Het Zeeplokaal 100% plant-based soaps

Het Zeeplokaal: ‘I got fed up with confusing ingredient labels’

Interviews

Het Zeeplokaal offers 100% plant-based soaps. Founder Thijske Noordhoek started creating a natural alternative because she was fed up with the confusing ingredient labels on all her beauty products. We visited her atelier in Utrecht to talk about the making process, sustainability and how the soaps are used.

Hi Thijske! Why did you start Het Zeeplokaal?
Hi! Over the past couple of years, I started to become more interested in a sustainable lifestyle. One day, I used a budget shower gel that irritated my skin. As a consequence, I started investigating the label to discover the most aggressive and problematic ingredients. I got fed up with confusing ingredient labels and started researching alternatives. As a result, I discovered that there aren’t too many authentic soap makers in the Netherlands. Here my journey began.

Is it difficult to make soap yourself?
Yes. It is a complex, scientific process that takes time to master. However, I love the experimental aspect of it and I am still adjusting the recipes today. There is always something to improve.

Het Zeeplokaal 100% plant-based soaps

Could you give us an insight into the process of soap making?
Sure! The core of soap contains a combination of oils (in my case coconut oil or olive oil) and lye. Coconut oil gives a hardening quality to the soap while olive oil gives you a softer skin after washing. Additionally, the ingredient lye turns the oils into soap (also called saponification).

After this, I add ingredients that have very specific effects such as activated charcoal for strong cleansing or poppy seeds for exfoliation. Essential oils are added depending on the recipe (for example tea tree oil or bergamot oil). Lastly, I put the substance in a mold and let it ripen for about 4 or 5 days. After the soaps are cut, the leftover water in the bars need to vaporize for an additional 4/5 weeks.

What makes Het Zeeplokaal soaps special?
First of all, they are 100% plant-based soaps. Secondly, I emphasize that all raw materials are sourced and processed as natural as possible. For example, the green clay is dried in the sun instead of using synthetic processes and activated charcoal is a waste material from peel coconut.

Next to this, I try to decrease my carbon footprint as much as possible. I work together with a sustainable transport company and I am busy developing new packaging that reduces the need for extra protection materials during transport.

Het Zeeplokaal 100% plant-based soaps

Are there any challenges regarding sustainability that you still want to improve?
Yes. About 80% of the ingredients used are currently from biological sources. I want to increase this to 100%. The challenges mainly lie in the essential oils which are super expensive to get from biological sources.

Why did we shift from soap bars to liquid soaps?
Marketing activities in the 80s emphasized liquid detergents as a qualitative alternative to boost sales. For example, the ingredient glycerin (that moisturizes the skin) was often removed from fabricated soap bars. As a result, consumers were stimulated to also buy a body lotion to prevent skin dehydration. This is a shame because our 100% plant-based soaps bars don’t use any plastic. Furthermore, they moisturize and froth just as much and last way longer than liquid or fabricated soaps.

Luckily consumer mindsets are changing, aren’t they?
Yes! I am happy to see that consumers tend to increasingly make conscious decisions. People value products that are good for you and the environment. We just need to educate ourselves and this takes time. 

Het Zeeplokaal 100% plant-based soaps

The soaps also look great. Do you have control over their aesthetic?
Yes and no. Functionality comes first, but I do like to manipulate the look of the soaps occasionally. One of the bars contains ground green tea, so I assumed the color would turn out green. Contrary, it turned brown!

Tell us a bit more about the cleaning soaps. We’ve never seen anything like it.
I wanted to cover all aspects of cleaning. Therefore, a soap for errands in the house was not to miss. Lemon juice is one of the most anti-bacterial ingredients. By adding canola, the color became beautifully bright yellow. The soap can be used for many different things. Add some water to wash dirty pans or to create an all-purpose cleaner. Additionally, you can chop up a smaller part of the soap, melt it in a pan and use it as washing liquid for clothing. When melted, the substance will stay liquid.

What’s next for Het Zeelokaal?
Next year, I will focus on expanding the range of soaps. I have many idea’s and I am super excited to start experimenting again!


Shop soap bars by Het Zeeplokaal at all our stores.
Selected styles available online.

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