The German method of Soleseife

At Atlantic Soap Co., one thing that sets us apart is the seawater that we use in every bar of soap we make. Customers often ask how we came up with the idea or why seawater in soap is beneficial. Let me tell you a little more about the history behind this soapmaking technique.

Soaps made using seawater or a brine originated in Germany and are known as soleseife (sole = brine, seife = soap). Soleseife bars are not the same as salt bars. To make salt bars, salt is incorporated into the soap batter near the end of the process and just before it is poured into a mold which can sometimes leave a scratchy texture in the finished soap. To make soleseife the salt is first dissolved in water making the bar smooth and creamy, rather than coarse the salt crystals. While you can make a brine for soleseife using up to 25% salt, the seawater I use has a salinity of only 3.2% so it won’t decrease lather or be too drying. It is also filtered to remove unwanted impurities. 

There are multiple reasons that I choose to use seawater to make my soaps. The first, and probably most important, is that it ties them to the place where they are made. I am lucky enough to live on beautiful Cape Cod and the seawater I use in my soaps is collected from Woods Hole, MA, a center of scientific research and discovery in marine sciences. Woods Hole is a passage between Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay with tides rushing twice daily between these two bodies of water. When you use my soaps, no matter where you are, you are connected in a very special way to this unique and wonderful place.

Seacond, the salt and minerals in the seawater have many benefits, both for your skin and for the soap making process. The salt helps make the soap into a very hard bar which makes it easier to unmold, shortens the time it needs to cure, and makes the bar last longer once it is in use. Anyone who has ever been swimming in the ocean knows how amazing your skin feels afterward. This is the feeling we try to achieve with our soleseife bars. Sea salt and other minerals found in seawater are said to have healing qualities, provide moisture, and are suitable for those with sensitive skin, acne or eczema.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about using seawater in soap. I plan to explore a lot more of my most frequent customer questions in future posts. If you have a question you would like me to answer, drop it in the comments below!

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