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Soap manufacturing industry. Soap was first commercially mass-produced in factories during the 1850s. The soapmaking process involves the boiling of fats and oils (from animal carcasses) in an alkaline solution of lye (usually sodium hydroxide). Once the solid soap has formed, the liquid component is drained away, here in the channels sloping off to the left, and the soap is formed into bars. The foul smell of the rendering fats required good ventilation, as seen here. Artwork taken from Grands Hommes et Grands Faits de l'Industrie (Great Men and Great Facts of Industry), France, circa 1880.
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