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It is probably not very widely known that natural fibers, particularly wool, cotton, and silk, are extremely unmanageable when it comes to processing them, especially with regard to bleaching, dying or finishing. For centuries, soap was well known as an additive for preparing fibers for processing —albeit imperfect, largely due to its susceptibility to the hardening elements in water. For this reason, in the second half of the 19th century, Turkish red oils, made from sulfonated castor oil were used more frequently for this purpose.
Advertising for Monopol soap, around 1910
In 1896, Dr. Julius Stockhausen, the founder and general partner of the Krefeld-based soap factory Stockhausen & Traiser, made a breakthrough in the development of modern textile additives. Monopole soap and its liquid variant, Monopole oil, are also sulfonated castor oils, but more sulfonated than normal Turkish red oils and yield much better results in dying textiles. Hans Stockhausen, one of Dr. Julius Stockhausen’s sons, succeeded in furthering the development of Monopole soap, which initially had only been successful in the laboratory, so that it could go into production on a large-scale. He was also able to find a ready market for it, particularly in the silk industry. Monopole soap and Monopole oil were considered at that time to be the “first real textile additives.” They not only created a new market, but also characterized the Crefelder Seifenfabrik for a long time. Within a few years, business with Monopole soap and some of its derivatives grew so much that a new factory, which still exists today, had to be built on the Bäkerpfad especially for its production. In addition, in 1912, the Chemische Fabrik Stockhausen & Cie. was founded and quickly became independent of the old soap factory. Although by the 1930s Monopole soap was no longer modern and became completely insignificant after WWII, it is considered today a key product in the history of the company, which is today Evonik Stockhausen GmbH. Essentially, Stockhausen’s excellent reputation is founded on it even though the company sold off its textile business in 2002 to Bozzetto GmbH, which is still producing at the Krefeld site, today an Evonik Industries site.