Soap orders by soap by the
loaf are cold processed soaps. Cold processed soaps need
time to cure and age before they can be labeled and soap.
The Hot Process method of making soap does make for a bar that can
be sold right away but their texture is not the same as cold
process. Cold process soaps and usually smooth and hard bars
The reason why the bars need time
to cure is simple. We mentioned hot process above.
This is when the soap maker continues to cook each batch of soap
over a heat source, speeding up the process of the saponification
process (the lye) and continues to evaporate the wax. With
cold process soaps, such as you find at soap by the loaf, nature
takes care of the curing process merely by letting the soaps sit
out in the open.
When the soap is made, the fatty
ingredients (coconut, olive, shea, soybean) and blended with
sodium hydroxide (lye) along with essential oils and color and
spices or herbs. When the lye (diluted in water) mixes with
the molecules of the fatty oils - the end result is soap.
However, the soaping process, known as saponification, continues
over the next couple of weeks. As the bars of soap are
allowed to sit out in the air, the lye works its way out of the
batch and the water continues to evaporate.
A bar of soap CAN be used after
only two weeks of curing. It won't hurt you. But,
softer soaps melt away quicker in the shower or tub. When
your bars of soap are allowed to cure a few four to six weeks, the
end result is a very hard bar of soap. The basic rule is -
the longer it sits, the harder it gets and the longer it lasts.
When you receive your soap loaves
and have cut them into bars, spread the bars out a bit. A
small space between each one is enough to allow air to reach all
sides of the bar. But when the bars are crammed against each
other it makes it harder for the water in the bars of soap to
evaporate. Keep them at room temperature. Basically, a
temperature that is comfortable to you under normal living
conditions - not too hot and not too cold. Some customers
with little space have even told me that they place the bars on
trays and slide the trays under the bed with a small fan running
in the room when they are at home. Shelves in the laundry
room work well as a curing space for you soaps too. No other
options? Clean off a shelf in your closet. True, there
won't be as much air circulating in there but the soaps will still
cure and your clothes will smell amazing.
Another reason why some soaps need
a longer cure time has to do with their ingredients. Soaps
that contain honey tend to feel more 'oily' in the beginning.
If you label your honey soaps too soon it will leave an oily mark
on the label.
If you follow the simple rules of
how to cure your soap, it will make all the difference in the
response you get from customers. Their bars will last longer
and they will come back for more. After all, you wouldn't
want to buy cheese that hadn't been aged properly. Curing
soap is similar.