Curing and Ventilation in warm climates

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goldendaddie

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Aloha! I live in Hawaii and I’m going to make my first batch of soap in a few weeks (once all my online orders arrive). Once I begin the curing phase (4-6 weeks), I have extremely limited areas to have my soap hang out undisturbed. The two spots I‘m considering for curing:
- linen closet upstairs
- shelf inside the garage

The hottest it gets inside the house is about 84F degrees and then we kick on the A/C. The coolest is around 72F which is when everyone feels chilly (I know, Hawaii right?) and the A/C gets turned off.

In the garage it can get much warmer, and without throwing some kind of thermometer in there I’d guess it can get low to mid 90’s during the hottest part of really sunny days. This can be mitigated by cracking the garage door 6 inches and putting a fan to circulate some air. This is not an issue for us, either, if it ends up being the solution.

My questions:
1) How much is enough ventilation? In the linen closet it would be the coolest, but the air flow is a bit less because the two sliding doors are not left open. Mostly because I believe our cats would begin nesting on the towels. They can be jerks. But it’s not packed in there whatsoever - the soap would have plenty of room to cure.
2) In the garage there would be plenty of ventilation, but it’s warmer. Is this a factor I should consider for curing?
 

glendam

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Humidity also needs to be considered. It slows the curing process. I would go with the closet with a dehumidifier. Not sure about the heat, as our AC seems to always be running
 

Arimara

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I'm on the East Coast in NY so I only deal with humidity for a few months out of the year. A well ventilated room with a dehumidifier would be your best bet to cure your soap.
 

Susie

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Speaking as someone from hot, humid Louisiana, heat and humidity are not the issue that ventilation is. Ventilation is absolutely vital. Where ever it is, it needs to have free air movement around it 24/7. No closed linen closet. No closed garage. What about the tops of the kitchen cabinets? Or the tops of bookshelves?
 

shunt2011

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It needs to have good air circulation. A small fan may help in the closet. I wouldn't do the garage, too hot. Even on a bookshelf will work in an open room.
 

earlene

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In your situation with cats and as you describe your home, I'd tend to agree with shunt's suggestion. I found that in Hawaii without AC, that soaps pulled moisture from the air. Even at 72 degrees, with high humidity you soap will cure more slowly if your AC is off. So I'd add a dehumidifier to the closet and a small fan to boot.

Another option regarding the cats, is to create a soap curing rack anywhere out in the open in a bigger room, and enclosing it in mesh curtains of some sort. There are a couple of SMFers here who use a similar set-up with gauze surrounding racks for curing to keep the kitty hairs and dust off the soap, but allowing air circulation. Just don't put the soap near a window. Too much sunlight can facilitate DOS.

Although the garage seems a tempting idea, when you leave the door open to facilitate air flow and so forth, the humidity would still be quite high and if even with a fan, probably still rather warm, plus the neighborhood critters are bound to come investigate because that is in their nature.
 

DeeAnna

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"...I’m going to make my first batch of soap in a few weeks (once all my online orders arrive) ..."

If I'm reading this correctly, you're selling soap already? Without ever having made a batch? Soap making has a steep learning curve, and most people need to gain experience before selling to develop their skills and ensure the quality of their soap is sufficiently good. Have you given this issue some thought?

edit: For example, I make decently good soap for Iowa, but I am very aware that if I moved to my friend's place in Belize, I'd have to reformulate. The recipes and methods I use here are not suitable for Belize, based on experience gained over several years of vacations there. Even if I could cure my soap in an air conditioned, lower humidity space, that doesn't solve the problem of getting the soap to perform well in a non-air-conditioned bath with unsoftened well water, which is how many homes are set up. Even though I am an experienced soap maker, I'd not sell soap in Belize until I knew I had reliable recipes well adapted to the circumstances.
 
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goldendaddie

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Speaking as someone from hot, humid Louisiana, heat and humidity are not the issue that ventilation is. Ventilation is absolutely vital. Where ever it is, it needs to have free air movement around it 24/7. No closed linen closet. No closed garage. What about the tops of the kitchen cabinets? Or the tops of bookshelves?
We do have some space above the kitchen counters that would work pretty well, actually, now that I look up there. And it would get the most ventilation there than anywhere else with the ceiling fan in that room. Thank you!

"...I’m going to make my first batch of soap in a few weeks (once all my online orders arrive) ..."

If I'm reading this correctly, you're selling soap already? Without ever having made a batch? Soap making has a steep learning curve, and most people need to gain experience before selling to develop their skills and ensure the quality of their soap is sufficiently good. Have you given this issue some thought?

edit: For example, I make decently good soap for Iowa, but I am very aware that if I moved to my friend's place in Belize, I'd have to reformulate. The recipes and methods I use here are not suitable for Belize, based on experience gained over several years of vacations there. Even if I could cure my soap in an air conditioned, lower humidity space, that doesn't solve the problem of getting the soap to perform well in a non-air-conditioned bath with unsoftened well water, which is how many homes are set up. Even though I am an experienced soap maker, I'd not sell soap in Belize until I knew I had reliable recipes well adapted to the circumstances.
DeeAnna, the online orders are all of my soapmaking equipment: stick blender, containers, lye, rubber spatulas, etc. I honestly doubt that I’ll ever sell my soap, but that may change once I retire from the military. I’ll probably just use it mostly for myself and then give some away to anyone who is interested, and ask their feedback.
 

Susie

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I was going to make the point that your soap will be used in a hot, humid place (the bathroom), so curing it there is a really good test. But I see you understand that.

If you are going to be using this soap with unsoftened hard water, go ahead and get some EDTA. It won't hurt your soap a bit to have it in there, and gets you vital practice in how to formulate with it.
 

penelopejane

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We have similar high temps to you but our winter temps get down to 50*F.
I don’t get a lot of ventilation in my soaping area. I use a dehumidifier with a fan incorporated in it. It seems to work really well to dry sweating soap and add airflow in summer. You might be able to have your curing racks on wheels so you can move them into a hall for more ventilation. Sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation you have.
I’d be wary of putting soap high up in a kitchen because heat and smells rise. I
definitely wouldn’t put your soap in the garage - it will be too hot there without an air conditioner.
 
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Louise Taylor

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Hey, good luck with making your first batch. My soap space is a converted caravan - think breaking bad - so I have heat and humidity in the Summer. I find that running an air conditioning unit with a built in dehumidifier works really well.
 

DeeAnna

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Please accept my apologies, @goldendaddie. I misread what you said and leaped to a wrong conclusion. Thank you for kindly straightening me out.
 

lsg

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I make and store my soap in our finished basement. It tends to be a little damp, so I keep a room dehumidifier in every room. You might consider this as an option. Many dehumidifiers have a fan, so this could help with humidity and air flow.
 

MelissaG

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I'm in Louisiana not far from the coast. It's very humid. Really, as long as you have an air conditioner that's always running during the summer (and if you live in that humid of an area, you will), humidity won't be an issue while curing because air conditioners naturally dry out the air. Although if you leave the house with them after they've been cured, you should wrap them in plastic because the humidity will make them soft and maybe sweaty. But I agree about ventilation. You will need that.
 

KiwiMoose

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Hope this is not delving too far back to be considered a necropost. I have recently been experiencing sweaty soap :(
Our temperatures are lower this week, but the humidity has been over 80%. Our thingy inside says it's around 70% inside. It seems that the soap can withstand relatively high temperatures, but not the humidity. Most of the sweaty soaps are newer - some of them only a couple of weeks into cure, but others are two - three months old. Some of the older soap is fine and does not seem to be affected.
In New Zealand we don't tend to air condition our homes like you do in the US. If it's hot - we open a window, lol. I almost wonder if I should close the window while it's humid because surely that would make the dampness worse?
How long do you think the soap would be able to withstand being sweaty before being negatively affected ( rancidity or such-like).
Am I going to have to bite the bullet and buy a dehumidifier?
Please let me know of your experiences.
 

Relle

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We have had a lot humidity lately and my soap sweats. I just leave it on the rack and it dries out again and again and again. It hasn't negatively affected it, I have new soap and old soap that still sweat. Mine are in the laundry and the window is open about 3 inches most of the time, the door is open during the day and closed at night. Forget a humidifier and just let it be. I just wipe it down before giving it for presents, usually put in a sealable cellophane bag. Our air con is a window too.
 

KiwiMoose

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We have had a lot humidity lately and my soap sweats. I just leave it on the rack and it dries out again and again and again. It hasn't negatively affected it, I have new soap and old soap that still sweat. Mine are in the laundry and the window is open about 3 inches most of the time, the door is open during the day and closed at night. Forget a humidifier and just let it be. I just wipe it down before giving it for presents, usually put in a sealable cellophane bag. Our air con is a window too.
Thanks Relle - good to hear.
 

Susie

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I just don't seal it up and let it do what it wants. Like Relle, sometimes it sweats and dries, sweats and dries. It is headed for a bathroom, after all. And it will be fine if it is just not sealed up. I do ensure that there is space between bars, but other than that, I just don't ...sweat...it.
 

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