Meerschaum

(2 syl., German, sea-froth.) This mineral, from having been found on the sea-shore in rounded white lumps, was ignorantly supposed to be sea-froth petrified; but it is a compound of silica, magnesia, lime, water, and carbonic acid. When first dug it lathers like soap, and is used as a soap by the Tartars.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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