Can Soap Mold?

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TeaLeavesandTweed

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I should have gotten a picture of this, but I didn't think about it. About 2 months ago, I made a Winnie-the-Pooh themed soap for a play I'm in.

It's 80% lard, 20% coconut oil, 5% superfat, used distilled aloe vera as the liquid, soaped with full water, 0.5oz NG Honey Bunny FO ppo, and added a swirl of gold mica dispersed in a bit of avocado oil on top. I got a bit of ash, but nothing horrid.

It's been curing for almost 2 months and I've zap tested it (nothing) and tested it washing my hands (a bit drying, but no harshness).

So I go to wrap it up today. The only difference from how it's been for the last 2 months is that I moved it from my soaping room to the floor of my living room so I could wrap while watching TV. As I was wrapping, I noticed the soap started feeling a bit wet. Then, I noticed that the bars seemed to have a weird white fuzz on them, almost like patches of mold. But it rubbed right off and didn't seem to affect the surface of the soap. And the bars still in the soaping room had nothing.

Has anyone seen this? Was it picking something up from the air? I mean, mold can't just spontaneously pop up in a matter of minutes, can it? And can a soap with a reasonable superfat and no botanical extras mold?

Right now, I've rubbed off the obvious fuzz and I'm letting the bars sit overnight to see if any more grows on them, but I'm a little worried about giving this as gifts. Any ideas?
 

DeeAnna

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If it's WHITE, it is likely to be plain ol' soda ash. Ash ~usually~ looks like a thin powdery layer, but ash can grow into some amazing, odd-looking stuff. In the "lye heavy castile" thread a year or so ago, we saw ash that looked like sparkly snow crystals and white fur. Sounds like your soap grew fur. :)

On the other hand, if you said you had put something that fungus likes to eat on the soap for decoration and the fuzz was brown-black-green-gray-pink or whatever (anything other than pure white) and it was growing on or near the food source, then the fuzz could certainly be mold.

But I think your soap is fine.
 

TeaLeavesandTweed

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The thing is, this was fluffy-fuzzy, not mineral-y like soda ash. Is there such a thing as fluffy soda ash? This looked for all the world like the fuzzy patches of mold that grow on bread.

But you're right, there's not much in or on the soap that mold likes to eat, unless I've discovered a rare strand of mold that noms gold mica...
 

galaxyMLP

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I've had HP soap that started getting "fuzz" on it. I never came to the 100% conclusion of whether it was fat bloom or soda ash. I settled for soda ash because it only happened on the bars that were exposed to air and not the ones that were wrapped. This was after they were months old. Soap can sometimes to strange things!
 

Susie

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My soda ash is almost always fluffy. I thought it was mold when I was new.
 

shunt2011

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I've had soda ash get fuzzy/fluffy looking as well. Kind of freaked me out the first time.
 

nsmar4211

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My CP soda ash is fluffy/powdery and can get quite thick with some FO's!
 

DeeAnna

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Fat bloom, from what I've seen of it, is a thin flat white layer. If you rub it, your fingers will feel waxy or even slightly sticky. It doesn't have a characteristic taste.

Ash can be fuzzy and it can protrude from the surface of the soap. It will feel dry or powdery on your fingers and will have a salty-metallic-bitter taste.

Mold can be a lot of colors including very pale gray, but it won't be white-white, at least what I've seen of it. IMO, mold is unusual on bar soap unless the soap maker has overloaded the soap with food type ingredients (oatmeal flakes, flower petals, food puree, etc.) or the soap has become heavily contaminated during use with something that can mold. Can't speak to the taste -- never tried it! :)
 

TeaLeavesandTweed

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Ash can be fuzzy and it can protrude from the surface of the soap. It will feel dry or powdery on your fingers and will have a salty-metallic-bitter taste.

Mold can be a lot of colors including very pale gray, but it won't be white-white, at least what I've seen of it. IMO, mold is unusual on bar soap unless the soap maker has overloaded the soap with food type ingredients (oatmeal flakes, flower petals, food puree, etc.) or the soap has become heavily contaminated during use with something that can mold. Can't speak to the taste -- never tried it! :)
Thanks. This really helps. I didn't taste the fluff because I thought it might be mold, but everything else was exactly as you described. I honestly felt better as soon as you posted your first response because if DeaAnna is telling me not to worry, well, she knows her stuff.

Thanks everyone. I've brushed off the fluff/ash and packaged the soaps.
 

DeeAnna

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Don't you never no-how swallow what I say whole!!! Chew first! :think: :mrgreen:

Translation to proper English: Always be skeptical!! Decide if what I say actually fits with your experience! :think:

I'm not always right. I sometimes worry I might give bad advice and someone will end up being injured or unhappy.

I'm glad I could help, TLaT, and it sounds like my ideas and suggestions agree with what you're seeing with your soap.
 
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lenarenee

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Fat bloom? What you describe is what the majority of my soap gets but I always thought it was ash - how would I tell between it and ash?
 

galaxyMLP

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You know when chocolate gets that white stuff on it? Thats fat bloom. Soaps that are SF'ed can get it too. Although I don't think its too common. I didn't know it could happen until a post a while back here.
 

DeeAnna

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I don't see fat bloom very often on my soap, but it is pretty common on chocolate and on good quality harness leather. Since my day job is working with leather, I see fat bloom fairly often, especially in the fall and winter.

It is a natural thing that happens when chocolate (or leather or soap) warms up and cools down. The temp swing causes a small amount of fat to work its way to the surface. This fat looks whitish. If you rub it with your fingertip, it will leave an invisible but waxy or slightly sticky film on your fingertips. Fungus (mold) or soap ash are powdery, not waxy.

It can be polished off of soap or leather with a soft cloth and a bit of friction or gentle heat. On chocolate ... heck, solve that problem by eating it!
 
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