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French slime soap produced at a snail’s pace

May 30, 2021 2:30PM Reuters

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Damien Desrocher’s snail slime soap is sold at his local French markets. Image: Reuters. media_cameraDamien Desrocher’s snail slime soap is sold at his local French markets. Image: Reuters.

animals

Reading level: green

Foamy slime bubbles across Damien Desrocher’s hand as he lightly rubs one of the thousands of snails he keeps in a backyard enclosure.

The 28-year-old French artisan* began using the gastropod* fluid last year to make soap bars, which he sells at local markets.

media_cameraFrench artisan Damien Desrocher is making soap from snail slime. Picture: Reuters.

“It’s all in the dexterity of how you tickle,” Desrocher said as he extracted* the slime, noting that the process does not kill the animals. “I only touch it with my finger – you see it’s not violent, it’s simple.”

A former air force computer technician, Desrocher decided to start farming snails in the northern French town of Wahagnies as a form of “returning to nature”.

“Once you observe and see how snails behave, they’re actually very endearing,” he said. “It’s really an animal that I love.”

He has raised a total of 60,000 snails. As they enter their reproductive season, most are transferred to a larger site, while around 4000 are kept at his home for slime harvesting.

A single snail will yield just two grams of slime, meaning he needs around 40 snails to produce 80g – enough to manufacture 15 soap bars weighing 100g each.

media_cameraDaniel Desrocher’s artisanal soap production moves at a snail’s pace. Image: Reuters

“We need quite a lot of snails,” he said.

Although quite uncommon in Western cosmetics, snail mucus has become a more common ingredient elsewhere, including in Korean beauty products.

Desrocher said slime contained molecules of collagen* and elastin*, which have anti-ageing and skin-healing properties. Snails also naturally use their slime to repair their shells if damaged, he said.

Desrocher said he aims to produce 3000 snail slime soap bars in his first year of production.

GLOSSARY

  • artisan: someone who makes things in a traditional way, often by hand using quality ingredients
  • gastropod: molluscs including snails, slugs and whelks
  • extracted: remove or take out, particularly with effort or application
  • collagen: protein found in skin and other protective tissue
  • elastin: protein in connective tissue, allowing skin to resume its shape after stretching, pinching or contracting

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many snails has Damien Desrocher raised?
  2. How many does he keep at home for slime harvesting?
  3. Where else besides France is snail slime is being used in beauty products?
  4. Which molecules are found in the slime and what properties do they have?
  5. How many soap bars does Desrocher aim to produce in his first year of production?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Selling snail slime
Think of all the fancy advertisements you see on television where they talk about the benefits of different cosmetics and skincare products. They always seem to make the products seem so lovely and luxurious! Create a voiceover for a television advertisement selling Damien Desrocher’s snail slime soap. Talk about the wonderful benefits and make it sound like a must-have for every beauty regimen.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
You think snail slime is weird!? Find out what these cosmetic ingredients and their benefits are:

  1. lanolin
  2. fish enzymes
  3. carmine
  4. bee venom
  5. guano

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the article. A person or animal. Write it down.

Add three adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in animals