and focus on producing a cheaper, poorer quality soap, to increase their sales in developing countries. This new version was regarded as an abomination by many. The fragrance formula had changed once again and without the traditional aging period, the soap smelt harsh and offensive. If you take the soap out of it’s plastic wrapper and store it in a dry, dark place for several months, the sharp top notes will largely dissipate and you’ll have a deeper, more mellow smelling soap. You should be able to smell that they’ve used a Rose fragrance, along with something deep and piney. It won’t smell much like the original but perhaps just a little. However, the new version does contain some additional allergens, so if you have sensitive skin, test it on a small patch of skin first.

          • Does it still contain the pine resins? I would assume they list all the current ingredients on the packaging.

            If coal tar was banned in 2003, and I know of many products having contained coal tar, what are they using in its place? I’m thinking in particular of the soap, Neutrogena, which contained coal tar also. I was a hairdresser/cosmetologist years ago and I always recommended Neutrogena soap to my customers for their eczema and psoriasis conditions because of the coal tar it contained. It helped them tremendously. This is so surprising. How can they just decide to ban something without any in depth public discussion, or was there? If that’s the case, I’ve been out of touch for a long time. So what are they using now?

          • Louise, yes they still use rosin but it must now be listed as sodium rosinate. Pears always contained sodium rosinate. Rosin is the raw material added before it saponifies to sodium rosinate, Whether they use the same amount of rosin is debatable though.

            Regarding the Coal tar, I’ve already wriiten a little about this below.

            “I should point out that the data sheet states that it may cause cancer. This was the reason why Coal tar was restricted for use in cosmetics. However, no studies have shown a link to cancer for preparations containing up to 5% Coal tar. That’s why licensed products such as Neutrogena T/Gel are still allowed to contain Coal tar.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_tar#Safety

            If you scroll down about four messages, you can also read a whole section I wrote on coal tar.

            To answer your other question, they don’t appear to have added anything to replicate the odor of coal tar; unlike Wrights soap, which now contains a coal tar fragrance as a substitute for coal tar.

  7. It’s not cheap but if anyone wished to try a rosin soap besides Pears, Spirited Soaps make one. It’s only scent is from the pine resin and Islay Whiskey.

    http://spiritedsoaps.com/shop/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=11

    It may smell fairly similar to the early prototype that Andrew Pears made because he aged the soap in brandy barrels, which gave the soap a distinctive aroma. See the Pears soap exhibit below for more information.

    http://www.mevagisseymuseum.co.uk/musexhibits.html

    • I’ve got a soap book that offers a Sandalwood and Rosin Soap that I’m going to try one of these days. According to the book, by Country Living, rosin actually helps create lather, which I find fascinating, but that “brandy barrel” aging you spoke of sounds very intriguing. What a concept!

      • Louise, if you’re in the US then I recommend that you source your rosin from Diamond G Forest Products. They sell rosin harvested from Pinus elliottii, one of the closest relatives of the species that was historically used for soap making, Pinus palustris. The smell is different to the rosin of other pines, having a warm, spicy note.

        http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-lb-Pine-Gum-Rosin-Colophony-/280811358909?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4161a94abd

        http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-lb-Powdered-Pine-Gum-Rosin-Colophony-/280911004373?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item416799c2d5

        • Thanks for this information, James. I had previously made a purchase of rosin from an online art supplies website, but it didn’t given specific information about the rosin.

          I went right to that website you mentioned and made a purchase of their rosin. I think I’m going to be a whole lot happier with that purchase.

          Thanks for your wealth of information. You’ve certainly done a huge amount of research. It’s greatly appreciated.

          • I’m glad to be of help, Louise. I try to be very thorough in my research, people want to hear facts not assumptions. Regarding the rosin, please bear in mind that it won’t have much of a smell unless you crush, heat or saponify it. If you wish to test the aroma before you’ve made any soap, then put a small piece on some tin foil and hold it a few inches above a flame, until it begins to melt. I’ll post some more interesting information about rosin in a few days but people need some time to digest what I’ve already written.

        • Hello James,

          You recommended a US supplier of rosin from Pinus elliottii or Pinus palustris. Do you happen to know a supplier in the EU?

  8. At the request of Martyn, I’ve decided to post some of my findings, even though there is still much testing to do. I should warn you that this is quite an extensive report and there’s alot to process.

    Rosemary & Thyme Extracts

    Rosemary extract is often used in soap making as an antioxidant, to stop the fat from turning rancid. I therefore suspect that both the Rosemary and Thyme extracts were indeed solvent extracts and not essential oils. If they had been used solely for the purpose of fragrance then they would likely have been included in the Pears Fragrance Essence, rather than listed separately. That probably rules out enfleurage extracts, which were expensive and used specifically for their fragrance. Other common forms of extraction were alcohol extraction and hot water extraction. It’s more likely that the extracts used in Pears were originally made using one of these methods. When the alcohol or water is evaporated off, the extract that is left behind contains alot of substances besides the essential oil (unlike some of the more selective solvents used today). They typically have a concentration not more than 10:1, meaning that they’re not usually more than 10 times more concentrated than the original herb. Dried Thyme usually doesn’t contain much more than 2.5% essential oil, so the oil content in a typical 10:1 extract is unlikely to be more than 25%. You’d therefore need to use alot less essential oil than you would extract, if you intended to substitute essential oils for the extracts.

    Coal Tar

    I can now confirm that Pears soap contained coal tar. I remembered Pears having a medicinal, tarry aroma in my childhood but I wasn’t sure if it was down to Coal tar, Birch tar or Cade oil. It was an advert in an Australian newspaper from 1901 that finally confirmed to me that it was coal tar. If you scroll down a couple of clicks in the link below, you’ll see in the left column an advert for Pears Coal Tar Soap. For a time, unscented and unscented + coal tar versions were made available, to cater to those who couldn’t afford the fully scented original.

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/89435748

    Now for the bad news. Coal tar and it’s distillates were banned for use in cosmetics in 2004-2005. This would partly explain why I noticed a change in the aroma of Pears soap some years before the 2009 reformulation. You can see the relevant documents here.

    http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details&id=28768

    Only companies with a license to use coal tar in medicated products may use it. Neutrogena’s T/Gel is one example, containing 0.5-1% coal tar. Unilever are responsible for ruining many of the other qualities of Pears soap but this is one ingredient that they actually had no choice but to remove.

    If you want to buy a concentrated form of coal tar like Coal Tar Solution, for use in your own soap, you’ll need a prescription from the doctor. You’ll need to have a skin condition like psoriasis in order to get a prescription. Or perhaps a friend or family member with a skin condition could get some for you. Failing that, you’ll have to use a substitute like naphthalene powder and perhaps a little Birch tar oil for the phenolic, tarry odour. Coal tar typically contains around 9-12% Naphthalene. You can buy moth balls on Ebay which are 99% Naphthalene powder. Birch tar oil is also relatively easy to source online. It won’t smell exactly the same as coal tar but it will give a similar, tarry aroma, to act as a backdrop for the other ingredients. I suspect that a 2% concentration of Birch tar in the fragrance blend would be enough, as it would need to be fairly subtle. You could probably use up to 4% naphthalene in the fragrance formula. The solubility of naphthalene in ethanol is 7.7g/100ml, if anyone wishes to dissolve it before adding it to the soap. Naphthalene is an irritant in high concentrations, so you should handle it with care.

    Rose Otto

    The next component is Rose otto. From 1885 to 1914, advertisements for Pears soap mentioned that it was perfumed with Otto of Rose. If you take a look at the print near the bottom of this advertisement from 1885, it reads:

    “TABLETS and BALLS, One Shilling each. Larger Sizes, 1s. 6d. and 2s. 6d
    The 2s. 6d. Tablet is perfumed with Otto of Roses.”

    http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/evanion/FullImage.aspx?EvanID=024-000004237&ImageId=51920

    2s. 6d. was two shillings and sixpence, for anyone who’s too young to remember. The other tablets that were offered in the advertisement were unscented.

    Rose otto is very expensive and so it too was omitted from the ingredients some time before the 2009 reformulation. Probably a long time before. Pears soap was once a luxury item for the wealthy, 2 shillings and sixpence in 1807-1914 was equivalent to £8-11 in today’s money. You could afford to add rose otto if you were charging that much for a bar of soap. The last advertisements to mention Rose otto were in 1914, just before the war. This was also the year that Lever Brothers (later to become Unilever) bought a major shareholding in the company. If Rose otto had been present in an appreciable amount in the 2003-2009 version, they would by law have had to list the components citronellol and geraniol in the ingredients, which they didn’t do. They also couldn’t have been using a cheaper alternative like Rose geranium or Palmarosa at the time because they also contain a high proportion of citronellol and geraniol.

    It’s therefore likely that they had switched to using a synthetic alternative by that time. Perhaps phenylethyl alcohol (Rose alcohol), which occurs naturally in roses and which is often used to fragrance soaps. You can buy it online from Hermitage Oils or Olfactik. However, it could be that they did at some earlier point use Rose geranium as a substitute for Rose otto. In which case, they may have eventually switched to using a synthetic alternative that more closely resembled Rose geranium instead of Rose otto, to give customers a sense of continuity. If that were the case then they may have used something like diphenyl oxide, which is often used in soaps to give a geranium like scent. It’s not that easy to source in small amounts online though. Perfumers World appear to sell it but their ordering system seems to be faulty. I’ve just received some Phenylethyl alcohol and Rose geranium oil, so it would probably be best to wait until I’ve had a chance to test these first. You could use Rose otto but it would add atleast £2 ($3) to the cost of each bar, for a 0.1% concentration in the soap. That could turn out to be a pointless expenditure, when there’s a good chance that they were already using a substitute for Rose otto before most of us were born.

    Cedar Oil

    Next we have cedar oil. This was the literature on Pears soap boxes pre 2003:

    “In November 1807 Andrew Pears discovered
    a unique process for making pure, transparent
    soap. This method of mellowing and ageing
    each long lasting Pears Bar, for over two months,
    is still used today. Natural oils and pure glycerine
    are combined with the delicate fragrance of
    ~ rosemary, cedar and thyme.”

    The term Cedar is used for many unrelated species. If we were to go by the strictest definition, then only the species in the genus Cedrus are true cedars. That would narrow it down to three or four species. Cedrus atlantica and Cedrus deodara are commonly used today to make essential oil but in the distant past it was Cedrus libani that was used, largely because of it’s biblical significance (it was used to build King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, etc). If we read the section on cedar in The Art Of Perfumery, first published in 1857, we can see that Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani) was used in soaps and handkerchief perfumes.

    http://archive.org/stream/artperfumeryand04piesgoog#page/n98/mode/2up

    If we then read further, Piesse states that since the time of the first edition, large amounts of cedar oil from the Virginian cedar (Juniperus virginiana) had entered the market place. Pears soap was first made in 1807, which tells us that Lebanon cedar oil was the more likely to have been used in the original soap. However, that’s not to say that they didn’t switch to using the much cheaper Virginian cedar oil after it became available. The pre 2009 Pears soap sample smells closer to Virginian cedar oil than any of the Cedrus species but the odour from the rosin may be effecting things.

    Other Ingredients

    I have a good idea about what some of the other ingredients might have been. The ingredients in the pre 2009 version listed cinnamal and eugenol. Cinnamal (cinnamaldehyde) is only found in high concentrations in Ceylon Cinnamon (upto 75%) and closely related species like Cassia (Chinese cinnamon) (upto 90%). Eugenol is found in many species but most notably in clove oil (upto 90%). However Ceylon cinnamon bark oil contains upto 6% eugenol, so the main source for both the cinnamal and eugenol could be Cinnamon bark oil. Cinnamon bark oil is a moderate skin sensitiser, so they probably wouldn’t have used too much of it.

    Linalool and limonene are also listed in the ingredients. These are found in many species, including Rosemary and Thyme. However, if the Rosemary and Thyme extracts were typical 5:1-20:1 extracts, they would be relatively low in essential oil content. In which case, the linalool and limonene could be predominately from something else. Bergamot oil, for example, contains a high proportion of both linalool and limonene (<23% and <54%, respectively) and it was frequently used in fragrances and soaps throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. It has an aroma similar to Orange zest and Lavender. I can detect something very similar in the pre 2009 soap but the sample is old and the aroma too faint to be certain. There is some circumstantial evidence that Bergamot may have been used also. In the book "American Library Edition Of Workshop Receipts", published in 1903, we can see how Bergamot oil was used in the Rosin soap (Honey Soap), Glycerine Soap and in the Rose Soap. The original Pears soap contained Rosin, Glycerin and Rose. Notice also how Rose geranium is used in all three soaps.

    http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/mechanics/Workshop-Receipts-1/Perfuming-Soaps.html#.UmVBF22FfKf

    Furthermore, if we take a look at the article "Soap Recipes From A Hundred Years Ago", we can see how the Rose-Glycerine Soap and Sunflower-Glycerine Soap both use Rose substitutes along with Bergamot oil.

    http://www.all-naturalsoap.com/Old-FashionedSoapRecipes.pdf

    Take note of the Benzoin-Glycerine Soap recipe because it leads onto the other ingredients that I wish to address.

    Benzyl benzoate is listed in the ingredients of Pears soap. This is commonly used in the fragrance industry as a solvent and as a fixative to give fragrances greater longevity. However, like limonene, linalool, cinnamal and eugenol, it too must be listed in the ingredients even if it's a natural component of another ingredient. It's naturally found in Peru balsam and Tolu balsam and to a much lesser degree in Siam benzoin. These were all commonly used in perfumery and for the purpose of treating skin ailments in Andrew Pears's day. Each smells different from the other but they all have a somewhat balsamic, fruity, vanillic aroma to them. The box of my pre 2009 Pears soap sample has a strong fruity, vanilla aroma. It's not an exact match to either of these, more like a combination of them. I strongly suspect that they've used a synthetic alternative to mimic one or more of these ingredients. I remember Pears soap once having a deep, balsamic odour to it and these materials remind me of it, much more so than the synthetic substitute that I detect in the pre 2009 sample.

    I hope that I've now given you a better idea of the most likely components that were in Pears soap and that you find the amount of research that went into this satisfactory. There is still much testing to do and I'll keep you updated with my findings.

    A rough estimate of the odoriferous ingredients once used, not in any particular order:

    Rosin (saponifies to Sodium rosinate)
    Rosemary extract powder (you could use a much smaller amount of Rosemary CO2 extract or oleoresin)
    Thyme extract powder (you could use a much smaller amount of a CO2 extract, oleoresin or Red Thyme oil)
    Peru balsam, Tolu balsam, or Siam benzoin (or a combination)
    Coal tar, crude or distilled
    Rose otto, Rose geranium, Geranium, Palmarosa or synthetic Rose/Geranium fragrance
    Bergamot oil (only use "FCF" grade on skin)
    Cedarwood oil (originally libani, now most likely Virginiana, or possibly Atlas or Deodara)
    Cinnamon bark oil or Cassia oil
    Clove bud or leaf oil

    • I checked that all of the links were working earlier today. If some of them don’t work when you click on them, it may be down to there being too much internet traffic. In which case, try them again at a later time.

      • Testing has stalled until a new order of Bergamot oil arrives. I mentioned Olfactik in my post above but I now don’t recommend that you use them. Their Bergamot oil and Cassia oil have been adulterated, so I recommend using Hermitage oils instead.

        • I’ve now discovered that the information in the second last link that I gave above, comes from an even earlier source. It was originally from The Art of Manufacturing Soap and Candles, published in 1867. This was just 60 years after the creation of Pears soap. You can see how Rose geranium oil and Bergamot oil were used in the Resin soap (Honey soap), Glycerine soap and in the Rose soap. Use the magnifier in the right bottom corner to adjust the magnification.

          https://archive.org/stream/artmanufacturin00ottgoog#page/n112/mode/2up

          Below is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a now discontinued Coal Tar Fragrance Oil. We can see how they used Rosemary and Thyme, Cinnamal and Eugenol, which strongly suggests that they were trying to mimic the aroma of Pears Coal Tar Soap. What’s interesting is that they used Diphenyl oxide, which has an aroma closer to Geranium leaf than Rose. Why would they have chosen a Geranium fragrance over a Rose fragrance? It suggests that they believed, or knew that Pears had switched from using a Rose fragrance to a Geranium fragrance at some point.

          http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CGcQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justasoap.co.uk%2Fmedia%2Fcustom%2Fupload%2FFile-1368025998.pdf&ei=Ttp4UvH2KYzDtAbpw4HYCA&usg=AFQjCNHN87R0M9EkVPT8q92FHKeh4yjc4w&bvm=bv.55980276,d.Yms

          Notice also how they used Rosemary oil and Thymol (from Thyme) in similar amounts to the Diphenyl oxide, Cinnamal and Eugenol. This suggests that they may have known that although Rosemary Extract and Thyme Extract were listed before Pears Fragrance Essence and therefore present in larger quantities, the essential oil content in the extracts was quite low. This would suggest that the Rosemary Extract and Thyme Extract weren’t the biggest contributors to the aroma, despite being present in greater quantities than the Pears Fragrance Essence.

          • I’ve received some Tonka beans, which I’ll soak in alcohol for a few weeks. A recipe in one of the links I gave called for Tonka tincture. Tonka has a somewhat fruity, vanillic aroma, so it needs to be tested. I hope that you appreciate reading these little updates, they’re just to let you know that things are gradually progressing. Stay tuned.

          • I have some good news. I’ve found a source for Coal tar that doesn’t require a prescription. It’s called Black disinfectant in the UK, or sometimes Coal tar disinfectant. I’m testing the one below because the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists the Coal tar fractions that are used, where as many of the other brands don’t. Those that do sometimes only list a single fraction. This one contains three different fractions, which should give it a fuller aroma. I believe that it also contains a liquid soap but it may be a detergent. That probably wouldn’t matter, if say 5 ml per bar of soap was enough. If you choose to use another brand, you should first search on line for the MSDS. If it lists sodium hydroxide in the ingredients (the one below doesn’t) then you’d have to add some additional fat or oil to the soap to neutralise the sodium hydroxide (eg. 7 times as much tallow or palm oil as sodium hydroxide, weight for weight).

            http://www.pestcontrolonline.com/~pestcont/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=black+disinfectant

            I should point out that the data sheet states that it may cause cancer. This was the reason why Coal tar was restricted for use in cosmetics. However, no studies have shown a link to cancer for preparations containing up to 5% Coal tar. That’s why licensed products such as Neutrogena T/Gel are still allowed to contain Coal tar.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_tar#Safety

            It’s unlikely that Pears contained more than 1-2% Coal tar. If it had, then it would likely have placed Pears Fragrance Essence above the Thyme extract in the list of ingredients. Once it has been diluted to such a concentrated in the soap, it should be perfectly safe but the concentrated Black disinfectant should be handled with care.

          • If any soap manufacturers are reading this, you can use Lysol BP to give the soap a mild Coal tar like fragrance but it would probably benefit from the addition of a trace amount of Birch tar oil or something similar. Lysol contains cresylic acid (mixed cresols) in a liquid soap base. Unlike phenol and naphthalene, cresols are permitted for use in cosmetics. Lysol BP is often used in mock carbolic soap because carbolic acid (phenol) is now restricted in the EU for use in cosmetics.

            http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details&id=35382

            http://www.delf-uk.com/shop/product/lysol-5-litre-m-ds07/

            For those of you who aren’t soap manufacturers or retailers, Coal tar would be more favorable because of it’s more complex aroma but if you do use it, it must only be for personal use. You must not sell or distribute the soap.

        • Below is an even earlier advertisement for Pears coal tar soap.

          http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=EP18880929.2.38.1

    • Actually, the treatment of coal tar in the new EU regulations is a bit ambiguous. On the one hand, the Scientific Committee that works for the EU Commission has given a negative opinion on coal tar in cosmetics. On one hand, crude and refined coal tar is in the Annex II of prohibited substances. But coal tar is also found later in the same Annex with the remark: “if it contains > 0,005 % w/w benzo[a]pyrene”. To me, this is not clear.

      Wood tar is alternative. In Scandinavia, we use wood tar to preserve wood and it is readily available for that purpose.

  9. James,

    After the demise of the ‘old’ Pears’ soap, I emailed the company, explaining why I wouldn’t be using the new version; saying that it was was likely to prompt me to become a novice soapmaker in consequence; and wondering if there was any chance that now ‘old’ Pears’ was defunct, I might be allowed to know the composition of the Fragrance Essence, since that smell was just…. well, the bees knees, and I’d love to get my potential homemade soap smelling just-like-that.

    To my surprise, I received a courteous, professional, and detailed reply, amongst which, however, was confirmation of the confidentiality of the recipe.

    Since then, I’ve taught myself to make soap, and did some Pears’ research. I plumped for staying with CP soap (easier for beginners), while attempting to emulate the woodsy Pears’ smell. In case it is of interest, the results were:

    1) Both my pine tar, and birch tar, soap experiments were unsuccessful at replicating the pine/balsam hint. Likewise, using siberian fir essential oil. So, rosin seems to be key.
    2) Rosemary essential oil swiftly evaporates off at low temperatures, hence the soap should cool somewhat before incorporating, unless desiring to scent the air (as I did), rather than the soap. Perhaps this is why the old ingredient label states rosemany/thyme extract, rather than oil?
    3) Rosin research led me to Catherine Failor’s book, alcohol supplies to ‘The Soap Kitchen’ as a UK source.

    And there I stalled, stuck fathoming the complexities of differing rosins, unwilling to buy more essential oils and colophonies that might prove unsuitable, and reticent to start transparent soapmaking without having come close to replicating the Pears’ smell…

    On the other hand, I’ll never need to buy another bar of ‘soap’ in my life. When supplies run low, I just make a block of the real stuff.

    Coming across the details of your progress was a delight, I send you my admiration and congratulations, and look forward to your ‘scent’ conclusions.

    • Hi Gill, it’s nice to hear from you, thankyou for the compliment. Can you tell me at what concentration you used the Birch tar and what you blended it with? Pears soap contained Coal tar. You could use Birch tar oil as a substitute, along with naphthalene powder but the amounts should be low, so as to not stick out too much. A concentration of 0.05-0.1% Birch tar and 0.2% Napthalene in the finished soap would probably be enough. If you have a skin condition or know someone who does, then you may be able to get a bottle of Coal tar solution (20-40%). In which case, 0.5% coal tar or 1-2% of the solution would probably be enough.

      • Hello James,

        I used 10mls of birch tar in 1300g of oils. I don’t have the MSDS sheet for the birch tar, but on the web its specific gravity is listed at 1.13-1.35. So that would be 0.87-1.04% in relation to the oils. At that percentage, the aroma was much too powerful. Overpowering. The base oils used in the soap weren’t meant to replicate Pears’, at 26% pomace, 30% coconut, 34% palm, 5% avocado, 5% castor.

        I used 50% ‘tallow’ (basic dripping, not true suet) in the soap where I added rosemary esential oil, but accidentally evaporated most of it off… hence no indication of its preservative effects on the fat. As a soap, the ‘tallow’ gave it a mildness and hardness. The bars last for ages.

        I remember looking at coal tar – and carbolic – soaps, but the coal tar legislation was already in effect, so no go. That was when I switched to trying pine and birch tars.

        One of the essential oil blends which did well, after CP cure, included cedarwood atlas, cinnamon leaf and bergamot. Again, nothing like Pears’ as it stood, and unpromising in the ‘young’ soap, but after several weeks’ cure it was better, and continued to improve with time. It gave a musky, woodsy undertone, but without the balsam depth and resinous hints, aka rosin and… from reading your latest findings, actual balsam/benzoin. You know, it never crossed my mind to try any of those. Interestingly, the bergamot oil changed character in this blend: without knowing it was there, I doubt I could have named it after a couple of months. Not what I normally associate with its strong vibrancy.

        Fascinating reading about the different cedars!

        • Hi Gill, 0.87-1.04% Birch tar would indeed be too much. I made a similar mistake when I first tried using it in blends. I think that 0.05-0.1% would be much closer to what’s needed but it would be a good idea to mix up a tiny amount of the fragrance blend to test on blotters first. However, if you wish to use genuine Coal tar, please read my latest post above. I’ve just bought 5 L of Black disinfectant from the site that I linked to and it has the distinctive smell of Coal tar. The downside is that you have to order 5 L of it. which costs £28, including VAT and delivery. Although the up side is that you’d have enough to last a life time. If you’re in the UK, I could send you a square of tissue paper soaked in it, so that you can see how the aroma develops upon the dry down and if it’s something that you’d like to buy.

          • Gill, I think that it was a good idea for you to use Cinnamon leaf oil. I suspected that Clove oil or Cinnamon leaf were the main sources of the eugenol listed in the ingredients of Pears. The only other spice with such a high eugenol content is Allspice. I’ve tried using Cinnamon leaf oil in the past and it didn’t quite work but that was most likely down to what it was blended with. I then switched my attention to Clove because it was heavily used in many old soap recipes. However, I now suspect that it was indeed Cinnamon leaf oil that was used in Pears. I’ll try to explain my reasons. Below is an MSDS for a discontinued Coal tar fragrance. They clearly tried to replicate the aroma of Pears in particular because they used Rosemary, Thyme, diphenyl oxide (rose/geranium odor), cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamal) and eugenol. In the allergens section near the bottom, it lists benzyl benzoate and cinnamic alcohol. This is very useful information because the percentage of these in relation to the eugenol exactly fits the compositional profile of Cinnamon leaf oil.

            http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CGsQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justasoap.co.uk%2Fmedia%2Fcustom%2Fupload%2FFile-1368025998.pdf&ei=jUOKUpefE8mZtAaFloHgCA&usg=AFQjCNHN87R0M9EkVPT8q92FHKeh4yjc4w&bvm=bv.56643336,d.Yms

            However, the large amount of cinnamic aldehyde that’s listed indicates that something besides Cinnamon leaf oil was also used because Cinnamon leaf oil only contains <3% cinnamic aldehyde. They couldn't have used Cassia for the cinnamic aldehyde because it contains <4% coumarin, an allergen that must be listed if present. They would therefore almost certainly have used either Cinnamon bark oil or synthetic cinnamic aldehyde, along with Cinnamon leaf oil. The cinnamic aldehyde and eugenol are present in roughly equal measure, which tells us that roughly equal amounts of Cinnamon leaf oil (<85% eugenol) and Cinnamon bark oil (<75% cinnamic aldehyde) or synthetic cinnamic aldehyde would have been used.

            Now that we can be confident that Cinnamon leaf oil was used, we can take a look at which other substances are known to blend well with it. If you click on the "blenders" tab in the link below, you can see how Atlas cedar, Siam benzoin, Peru balsam, Bergamot, Geranium, Palmarosa and Tonka are listed as blenders. Most of the things that have already been mentioned here. This could help to narrow down the Cedar that was used in Pears to Atlas cedar, rather than Deodara or Virginiana. Although it was most likely Lebanon cedar that was used originally, that was long before we were born. The type of Geranium oil listed is Bourbon, which I already have, so I'll switch to testing that instead of Rose geranium. It's good to know that I'm not the only one out there who's doing their own testing.

            http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/es1655061.html

  10. I am recovering from a kidney infection needing to take antibiotics. Used the “new improved” soap and my skin got burned. Apparently some people are alllergic to PEG-4. Why is this ingredient necessary in the soap. Please use with caution

    • Hello Doryne,

      If you need a soap without chemical additives, there are alternatives. I make bespoke soaps and cosmetics for people with sensitive skins and generally do not use preserving agents, chemicals or perfumes. However, I am located in France, so you may be better off finding a craft manufacturer closer to home. You can have a look at the website of the Guild of Craft Soap & Toiletry Makers. I am a member, but most of the members are in the UK. website: http://www.gcstm.co.uk/

      If you do not find what you are looking for, feel free to get in touch via my company website
      http://www.savonnerie-alchimiste.com.

      You can flip the site to English by clicking the Union jack in the upper right hand corner.

  11. Jupiter Soaps are now offering the pre 2009 version again. Five bars for £12, including delivery within the UK. I must stress once again that the pre 2009 version is not the true original, it’s just alot closer to the original than the post 2009 version.

    http://www.lifebuoy.co.uk/pears-transparent.htm

    • Jupiter Soaps have now sold out of the pre 2009 Pears soap, so I hope that you got your orders in on time. They have been out of stock before and then come into more stock, so it might be worth visiting their site from time to time..

  12. This is a brief update for everyone. I have now discovered two ingredients that I know for sure were in Pears Fragrance Essence and another two that I have good reason to believe were in it. I still have to work on finding the right ratios, which may take several weeks but I’ll update everyone as soon as I’ve finished. That’s not to say that I’ll find an exact match. I should say that one of the ingredients is difficult to obtain and that you may have to make your own but I’ll discuss how you can do that, if you have the drive to do so.

    For now, I’ll leave you with a clip from the old Pears factory in Middlesex, showing how Pears soap was molded, cut, polished and stored during the aging process.

    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/transparent-soap

    • What a find that old newsreel is James – and the ‘El Ingles’ bullfighter clip at the end is a special bonus!!

      The soap was quite literally hand made and matured for months back then – what price progress, eh?

    • Hi James.
      I have just read this page.
      How is your recipe for Pears Transparent Soap going??
      Would it be possible for you to send me or post your recipe so far??
      Thanks mate.

  13. Being as I am rather a computer illiterate I have no idea how to do this myself…but…if anyone here has the acumen, (or has a grandchild who does) why don’t we start an online petition campaign against Unilever? After all, if they will, for the sake of profit, destroy a universally loved, trusted and, to so many people necessary traditional brand, they will do the same to anything that they produce (such as ice cream) for the same base motive- sheer greed. Something that no one seems to mention is how the change in formula and production of Pears soap must have adversely affected those whose livelihoods depended on its manufacture. This is something that the public just might want to know.

    I no longer buy Pears so I don’t know if the Queen’s endorsement still adorns the packaging, but if it does it should not. We could launch a second online petition to have the Queen remove her endorsement- after all, it is no longer the same product as that which she endorsed, is it? Does the Queen get a ‘kick-back’ for such endorsements? If so, isn’t she culpable? Her continued support of this product amounts to false advertising. This could make some press that just might lever Unilever into re-instating the original formula. If nothing else it could remove the Queen’s approval and alert an unsuspecting public to the vile nature of this monster corporation. Let’s do it!

    • That is a damn good idea. Let’s all get behind it.
      I have a close friend who is a columnist for the Daily Mail, will be a start.

    • i think this is a fantastic idea. Though i dont think it will change their minds to bring back the old product (because they are just interested in their profits) but at least they will get a gist of how serious we are. They should really feel ashamed of themselves for destroying such a good product and having the cheek to still call it “Pears”

  14. Pears has become a mere “product” which has to be optimized in order to “extract” the maximum profit.

    Quote from the brand managers:

    “Although some levels of investment are required, focus is the key element in extracting value from “heritage” brands.”

    These people have no interest in preserving the original formula. Rather they have reformulated the soap to make a maximum profit. (i.e. so it wont last as long as the original, so they don’t need to mature it, so it costs less to manufacture)

    So, don’t expect ANYTHING from Unilever or the “brand managers”, they are not interested in what was once the original Pears soap.

    If you feel you want to comment to them do it here

    http://www.certbrands.co.uk/The-Pears-Story.php
    info@certbrands.co.uk

    other reading:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jan/12/pears-soap-changed-formula
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pears_soap

    • Rupert, I know in my heart that you’re right, but the older I get, the more determined I become never to go down without a fight (or at least a few pertinent words). Perhaps there is a way to wrest control of the original formula and put it into the hands of a company that would honour it…far-fetched but who knows? Or something like the turn-around that occurred regarding the huge outcry when Cola-Cola tampered with their recipe. ‘Classic Coke’ was spawned over that one. Why not ‘Pears Classic’? After all, they could charge more for it, and cover both markets- the ‘Walmart’ roll-back shoppers and those who were devoted to the older, better quality version of this once exemplary product.

  15. Just received 4 bars of the real thing from eBay for which I paid entirely too much but did so gladly. Nostalgia is a terrible strong thing, but who would think they’d change Pears Soap of all things!

    • Are you sure you bought the real thing?
      I would like to see the link for the eBay sale.
      I am really intrigued

      • You can buy the pre 2009 Pears soap on ebay but it’s ridiculously expensive. Five bars for £110 ($169). I’d save your money. It’s not the true original anyway because they’d already omitted atleast two fragrance ingredients, years before the 2009 reformulation.

        • Those prices were from ebay.co.uk. You can buy four bars on ebay.com for $44, which although expensive is more reasonable. It’s only worth buying if you were happy with the version that was sold just prior to 2009. This was similar to the original but not exactly the same, as they had already reformulated once before in 2004-2005.

          Editor’s note: Your link to eBay has been removed, as the link would soon be out of date. Anyone interested in buying the old formula soap can easily find the latest offer via Google!

      • Seller from Canada now has three sets of 3 X 75g up for $60 USD ($75 total with shipping). I won’t pay that, but I’m sure somebody will. I got the $44 for 4 X 125g bars. Somebody snapped up the rest just as I was going to go back and buy more. They are as I remember Pears to be, the scent perhaps is milder because it is old. The Canadian ones look as they should, too.

        Someone, I’m sure, will be able to copy the original at some point. It would be an instant seller for whomever could replicate it.

  16. Pears’ Soap – I used it for decades, even after moving away from the UK and living in Switzerland for eight years and then Holland for the past thirty. Then about ten years ago I began to notice it was disappearing from the various local shops where I had always been able to buy it. Within a matter of months I was starting to get the usual ‘There’s no call for it, sir’ mantra that bored shop assistants are taught to trot out to awkward customers who try to insist on what they want, rather than what shops want them to want. I don’t go to the UK any more, but whenever friends went there I would ask them to bring me back ten or twenty bars of Pears if they could find any. And in the end I replaced it with Neutral, a perfume-free and relatively additive-free white soap that at least didn’t dissolve into foamy water after three or four uses, like that vile sickly sweet Dove crap that’s being foisted on the world – I tried it once, but never again. Pears seemed to have entirely disappeared from the Dutch market. But that’s my experience with most products I like and try to stick to – sooner or later they get taken out of circulation, and I’m treated as an eccentric because I continue to want them.

    Then, about six months ago, I wandered into a new local chemist’s shop and discovered they had three bars of Pears in stock. I don’t know if it’s the much-maligned new formula – it did have a superfluous cellophane wrapping inside the cardboard box, and I had the feeling it got used up much faster than I remembered from all those years ago. But it was Pears, and still a vast improvement on anything I could find. So I immediately went to the manageress with all three bars in my hands and asked if she could order another twenty for me. She did, and the next day they were there for me to pick up, for just over €1.50 each.

    But now, having nearly got through my stock of 23 bars, I recently went to the same chemist’s – only to find it went bust in April (some might say it served them right for selling stuff like Pears’ Soap….). Of course I have no idea where the owner ordered the soap from, and so in a few weeks’ time I’ll be back to square one. I could probably buy old stocks of Pears on the Internet, but as a matter of principle I don’t make online purchases – far too risky, and I don’t have a credit card for the same reason.

    Why do manufacturers persist in doing this kind of thing to us? Free markets are only free for the people who know how to manipulate them. ‘Nuff to make you vote communist…

  17. I discovered this soap long time ago in India when I was on holiday. At this time I lived in Ireland and this soap started to be my reference. I now leave in France and each time I had the opportunity to purchase it, I did.
    My last stock (purchased in 2008 in Jersey) is now gone and looking over Amazon I was surprised to see so many bad comments on this product.

    I now understand why and it looks like I have no possibility to put my hand on traditional old pears soap.

    From my understanding, Unilver won, Dove is their only brand they want to push.

    I check Unilever brands and just decided to boycott their products. At least I won’t have future bad surprise if they decide to change again their formula on other products. Really, Ben&Jerry ice cream is Unilever Ice cream….

    It won’t change a thing for them but at least I will enjoy sharing my story with my friends, hope they will share it as well.

    A really disappointed consumer

    Unilver just put a doubt on every brand they own. Lucky them.

  18. This is just a note to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about you. I have one last order to receive and run some tests on and I’ll then post a detailed report. Stay tuned.

  19. Fragrance testing has been progressing slowly but surely and I hope to be finished in a few weeks. Please be patient as it’s a big project for one person to take on. I’ll now discuss the rosin soap. I’ve been waiting until I have the right fragrance blend before I make the soap but I’ve been busy researching which techniques and materials are needed to replicate Pears soap (aside from the original shape, which isn’t as important to me as the other qualities).

    The best rosin soap recipe that I have found is in the book Making Transparent Soap, by Catherine Failor. I’ve spoken with a few other soap makers who have used the recipe with success. You can download the book from either of the links below, for $12-15.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/112661987/Making-Transparent-Soap-The-Art-Of-Crafting-Molding-Scenting-Coloring

    http://www.amazon.com/Making-Transparent-Soap-Crafting-ebook/dp/B00A41HQDE/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366981768&sr=8-1&keywords=making+transparent+soap

    To quote someone who has used one of Catherine Failor’s rosin soap recipes…

    “The recipe I use is in Catherine Failor’s book on Transparent Soapmaking. It’s an excellent book, and the recipe makes an amazing soap…deep amber orange, hard, very clear, beautiful lather, nice warm fresh woody fragrance – don’t bother scenting this soap. The soap is similar to Pear’s transparent soap but nicer.”

    Making transparent soap is a fairly complex process so you’ll need to read the book through a couple of times to get everything clear in your head. You’ll need alcohol to make transparent soap. If you’re in the US where edible alcohol isn’t heavily taxed, you can use Everclear 95% volume alcohol. If you’re in the UK, where edible alcohol is heavily taxed, you’ll need to use denatured alcohol. You don’t want to use regular denatured alcohol, however because it has an unpleasant smell. You want what’s known as Trade specific denatured alcohol 1 (TSDA 1), which is used in things like toiletries and cosmetics. You need a license to buy it but it’s very simple to apply for one. If you click the link below, you can print off the necessary form.

    http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageExcise_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000263&propertyType=document#P707_58623

    In the first section notice the * asterisk and draw a line through which ever isn’t relevant to you. Do this where ever you find an asterisk.

    In the first section of part A, write “TSDA 1″. In the second section write the address where you’ll be using the alcohol. In the third and fourth sections write “N/A”, unless you’re planning to sell the soap.

    In part B, write “hobby soap making”. Leave part C blank. Leave the first section of Part D blank also. In the second section of Part D, write the number of litres of TSDA that you plan to use per year. You’re allowed up to 20 litres a year. If you don’t know how much you plan to use, you might aswel put 20 litres and max out your annual allowance. Fill in your personal details in the rest of the form but put “N/A” under the Status section, unless your planning to sell the soap. Send the form to the address at the bottom of the form and within a few weeks you’ll receive your license. You can then show this license to a retailer when buying TSDA 1, which is also sometimes sold as Denatured Ethanol B (DEB).

    Here are a couple of retailers in the UK. The second site also sells the tallow/palm oil, coconut oil, castor oil and sodium hydroxide needed to make the rosin soap.

    http://www.bonnymans.co.uk/products/product.php?productID=6394

    https://www.soapkitchenonline.co.uk/acatalog/info_3_906.html

    I’ll now address the rosin. I can’t say with certainty which rosin Andrew Pears used to make his soap but it may help to look at which species of pine was most commonly used by the British for Naval stores (rosin, pitch, turpentine) during Andrew Pears’s time. In my research I discovered that the Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) was the species most commonly used for this purpose, followed by the Slash pine (Pinus Elliottii). The sad news is that the Longleaf pine is now listed as a vulnerable species and you can’t buy it’s rosin anymore. However, the Slash pine is a very close relative of the Longleaf pine and it’s rosin is fairly easy to source. Both species originally come from the south eastern US but Slash pine is now also grown on plantations in Brazil and China.

    The fact that these two species are closely related and originally come from the same region, suggests that their rosin may smell very similar. One supplier that I contacted said that she was quite sure that they have similar smells and she was kind enough to send me a sample of Slash pine rosin. I have some rosin from the European species Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra, so that I can compare. Rosin often doesn’t have much smell to it unless you crush it, melt it or turn it into soap, so I gently melted samples from all three species and compared their aromas. The sylvestris and nigra rosin smell almost identical, warm and woody and like violin bow rosin. The Slash pine rosin smells different to the other two, warm and woody but with a spicy, aniseed or star anise like note to it. I have some pre-2009 Pears soap and the box still has a slightly oriental spice aroma to it. It would be premature to conclude that Pears was definitely made with Longleaf or Slash pine rosin but Slash pine rosin appears to be a good candidate to make a test batch with.

    I’ve contacted several suppliers and the two below both sell Slash pine rosin. The first supplier only ships within the US. The second supplier ships worldwide.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-lb-Pine-Gum-Rosin-Colophony-/280811358909?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4161a94abd

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-lb-Brazilian-Gum-Rosin-Colophony-/251256595184?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a800f62f0

    I hope that this was helpful. I’ll update again soon, when I’ve finished fragrance testing.

    • You have been doing some fantastic research James! I can absolutely guarantee I will try your soap. If it can replicate the great qualities of Pears and not use anything but fragrances inherent to the natural ingredients, I will resell or connect customers to you. I know many people here in Canada that miss the (so far) unmatchable qualities of Pears.

      • Hi Roland, thanks for the support. I should point out though that I’m not a soap retailer and wouldn’t be selling any of the soap that I make. I hope to give people the necessary information to make their own.

  20. I have recently used the new formula Pears Soap and my skin started to have mild itchiness on the night. I have no idea if this allergic reaction is caused by the soap or something else, but i can recall that i have not ate or touch something that will trigger this, so i continue to used the soap for 2 days. Now it got worst, i have to visit the doctor later as its spreading now. I am so worried so i came to google about it and found out that they have changed the formula, OMG! Guess i have to throw the just opened new soap into the rubbish bin.

    • I had a very bad reaction and I phoned them to let them know I had to go to doctors to ,Dont have it phone them ,let me know how you get on Joyce

    • i really thought it was just me that thought the formula had changed. I am so annoyed with them. it is an absolute disgrace that they have changed a perfectly good formula to this crap they have now. My family, friends and I intend to boycott buying this soap until the original formula returns!

      • Hi Joyce, This household has not only boycotted the new and botched Pears soap, we have also boycotted all of the extensive Unilever product line. I just don’t feel this corporation can be trusted with anything but their bottom line!
        They have never acknowledged let alone responded, to any of my communication attempts……….Unilever Doesn’t Care!!

        • Its not owned by Unilever anymore you should phone them I did x

        • Hi Roland
          wow that is a big step to stop using all the unilever products, they seem to own so much. Maybe they should take a look at this site to realise how angry people are and to see they are losing customers.

          I really hope they come to their senses and bring back the old recepie

          • It’s true, I can’t believe how many products are owned by these guys. Of all the UniLever products that I used to use, Pears Soap is the most difficult to replace.

            It is true that the Pears name has been sold. Amazing! Milk the reputation, then sell it before everyone knows how they’ve ruined it! WoW!

            Who are the new owners? Maybe they are willing to fix it!

    • yes this an Allergy I had the same problem PHONE THEM I did

  21. Sorry, I meant 5 bars for £12. The Gentle care bars are for £8. It’s still a much better price than those being sold on ebay.

    • Jupiter Imports sell the pre-2009 bars. Five bars for £12.

    • Hi James!
      Have you had any success recreating the Pears soap???Do you have the recipe???

      thanks

      • Hi Mario, thankyou for reminding me to update everyone. Fragrance testing is ongoing but I should be finished in a few weeks. If you read my post at the top, I’ve updated everyone about the resources and materials needed to make rosin soap.

  22. You can buy 5 bars of the pre 2009 Pears for just £8, including delivery. That’s a much better deal than those selling on ebay.

    http://www.lifebuoy.co.uk/pears-transparent.htm

    The pre 2009 version was much closer to the original than the lastest version but it still wasn’t the same as the original. The fragrance changed and became more spicy in 2003, after manufacturing was moved to India.

  23. My elderly aunt lives in New Zealand where her favourite soap, namely Pears soap is unavailable. I live in South Africa and I recently sent her some bars of the soap and a Pears shower gel for Christmas. I have not used the soap for years and so foolishly believed it was still the same excellent product I remember in my youth in the UK. I am absolutely dismayed to read on the internet about how this product has changed for the worse in the majority of opinion. I thought this would be a nice present. My aunt will no doubt express her thrill at receiving it -because she is too polite and gracious to say she is disappointed in this product. But I am very disappointed. Why fix something that is not broken?? What are you thinking Unilever??? The original formula was fantastic and so popular and now I feel I have wasted my money on buying this and the cost of posting it to New Zealand. Incidentally, the makers of Imperial Leather soap for sale in the UK have changed the formula of that too. It used to be nice as I recall as a child – now it smells so awful it makes me feel sick. Never thought I would get so upset over a bar of soap!!

  24. I am an unhappy camper over the changes to Pears soap – I bought some at Christmas, tried the green version, but also a wonderful hand finished lanolin soap, made to a traditional formula, and over 100 years old. Called Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap, it has a delightful traditional soapy smell, has a lovely creamy feel, and in it’s 150g size, is my favourite soap presently, and I have tried many, as I react badly to most soaps, and have some excema – sorry, wrong spelling. It has some ‘Modern’ ingredients, and the formula is sodium tallowate, sodium palm kernelate, coumarin, Linalool, glycerin, Lanolin, tetrasodium EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate, sodium chloride, water, and perfume. The soap can be bought over the phone – see their website, and the whole feeling is of dealing with a small caring producer of a really nice product. I get the impression that they will be around for another century or two. It is not cheap – I paid about £2 for a single bar in a farm shop, but it is cheaper online, with free postage over £30

    • That sounds like a nice soap. There are only three modern ingredients listed, C177891, tetrasodium EDTA and tetrasodium etidronate. The C177891 is titanium dioxide, which is added to soap to give it a white colour. The other two are added to most soaps at very low levels (~0.1%) because they chelate the metals in tap water, so that the soap can form a good lather. The coumarin and linalool that are listed aren’t modern ingredients but are actually contained within the natural ingredients in the parfum. EU regulations now demand that they be listed because they’re moderate sensitisers.

      The rosemary and thyme extracts in Pears also contain limonene and linalool, which now have to be listed in the ingredients. The benzyl benzoate, eugenol and cinnamal that are listed in Pears can also be found in natural ingredients. Until a few years ago, these were all covered under the term parfum but they now have to be listed separately. It’s one of the reasons why the ingredients list has grown so much, although Unilever have clearly added some things aswel. Here’s a list of the 26 ingredients that are now covered under the EU Cosmetics Directive.

      http://pellwall-perfumes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-26-ingredients.html

  25. Before any of you think about trying to recreate a Pears type fragrance, I should let you know that I’m already doing this, so save yourselves some money and I’ll post my findings soon. My preliminary findings are very encouraging and I think I’ve already created a blend that’s very close to the Pears scent.

    • Great ! Looking forward to your findings

      • I’m still in the middle of testing, so you’ll have to bear with me. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to recreate the Pears scent but I’ll let you know my findings none the less. It’s a slow process, as each sample has to be aged first. I think that the rosin is an important part of the aroma of Pears, so I’m also going to attempt to make some rosin soap, to add the fragrance to. Stay tuned.

        • I’m pulling for you!

        • Hello James,

          Responding as a new boy on the block to an old message:

          From memory, there was a “pine” note. I always thought it was the rosin, but I have made a few test batches and there is something missing. I started testing rosin from Pinus Sylvestris, but it isn’t quite right. I subsequently tried Pinus Elliotii. They smell differently when melted/heated, but once saponified, I cannot detect a big difference in smell. However, the batch with Pinus Elliotii is substantially less clear. The Pinus Sylvestris gives a beautiful crystal clear deep amber bar. The Pinus Elliotii bar is more yellow and the bar is less clear.

          I just finished a small test batch with a little bit of wood tar to see what it gives.

          • Hi Martin, I’ll now be postiing my updates. If you leave me your email address, I’ll email you about something that I can’t disclose here.

    • I wonder, James, if you could ‘go the whole hog’ as they say, and try and recreate the soap itself, I mean make some with the original recipe, with the Alcohol and rosin and perfume, aged for the original time, and allowed to age as Pears used to do. There is obviously a demand for the soap, and I am wondering if the original recipe is out there somewhere. I would be interested in the original recipe myself, and try and make some at home.

      Please let me know how you are doing on the perfume if you would be so kind

      Thanks and good luck!

      • The original recipe is probably a well guarded secret and I doubt that you’d find it written down somewhere online. However, creating something similar would be possible. It would require using sugar and alcohol, to stop the soap from crystalising and turning opaque. The other thing to consider is whether or not to use tallow because the original was made with this instead of the palm and coconut oil later used. Soaps made with tallow and other animals fats have a very smooth, creamy lather. In the early stages of testing, it would be better to add the fragrance to some ready made melt and pour soap. To see how the fragrance developes once added to soap and whether or not it needs adjusting.

        Fragrance testing is on hold until I receive my order of cade oil and birch tar. I think that I remember Pears soap having a background aroma of tar. I’m not sure if that would have come from coal tar, pine tar, birch tar or cade tar. Does anyone else remember Pears soap having a slightly coal tar- like background note? Not in the version just prior to 2009 but even earlier? I noticed that something seemed to already be missing in Pears soap before 2009. Coal and wood tar became restricted for use in cosmetics some years before 2009, so that might explain the change that I noticed.

    • Please contact me as soon as its ready and I’ll have a bar! If its any good I’ll have a dozen

      • Dear Peter, I’m not intending to make large enough batches to sell to anyone. I’ve found a recipe that I’ll be working from, providing that I can get all of the materials together. If the soap is good, what I’d do is post the recipe along with a picture of the finished article. I may also send a bar to one of the leaders here, to review for everyone else.

        The cade tar and birch tar proved to be a negative and I now doubt that coal tar is one of the ingredients either. I believe that it’s a case of finding the right cedarwood oil. The problem is that there are many different types and some are hard to get. The four types that I have tried so far haven’t quite worked. I’m expecting another to arrive in the next few days. If that doesn’t work, then there is another rare type that I have been able to source but the seller won’t have any available until April. I’ll keep you all updated.

        James

        • The oil that I was waiting for arrived but it looks as though it isn’t a match. A perfumer has kindly agreed to send me a few samples of cedar oils that are harder to get. He’s using economy shipping so it could take a week or two. If none of those are a match, then there is still the cedar oil that I’m hoping to receive come April. I’ll update you all when I have had a chance to test the oils that I’m waiting on.

  26. I haven’t tried the latest reformulation but I wasn’t impressed with the 2009 reformulation. It smelt similar to the original but it wasn’t quite the same as I remembered from my childhood. Something was missing. I compared the ingredients of the original and the 2009 reformulation and what was clearly missing was the rosemary and thyme extracts. The reformulation contained isolated terpenes instead, like eugenol and linalool, which while found in rosemary and thyme, cannot compare to the sheer complexity of smell from the natural plant extracts.

    I researched a little back then and also found out that the Pears Fragrance Essence originally contained cedarwood essence/extract. So rosemary extract, thyme extract, cedarwood essence and rosin seem to be the primary components of the original smell. The rosin obviously adds a pine smell. It probably wouldn’t be hard to get close to the true original Pears scent if you mixed the above ingredients together. You’d just need to test a drop or two of each together until you found the right ratio. You could then buy unscented glycerine soap base online and melt it down, before adding the fragrance blend. Alternatively, you can make a true rosin soap (like Pears) before you added the fragrance blend.

    Here’s some info I saved at the time on how to make rosin soap but you’d probably want to decrease the measurements in the recipes, to make a smaller batch.

    “Rosin consists mainly of abietic acid, and combines with caustic alkalis to form salts (rosinates or pinates) that are known as rosin soaps.”

    “ROSIN SOAP: Rosin added to soap makes the soap darker, softer and increases its lathering properties. Add 8 ounces of crushed rosin to 5-1/2 pounds of clean fat and raise the temperature until the rosin has melted or dissolved into the fat. Cool the mixture to 100° F and add the lye solution made by dissolving one can of lye in 2-1/2 pints of water and cooling the solution to 90° F. If you prefer a heavier concentration of rosin, decrease the amount of fat in the recipe by 8 ounces for every additional 8 ounces of rosin which is added. The total weight of rosin and fat should be 6 pounds for each can of lye.”

    “Soap Without Grease.–To four gallons of strong lye add ten pounds of distilled rosin, or eight pounds of pine gum, not distilled and free from trash is better; boil steadily until there is no rosin to be seen, and if the quantity of lye is not sufficient add more, and continue to add until the rosin is out, and boil until it makes a brown jelly soap. I have used this soap for a year, and it is equal to the best soap made with grease.”

    “Rosin, the finely powdered residue left after distillation of pine resins, helps bars of soap to retain their shape and produces large amounts of lather. Mix the powder with vegetable oil (any type will do) before adding it to the soap.”

  27. I’ve written to Unilever to inquire: Where is our Pears soap? Why is there no mention of Pears soap on the Unilever website? The new Lifebuoy “clini-care 10″, currently enjoying a huge advertising campaign in South Africa, is reminiscent of Unilever’s recent Pears formulations, but where is the Pears we know and love?

    If I receive a reply, I’ll post it here.

  28. How to ruin a 200 year old brand in 3 simple steps? Change the formula. Change the perfume. Change the shape.
    I worked at Port Sunlight 45 years ago making Pears Soap (it was largely made by hand then), and it was a lovely product – consistent, reliable and with a strong market position. Today it’s changed so much I wonder why people buy it. The market research leading to these changes was either non-existent or unsound.

    • I would love to know if you could remember how to make it? I wouldn’t mind having a bash at producing my own version :0)

  29. lever has changed identity of other brand products too, there is a cosmetic major calld lakme in India, which used to be owned by a big business house calld Tatas, then it changed hands, came into lever stable, its met with same fate as pears, still products are fast moving but old fragrance, mildness and charm hv bn replaced.

  30. Bought some Pears soap today thought I would be transported back to my childhood as it was the only soap my mother used .what a disappointment it feels very tacky and smells awful worse that any disinfectant I have ever smelt what have Unilever done to it, it’s obviously made with cheap and nasty ingredients I suppose its a sign of the times well Unilever you are a disgrace to ruin a lovely soap just to make enormous profits I hope it sits on the shop shelves for ever and a day. Obviously its made in India, well India you are welcome to it.

  31. I have just written to Unilever to obtain clarification on what they have or have not done. You are absolutely right, this is a disaster. I have used Pears for years and years. Anyone have any other updates?? It is a shame that Pears sold out in the first place. Ugh.

    • Good luck with getting a reply,
      Unilever have no interest in it’s customer base in the Uk or the USA as sales of Pears soap in India are higher than both countries combined.
      Even if there was a complete boycott I doubt it would bother them. They are only bothered with brand image and profit. Once they have destroyed the image and sales drop they will move onto something else.

      • I agree. Though I wonder how long it will take the customers in India to realise that the soap they are using lasts between a third and a quarter of any other bar they’ve ever purchased.

        • Sorry, meant to say -

          I agree.Though I wonder how long it will take the customers in India to realise that the soap they are using lasts between a third and a quarter of the time that any other bar they’ve ever purchased does.

          • They probably won’t notice or care for the same reason people here in the UK haven’t really stopped buying en mass, which is most of the time they are now sold in packs of 3 or 4 for a ‘Bargain Reduced Price’
            They are cheaper but only by a little and like you say, if you were to buy 3 or 4 bars of any other soap you may pay a little more but you will not need to buy any more for a month or so longer.

            Unilever are an appalling company and always have been, Sadly they are so large now it’s virtually impossible to not have something in your home that was produced by them.

          • Hi,

            We back in India love Pears the way you all do… few of us like me also have skin reaction due to its prolonged use .. but people use it generally en mass because its available in a pack of 6-12 at a comparatively cheaper price then others. May be it suits our tropical skin type better but the new types..the green and mint stay untouched on the racks.

            But as far as I know, Lux and lots of local medicinal soaps are commonly used in houses.

    • I have just come across this forum and I knew that I must tell you about a seller with the pre-2009 version. The price is a little on the high side …

      Anyone interested can go to ebay.co.uk and search for ‘pears soap 2009′


      [This comment has been moderated. Note that "a little on the high side" means "a tad under £7.50 a bar"! So, if you are the curator of a soap museum or want a couple of bars for your trophy cabinet, these are for you!]

      • This guy has just reduced them to a lot more respectable £6 a bar including SIGNED FOR delivery, now that cannot be bad.

  32. I have a bad reaction now and going to doctors

  33. I used to love this soap, why do they have to change everything we like.
    I actually own a PEAR SOAP POCKET DICTIONARY that must be about 150 years old, anyone interested?

  34. Still no sign of the old formula being reinstated, we no longer buy this soap or anything else manufactured by Unilever.

    I used it for almost 40 years and we used to use it to bath our son who suffers with a sever skin complaint.

    I have also been considering making my own, any help/advice in this regard would be nice.

    The fact that Unilever advertise 200 years of tradition is misleading as the new soap is so completely different from the old. That being so, surely it is product misrepresentation and therefore illegal to be sold as such.

    It makes me so angry that companies like unilever can get away with what they do. Completely destroy a very popular and much cherished brand and also close a factory making a large number of folk redundant no doubt. Just so they can maximise profit. It wasn’t to save the brand, Pears was not in trouble. Unilever just want more money for their greedy shareholders and board of directors.

    I for one will dance a jig the day their crappy company falls down around their ears.

  35. Like everyone else I feel deceived by Unilever. The new Pears soap is horrible.
    Smells disgusting
    The bar does not have the lovely concave shape
    It does not lather
    The bar is cloudy, not the lovely clear amber of old.
    Please Unilver, bring back the old soap

  36. Unilever pretends that the new manufacturing process is greener. Who do they think they are kidding.. I mean truly, just compare the ingredients of the original soap with the current one.

    Unilever give us the original back ! THE ORIGINAL !!!! and nothing else !

  37. I just went on a weekend getaway and opened my travel soap dish for the first time in several years. Oh JOY, there was a tiny piece of the original formula Pears soap in it – I’d forgotten I had it. I thought I’d never smell that lovely, fresh smell again. When I got home I opened up one of the boxes I had bought mistakenly, thinking it to be the original formula. I smelled both the old and the new formula side by side. One smells like an open field full of herbs lying in the sun. The other smells of tar crossed with a medicine cabinet, really nasty. I am now doing research to see if I can teach myself how to make Pears soap. Does anyone know what their secret fragrance was? Or has anyone found the formula?

    Thanks.

    • Jennifer – did you finish that small piece, or is it still available? – I was thinking that if someone analysed the original, they could find out the constituents, and actually make an exact copy of the original soap – and it would be back to original. Anyone else got some ‘real’ soap, please let me know

  38. I have always bought batches of at least 10 soaps. The latest one came with the new cardboard packaging and the soap itself sealed in a cellophane wrapping. I thought that was strange, since I always left the soaps age in their cardboard boxes which gave them an extra life span (like candles btw.)

    The shape is different as well. I used to stick an almost used piece of Pears into the concave depression of a new soap so as not to waste any. Well now, not only has the formula changed but it has lost it’s character so to say.

    Unilever is a big nasty company that puts profit before anything else and destroys the brands it acquires.

    This is the last time I will ever buy anything from Unilever. Thankfully, there are other soap makers that do it the traditional way.

    • PS. if anyone can tell me where to get “old stock” Pears, let me know. Thank’s.

      • If you’re willing to travel: I just found quite a supply of the original bars (manufactured in 2008) in Freetown Supermarket on Wilkinson Rd, Freetown, Sierra Leone. I bought 12 so far, still considering to get more before I leave. And I had the best shower in years!

        • I tried calling them at 232 (the country code) 22 232216 hoping to order some, but the recorded voice said that it didn’t recognize the number. Am desperate to got some of “the good stuff”!

      • They are on eBay Rupert, quite expensive but the REAL thing.

  39. I just bought the oil-clear (green coloured) Pears as I hadn’t ever seen it in the supermarket before, and thought it might be an improvement on the amber/ brown version of the soap everyone’s upset about here.
    Yuk, I’ve never come across a more disgusting scent in a soap. It resembles the smell of something you’d use to clean your kitchen floor (but worse) – a sort of highly chemical lemoney smell.
    Has anyone got any news about the Pears soap (amber/brown) being toned down in smell a bit? I think they may have done this (i don’t find it quite as offensive as I did) though it’s possible I’ve just got used to this crappy version of the original Pears. I should be boycotting it completely, but am still struggling to find anything I like, and that’s affordable, at all.
    What astonishes me is that Unilever are prepared to put huge investment into the new green bar with all the risk that involves and not do anything to bring back the bar that people love. I guess it’s because they’ve effectively sold the rights to someone else to produce the soap and they can’t easily control what the licensee does, but that doesn’t even sound likely when I think about it. I can’t see the producer having carte blanche to do what they like with the product. This suggests Unilever just don’t give a monkey’s about original Pears devotees, probably their most loyal customers considering the soap’s long history.
    When I”ve got more time I intend to look into making something like the old Pears for myself. If anyone’s had a go at this, and can give some general tips about home soap making, please share your experiences, good or bad.
    This has to be the way forward for the future. Damn these massive multinational companies that treat their customers like dirt. (Not at all difficult for a detergent maker, I soapose!.).

  40. I’ve recently purchased a 36 bar case of the new formulation Pears. I’ve just now asked the vendor, The Soap Opera, to give me a refund on at least part of the shipment. The rest will go to the dump!

    It’s so very sad.

    • Smells awful, the way distressed drugstore merchandise smells after a fire. Won’t buy it again. Same thing has happened with another new improved and cheapened classic, Jean Nate After Bath Splash, which one critic describes as good only for cleaning puppy mess.

  41. There are few daily care products, few name brands that I can say I genuinely consider (or considered) it a regular pleasure to use. The final batches of the historical “Pears” soap, the few times I was able to experience the original formula before Unilever abandoned it (being quite a newbie to the “Pears” experience) were one of them. I looked forward to showering with that stuff. It’s also one of the few, main brands that offers tallowate-free, glycerine soap. It sounds like the silliest thing in The World, but I’d trade every luxury bath purchase I’ve made over the past few years just to get the original “Pears” formula back the way it was. I would pay a high premium for it.

    I have a new formula bar by my bathroom sink, right now, but every time I’ve tried to keep it in my bath, I find myself re-locating it to the kitchen — for totally unglamorous, hard-core cleaning purposes, only. I feel angry for being fooled into trying this brand, again, after I’d heard they intended to bring back as much of the original formula as possible. 200 years of brand building, down the drain. I’m American and grew-up in the 80′s and 90′s, so I have little exposure to it as a family regular, but my grandmother, a Strawberry Blonde with super-sensitive skin, used to buy it for her face and I loved the scent and smoothness of it. I wish they’d really re-consider the recipe, even if they launch it as a smaller batch, “luxury” face soap — with the original formula — and priced it differently than their new bath bars.

  42. The new Pears soap is repugnant!
    In my family, growing up, we would buy a bar of Pears when we had a bit of extra money.
    Pure Luxury!

    They scent and lovely feel of the original soap, always took me back to very happy times.
    It was my favorite soap.

    Now corporate greed has destroyed a fine tradition of quality soap, it’s not even hypoallergenic any more!

    Unilever has been boycotted in our home.
    How can one trust a company that destroys a time honored formula?
    Why on earth would they buy a fine product and name like Pears and then ruin it?

    Here is my request to Unilever:

    Bring back the original Pears formula.
    Charge more for it than all the other crap soaps, It was a premium product!

    People will flock back to it.

  43. Hi Susan my name is Coley and I have been using pears soap since I was a young boy till now. I buy my shower gel from Boots for the past six month after not being able to find it anywhere for the past few years. I hope this has been some help to reunite you with a number 1 product.

  44. well at least i have my answer after years of searching for my pears shower gel….they no longer make this wonderful product with the delicious smell. so sick, had one bottle left, fell on the shower floor and smashed all over….in a panic i grab empty bottles to scoop up before all goes down drain. sad day for me….

    if it ever comes back, please someone be kind enough to let me know….

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