The Ayla Sea Soak: Ingredients & Sustainability
Our Sea Soak contains just two ingredients: seaweed and salt. But not just any seaweed and salt — read on to learn more about why they’re so special.
Above, Dara (our founder) and Ian (our seaweed forager) are visiting the kelp beds we harvest from early in the growing season.
While Bladderwrack is typically used in Irish seaweed baths due to its abundance in the Atlantic, we’ve opted for the iodine-rich brown wild seaweed of the Pacific coast, Giant Kelp. This majestic plant is richer in anti-inflammatory alginate gel and the powerful polysaccharide fucoidan, and it grows up to 2 feet per day. And, instead of collecting seaweed that has washed up on the shore, our incredible seaweed forager sustainably hand-harvests live wild kelp at sea, only trimming the top part of the plant. Picture Ian in a boat, leaning over and using a Victorinox kitchen knife to trim less than 4 feet of kelp at a time: that’s exactly what happens.
The amount we harvest from these abundant kelp beds is very limited, and it grows back within a week. To ensure maximum potency, Ian rinses our kelp in the Santa Cruz mountains immediately after he harvests; it’s then sun-dried in the California desert (after being chopped into pieces so that more of the alginate gel is available to your bath). And by the way, we test each batch for purity and potency — and we believe it’s the best seaweed you can get.
Above, Dara and Carlo (our salt artisan) check out the latest batch of salt that Carlo created for us and hand-delivered to our studio.
Salt is the key to drawing out the benefits of our kelp in your hot bathwater. But did you know that microplastics are found in about 90% of table salt? (Now you do. Sorry.)
We get our special sea salt from Carlo, a devoted salt artisan in Big Sur. To make it, he filters Big Sur seawater — which is already pristine — nine times, because luckily for us all, Carlo finds the thought of microplastics in salt to be abhorrent. Most of his seawater comes from the Granite Canyon Marine Lab, where they collect it regularly for their own monitoring activities.
Carlo then brings the water to a greenhouse, where he built special wooden salt beds lined with bentonite clay. He then waits for it to evaporate, which takes about four months — yes, four months — and then breaks it up with a big shovel to get those beautiful pieces you see in your salt container.
Carlo’s salt happens to be a favorite finishing salt of local chefs in the finest restaurants (truly, the finest: think Post Ranch Inn) due to its incomparable saltiness, freshness, and purity. It's also higher in a number of trace minerals, like potassium and calcium, than salt made from water elsewhere along the California coast.
Don’t you see how we couldn’t put these incredible ingredients in just any packaging? We have sourced, printed, or made as much of our packaging as possible in the Golden State, and each element of the plastic-free Sea Soak packaging is recyclable or compostable.
The biodegradable organic cotton bath bag is hand-stitched in San Francisco by a female-owned and –run manufacturer. When you’re done with your soak, you can drop the cotton bag (seaweed and all) in your compost bin, or bury it in your garden. It makes for a marvelous fertilizer.
You’ll notice that instead of using void fill, we’ve included an unbleached tea towel. We suggest using that during your bath to keep your phone from getting wet when you listen to your Sea Soak meditation. After your bath, you’ll find that it’s an excellent replacement for paper towels.
Please recycle the paper components of your Sea Soak packaging when you’re done with them (although the paper clamshell and salt cylinder have plenty of reusability potential). To compost the kraft paper seaweed bag, just remove the tin tie first.
We are fortunate to have been able to ask members of the California EPA and Ocean Protection Council for their perspective in order to create a product that responsibly features California's incredible natural resources. Our conversations with them led to our partnership with Reef Check Foundation, an incredible “citizen science” nonprofit that educates and empowers anyone who’s SCUBA certified to help with marine conservation efforts.
In the state of California, Reef Check was instrumental in helping the California Ocean Protection Council to establish Marine Protected Areas and provides them with data on an ongoing basis to monitor the health of those important coastal ecosystems. Reef Check also has chapters in 40 countries where they specialize in coral reef conservation.
We adore this organization because they prove that if you want to have a measurable impact on the health of the ocean, you can do even more than pick up trash on the beach (which is important, too). We partnered with Reef Check because we feel they truly effect change on a local level, and we know that our donations will have a real impact in ensuring the ongoing health of California’s kelp forests.
Our Sea Soak is designed to be a profound way to witness the power of individual ingredients in their natural state, at the highest level of quality, and at the peak of freshness. It’s also a love letter to our beautiful state of California and its natural, untouched beauty — and a reminder to us all to protect the Earth’s natural beauty, everywhere.
(And by the way, our commitment to sustainability doesn't start and end with the Sea Soak. Read about how we operate more eco-consciously with our day to day shipments here.)