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I came across a Facebook post the other day that referred to a European soap making blog that had a tutorial
on Brine Soap or “Soleseife.” While I had made “salt bars” before – adding the salt to the already mixed
soap at trace – and have added a bit of salt to the water before adding the lye to help the soap get harder
quicker, I had never heard of this type of soap called “brine” or “salt water” soap.

But through some research and a lot of Google translating (the articles are mostly all in German), I
discovered a new soap making variation.

The difference between this soap and salt bars is that the salt is dissolved, not crystalline. It allegedly has a
lot of the same purported benefits of salt and salt bars – helping with skin conditions and/or “purifying the
skin.” In addition, the soap is extra hard, very white and works well in intricate single cavity soap molds.

I had to try it.

Most of the German recipes I found added about 25% salt by weight to the water for their soap recipe.

So, if you had 10 ounces of water, you would add 2.5 ounces of salt. The lye to water ratio was about 2.5 –
that’s multiplying the lye amount by 2.5 to calculate the amount of water needed for the recipe.

Because I was trying a new additive, I wanted to use a reliable basic recipe that I was familiar with. I
adapted a tried-and-true recipe into a “soleseife” recipe as follows:

10.25 ounces of lard – 25%


12.3 ounces of coconut oil – 30%
12.3 ounces of olive oil – 30%
4.1 ounces of safflower oil – 10%
2.05 ounces of castor oil – 5%
5.8 ounces of lye – a 5% discount
14.5 ounces of water
3.6 ounces of plain sea salt
1.8 ounces of a fragrance or essential oil blend – (I used a blend of 25% cedarwood, 20% rose geranium,
25% spearmint and 30% clary sage)

First – Prepare the salt and lye water solution

Weigh out the water and add the salt. Stir well until it’s completely dissolved. Let it sit a bit to make sure
that all the salt is staying dissolved.
Add the lye to the salt water solution. It will turn a milky white color as you stir. As before, let it sit several
minutes and stir again. You want to make sure that all of the lye is completely dissolved. Several of the
German sources I found even recommended filtering the lye water to make sure there were no un-dissolved
particles.

Set aside the lye to cool.

Next – Prepare the Oils and Make the Soap

Weigh out and melt/mix all of your oils as per the recipe you’ve created.
Mix the lye solution and the oils as you would with any normal soap recipe. When the soap has reached a
light trace, add the fragrance or essential oil and mix a bit more.
Pour the soap into whatever mold you prefer. Because these salt water bars get so hard, individual molds
seem to work best. If you do use a loaf or slab style mold, be sure to unmold it while the soap is still pliable
enough to cut.
Let the soap saponify for 12-24 hours. It will indeed get hard quickly. I used my 12-bar silicone mold from
Bramble Berry and the soaps popped right out after about 12 hours.
Let the soap sit for a couple of days before testing it, and let it cure for a couple of weeks before putting it
into general circulation.

When it was unmolded, the bars were hard, but not crumbly like a traditional crystalline salt bar. The lather
was low and milky. It will most likely improve with cure time.

If you try this process, let me know what you think of the soap! I love traditional salt bars and expect these
will be very similar. Email me at candleandsoap@aboutguide.com and let me know your soleseife soap
experience!
The hardness of your soap is directly related to the types, balance and qualities of oils you're using. Different
oils make your soap harder or softer depending on their fatty acid makeup.

But many soap makers add a bit of salt to their soap to help increase the hardness. This has been refuted as
just a carry over from when lye was leached out of wood ashes, but my tests have shown that adding salt
does indeed increase the hardness at first.

It does not result in an overall harder finished product, but it does make the bar get harder quicker. The
benefit of a harder bar quicker, is that it makes getting it out of the mold quicker and easier...and (if you're
not a real stickler for a 3-4 week cure) let's you use it sooner!

Adding the Salt


Weigh out the water you are going to mix your lye with. Before you add the lye, add ½ tsp. of salt per pound
of oil in your recipe*. Stir well to make sure that all of the salt is dissolved. Add your lye to the salted water,
making your lye solution, and resume your normal soap making procedure.

* That is, if there are 32 oz. of oils in your recipe, add 1 tsp. For 48 oz., add 1 1/2 tsp.