Lovely bubbles, soothing lather, and the fresh wonderful aroma of handmade soap.. ahhhh, don’t you just love it! If you use handmade soap, you know how wonderful it is for you and your skin, but do you know how to properly care for your soap, or even why it matters?
Handmade soaps have a naturally high glycerin content. Glycerine is a humectant, which means it absorbs water into its structure—great for skin, but not necessarily ideal for a long-lasting bar. Maybe that’s a reason commercial soaps (talking soaps here, not detergents) often have much or all of the glycerine content removed—to provide the appearance of a longer lasting bar.
The more water in a bar of soap, the mushier it is, and faster the glycerine will degrade and wash away your soap. Some soapers call this “melting”—think wicked witch of the west here. If you leave your soap in, near, or around water, it will melt away.
But, soap is for washing, and washing means water, so what’s a soap lover to do?
How to make soap last longer?
In between uses, keep your soap out of the water, and let it fully dry out. Sounds simple, but there are a few catches:
- Ready-made soap cavities in showers and on sinks are the WRONG place for handmade soap. These little built-in alcoves let water pool around the bottom of your soap. That is one sure fire way to melt your precious soap.
- Metal will degrade soap, can cause the soap to rancid, and to develop DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots)
- Soap should be stored in a way that will allow air to circulate around all surfaces (even the bottom).
Use a Soap Dish!
A soap dish can be anything that elevates the soap and provides draining. They can be wooden, ceramic, plastic, or nearly any material that’s not metal (and wooden dishes help wick water away). They can be anything from a simple platform to a beautiful work of art for your bathroom.
Consider Using Smaller Bars of Soap—Bigger is Not Always Better
Handmade soaps come in as many sizes and shapes as there are people making them. I personally like smaller bars but have been known to make some hefty 5-6 ounce bars. Why smaller bars? Because there’s less soap being exposed to water when you use them! If you have a larger bar of soap, consider chopping it in half, and storing the unused portion.
A Quick Note on Storing Soaps
If you have bars of handmade soap that are not in use, the best place to keep them is in a nice dry, cool, and dark closet. Keeping them in the linen closet or the sock drawer also has the added benefit of scenting the fabrics with the soap smell! Soap will last indefinitely with a few considerations:
- After about 3 months, scents can start to fade. Especially scents from essential oils and citrus.
- If you break the bar open or start to use it and expose the inner soap, you will notice the there’s more smell hidden in there.
If you forget about a bar of soap in the back of the closet and stumble across it years and years later… You have found a rare gem of soap! Many soaps continue to cure and mature over time, and the older they are, the milder and more wonderful they are to use. As long as your bar does not look or smell rancid, it’s still good soap! It will clean and lather, but it might not retain the original aroma after a year or more in the closet.