Great Posts and Interesting Discussions
Soapsand--what is it, really?
Sariel's comments about posts are added in green.
Unfortunately, I lost
most of the posts on this. There were a lot of speculations, most of which
I found silly, because the impression of soapsand I always got from the books
agrees with what the DLG has to say: Soapsand is a naturally foaming sand found
The one post I do still have does have a plausible suggestion:
Mike Mullen, 9/17/98
Would suggest borate, useful as a natural mineral
detergent, and texture of sand.
Borate is actually a group of
minerals which all contain the borate radical. Borax is a specific borate
mineral, which is commonly used as a soap on Earth, and does have the gritty
texture of sand. Borax forms as an evaporite, i.e. where a large body of
water has evaporated, you might find a deposit of borax. Outside of borax,
I know of no minerals that naturally foam. If borax is not
equivalent to soapsand, I would suggest that soapsand might form because some
plant growing in/nearby sand leaves a residue in it that foams.
Other people have suggested that
soapsand is like lava soap--i.e. bar soap with grit such as pumice in it.
This is not correct, as bar soap is a rare luxury on Pern. Bar soap is
made from lye, which in turn is made from the ashes of burnt wood. As wood
has always been a precious commodity on Pern, which is rarely burnt because it
can be put to better uses, it is not often that a holder can collect a large
enough quantity of ashes to make soap. The few bars that are made are
usually given as gifts. Now that trees are becoming more common, the new
woodcraft hall is thinking of making soap as a sideline to their other products.