Blog — Apr 19, 2023
Product stories : Les Savonneries Bruxelloises
The great comeback of solid soap is happening. And it makes so much sense: less plastic, more natural elements, more durability.
We’ve had the amazing opportunity to visit and ask a few questions to our friends at Les Savonneries Bruxelloises, our soaps producer.
Read on to learn more about this passionate and dedicated Belgian company that we love so much.
How was 'Les Savonneries Bruxelloises' born?
Settled in an old industrial area of Brussels, our factory, les Savonneries Bruxelloises, have been manufacturing artisanal soaps & shampoo since 1926. Originally founded and run for two generations by the Nanson family, the business was taken over in 1993 by Vincent Laurencin and his nephew François Van de Velde. Since December 2019, the company is in our hands (Maxime de Villenfagne & Maxime Pecsteen). We share a common passion for entrepreneurship and a strong commitment to produce the finest quality soaps & shampoos using traditional production methods. Since November 2020, we have had, on several occasions, the great privilege to supply the Belgian Royal family and we are particularly honored to have been nominated by His Majesty the King of Belgians the « Fournisseur Breveté de la Cour de Belgique / Belgian Warrant Holder ». A very nice recognition of our qualitative and distinctive soaps.
What's the secret behind 'a good soap'?
Hahaha… That’s a good question! Quality is, so to speak, at the heart of our business: we specialize in the manufacture of top-of-the-range, customized soap using only the highest quality ingredients. Raw materials are carefully selected with full traceability to their point of origin in line with the Ministry of Health’s ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’ (GMP). The team works hand in hand with their long-term suppliers to innovate and keep up to date with new developments while keeping the traditional production of an extremely delicate and refined soap.
What is your approach towards sustainability?
Saponification is the outcome of a chemical reaction of vegetable oil and natrium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide. A good soap does not present any trace of hydroxide following this reaction.
Traditionally and until the end of the century in the western world, soap was produced using locally available tallow (animal fat). Animal ingredients have been prohibited from our factory since 2002. We purchase our soap base of vegetable origin only from carefully selected saponification companies and select raw materials in line with the formula required by the client. To answer a growing demand in sustainability we offer clients organic soap base and oils with the label “Segregated Responsible Sustainable Palm Oil" which means that the soap base is produced exclusively with oil coming from a plantation guaranteeing the fair and durable production of palm oil (the fruit) and palmist oil (the core).”
Can you tell us more about the methods you use to produce soap?
It’s a very well-kept secret… But what we can say is that after having determined (with you) the shape, the color, the appearance, and the formula, we will carefully mix the ingredients (mixer) listed on the production card.
Out of the mixer, the dough will pass through a triple mill. The dough will come out as thin as parchment, in order to improve the dispersion of the ingredients and the homogeneity of the soap paste. Following that, the dough will be refined (Refiner) and will rest for a period of time before being fed into the extruder (Plodder). In this machine, a series of augers and presses will compact the dough which will come out in the form of a large coil of hot malleable soap.
The malleable soap will finally be cut to the required size and then pressed into liquid-cooled brass molds at -30 ° C (Stamper). The heat shock will take off the soap from the shape and allow it to be taken out of its mold.
Excess dough is recovered and returned to production so that there is no waste.
While producing excellent soaps, we are careful to protect the surroundings from industrial waste and ensure that there is no pollution by sewage, paper, pallets or metals. All waste is sorted and recovered. The surroundings of the factory smell of soap and you might just recognize our lavender fragrance while passing by our factory in Laeken!
What is the perfect occasion to offer a custom soap?
Everyone like to smell good and would need soap at some point, right? So gifting a soap can actually suit a lot of people and occasions. It's also unique and original that changes from the t-shirts, pens and hats. What is cool is that it's sustainable and it will be used until the very end which means, no waste.
Opting for sustainable soap options can show that your company cares about the environment and is taking steps towards a more eco-friendly future. This is why we think it can suit every kind of company wanting to offer their employees or clients an original and sustainable gift. But as our minimum order quantity is 1000 pieces, we would think that our soap customizations would be more suitable for mid-size to large companies.
What merch in our catalog do you think would be the perfect match with your soaps?
That’s a difficult one, all of the merch on Merchery is just incredible and we’d want to get our hands on all of them. But if I had to choose one, we’d go for the waffle bathrobe…
Because what do you need after a nice bath with one of our soap? A warm and comfortable bathrobe of course!
Can you tell us more about a specific project you did with us?
One of the “fun” projects was to produce a soap for the Fifa Euro 2024 gift. The client wanted an artisanal cut while having a beautiful lean rectangular soap. The timing was quite challenging because we had to deliver the soaps in only 4 weeks, in one of the busiest periods of the year…. In the end, despite the hectic schedule, we were able to deliver the soap in time, with a nice Euro 2024 logo :)