How to take proper care of your handmade soap.
No, this isn’t advice on how to make your soap last longer in the shower and stop it from going soft and mushy when wet. If you’re looking for advice on that, my advice is to use a soap (like ours) which doesn’t go soft and mushy as soon as it gets two drops of water on it. This does seem to be a problem with a lot of cold-process soaps, particularly those made using only vegetable oils, to the extent that some soap makers recommend that you buy two bars of soap (coincidentally doubling their sales) and alternate between them each day so they don’t turn into a gooey mess, so maybe I’ll do a future blog post about what qualities the oils used for soap-making should have to avoid this problem.
What this blog post was meant to be about though, is how to take care of your soap before it’s used in the bath or shower. A lot of people buy our soap to give away as gifts, or simply buy it in bulk (in order to take advantage of our free shipping, for instance) and they want their soap to be in the same beautiful condition they received it in when it comes out of storage. The basic principles when it comes to storing handmade soap are the same as those for storing medication. The essential oils and and free emollient oils from the super-fatting in our soap will be degraded by heat, light, humidity and oxygen, so simply keep them away from these and you’re good. That’s it – no need to read further if you’re not interested in the details.
The name of the game in storing anything, be it food, antiques, collectable books, or soap, is the same. Keep it at a relatively low, constant temperature, keep it away from direct sunlight (or other strong light sources) keep it as dry as possible, and keep it away from oxygen ( as far as you can manage this ). Light decomposes antioxidant molecules, essential oils, and any free oils from super-fatting in soaps, so exposing your soap to this will result in it developing that rancid oil smell much sooner than it otherwise would.
Heat speeds up chemical reactions, such as the chemical decomposition of antioxidants, essential oils, and free oils, so exposing your soap to higher temperatures will lead to it developing a rancid oil scent sooner.
Humidity also increases the rate of chemical reactions, leading to the same results as heat. Combining higher humidity with heat makes the process even faster.
Oxygen is the culprit behind the decomposition or oxidation of the molecules in your soap ( that’s why the antioxidants help keep soap smelling good longer, but they eventually get used up ). There’s not that much you can easily do to reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, so it’s best to simply reduce the direct air flow around your soaps, for example, by packing them between your linen, or socks or undies.
So, in summary, find somewhere cool, dark and dry to store your soaps until you are ready to use them or give them as gifts. Cupboards in a room other than the bathroom should generally be a good place to store them.
*Warning!* Some of our customers have told us that family members who visit them often help themselves to any of our soaps they find in cupboards. This, we can’t really help you with…In fact, if I could figure out a way to encourage it, I probably would.
If you need a soap to give as a gift, or a family member has “borrowed” the one you had, you might like to try ours.