What Is Soleseife?

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--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 forward to showers.

Mariners soap is another soap that we make that many tend to confuse with soleseife. Soleseife just means that brine water was used to make the soap, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that it lathers well in saltwater. On the other hand, Mariners soap or saltwater soap is formulated to do exactly that - actually lather up in seawater. Yet, it does so much more. I’ll get into more detail on that in my next article.


Our Mariners Soap


Surf-N-Suds (SnS) is our signature line of soap. Yes we do make Bastille soaps and other typical types of soap, but we’ve chosen to focus on SnS because of its versatility. SnS is formulated to lather in saltwater. However, that actually means that it will lather in any water, including . . . “dreaded hard water.” (Cue dramatic 🎶Dun, Dun, Daaah🎶)

We focus on saltwater life because most of our hobbies and adventures happen in saltwater. Seawater runs in our blood. Anyone who has ever camped at the beach or lived on a sailboat for any length of time can tell you that normal soap does not lather in saltwater. And, on a sailboat without a water maker, freshwater is precious. Our SnS soap addresses that issue. Now, you can feel clean, even after bathing in seawater!

Salt life also means more exposure to the sun. So, we have chosen to use light carrier oils along with oils rich in potassium and vitamins A, B, D, E, and K. SnS is one of the few soaps that in include both forms of vitamin E - tocopherol and tocotrienol. And because it is all natural, there are no harmful unwanted ingredients. SnS is vegan and, like all of our products, comes in 100% biodegradable packaging. Even our “plastics”, if used, are made of cornstarch.

General Ingredients: Saponified and Unsaponified oils of (Coconuts, Rice Bran, Castor Beans, Avocados and Hemp Seeds), Shea Butter, Coconut Milk, A juice or tea high in Vitamin C, Raw Cane Sugar, Zinc Oxide (natural SPF for UV protection), Fragrances Oils and/or Essential Oils