Updated: Mar 27, 2021
Salt, at one time, was so valued that Roman soldiers were once paid in salt. Hence the idiom when we say a person is “worth their salt.”
Pronounced Zō-Luh-Sī-feh, soleseife is the German word for seawater soap or brine soap.
It is traditionally made from seawater (or brine water) and olive oil. Since salt decreases a soaps ability to lather, soap makers often use coconut oil in their soap recipes. Coconut oil is one of the few oils that will, when saponified, lather in salt water without the need for potash, or potassium hydroxide. Potash is what makes your liquid body soaps. Coconut oil allows soap makers to make a hard bar soap that lathers in saltwater, which for us (Trahpek Care) is a good thing because we’re trying to stay away from plastic containers.
So, why would anyone add salt to their soap if it decreases suds? Well for several reasons. There is, after all, a reason why people travel thousands of miles just to float in the Dead Sea. Sodium chloride (NaCl) which is your average every day table salt is a common additive in many soap products. It acts as a preservative as well as a softener agent to bond to the calcium and carbonates in hard water. Table salt by itself is not a balanced ion and too much of one thing can dry out your skin. Sea salt, on the other hand, contains more than just your regular (NaCl) table salt. Natural sea salt contains a balance of ions like magnesium, calcium, carbonates (think baking soda and washing soda), and many trace minerals. The effects it has on you skin helps your sebaceous glands to balance the oils on your skin. Most people even claim that their skin feels smoother when using soaps that contain sea salt. In fact some soap makers even put large amounts of sea salt in their soaps because they like the effects of sea salt on their skin.
With that in mind it is important to recognize that there is a difference between soleseife and salt bars. Salt bars can be course because they actually have salt crystals mixed into the soap. Whereas soleseife bars are typically smoother because they use brine water instead. The soap makers either use straight seawater or they dissolve the desired amount of salt into the water that they use to make their soaps.
We like to use brine water, not only for its benefits to your skin, but because salt ions also help to chelate the extra minerals from hard water. Where we live, our hard water can give you the feeling of rolling around in caleche gravel all day. Our soleseife bars use a higher salinity than seawater, (which makes it incredibly difficult to mold and decorate) but the effects are worth it. My skin used to feel like it was covered in cactus thorns after every shower. Now, I look forw