Curing soap - the proof sure is in the pudding!

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MySoapyHeart

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This will be perhaps a bit of a long read, and I understand if you can`t be bothered. But I just want to give you the background of why I felt so happy about this experience! And please understand, this is not a post to pat myself on the back, but I really wanted to add to what the above title imply;

Curing makes a huge difference in soaps, we know that. But, what`s more - it actually gets noticed by non-soapers too. That is a big deal.


The back story:

I visited a friend of mine last week. This is a friend I don`t get to se that often because she lives so far from me. I should perhaps mention that she is a single mom, taking care of two teenagers by herself. They use my soaps a lot (showering and hands) so I make sure she has got enough soap so she doesn`t have to spend money on that at least (or cheap detergent "soap"). Growing kids drain a tight budget, so I get to have more guineapigs around to critique my soaps, and she feels blessed with something I especially make for her with her favourite additives and fragrances. Win-win!

So, at one point during the visit I had to go to the ladies room, and a few of my soaps were as usual stacked neatly on the shelf, still wrapped in the silk tissue I use for protecting them from dust, but alowing them to breathe.

Anyway, one of my bars were in the soapdish on the sink, and I could see it was used regularly. I used it too, and was happy to see it was still a good piece of soap that held up well and that my hands felt great after using it. It was 6 months old, no sign of dos, the fragrance was pleasant and still present, soap firm and not gooey and bla-bla-bla. You guys know the drill!

Moving on... I finished up and we continued chatting about whatever. Then she started to bring up the subject of my soaps. She told me she was puzzled about something she have been noticing over a long period of time. (She has some experience in using other handmade soaps before)

At first I thought "uh-oh..." But then she pointed out that it seemed that my soaps lasted so long. She said they were foaming and giving up a lot of suds every time, but never the less, they seemed to last absolutely forever. Other soaps she has gotten elsewhere in the past has always melted so fast and wasn`t even half as longlasting, even making sure they was sitting in a soapdish that drained water out. They also made her hands feel a bit tight, but mine never did that. Why was that?

I explained to her that what she was experiencing now was not anything special, and that it was not a testament to my skills either, but simply something she should expect from any good soap with a good recipe that is made using CP & HP method. It is simply how a good piece of soap should perform at any time, if it is made properly and cured properly.

FYI - I cure my soaps 3 months at a minimum before I give them away. That way I get to test the batch out before sending them away from home.

I also reminded her of what I have been talking about in the past about the importance of well cured soaps, which was to let them get enough time to form a hard internal structure invisible to the naked eye, but that would alow the soap to melt slower but still release lots of suds and bubbles when used. I told her a new soap may bubble and foam ok after 2 weeks of curing, sure! But it will melt a lot faster, get used up way before it really should have, not bubble up as well as it could have, and would not be as mild as a well cured soap. Which is why I had her wait for a specific soap that was curing, because it needed more time.

You know those times when you see people get a real lightbulb moment? Where they stare out into thin air and you can formerly hear something fall into place, and they suddenly understand the actual effect of what you had previously claimed? Well, she got a moment like that right in front of me where she understood what it actually meant for a bar of soap to be cured properly. It may feel silly to some that I am so happy over such a thing. But it made me really happy, because I felt I was moving in the right direction and that I got my message accross that soaps are not made equal, and that it matters a lot how you go about it.

At the moment I am experiencing a flood of overwhelming feedback from people I gift my soaps to, with similar feedback as my friends, but also other things that are positive. I have people hinting all over the place if they can`t become guineapigs too, which of course makes me very happy. But it also takes time to sort it all out so I can keep doing things right without getting "high" on whatever some would call succsess, or whatever.

It also makes me feel real responsibility to keep on doing this process right, and not bite over more than I can chew.

"Slow and steady wins the race". Which is something I feel is so very appropriate when it comes to soap(ing).

End of ramble!

And if you made it this far, thank you for reading. Now go and make yourself a nice cup of tea. You have earned it <3

 

penelopejane

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Congratulations Mysoapyheart!

Wow what a compliment!

I've been making soap for 9 months now and like you I only give soap away that is 3 months old. I have a friend who used to buy handmade soap from a local shop but she doesn't buy it anymore as she says my soap is far better. Mine lasts longer and is creamier and much nicer on the skin. It is such a great feeling getting feedback like that because you feel like you are on the right track.

Problem is I am having trouble keeping up with the demand. I have to be less free with my presents or get into making more soap quickly.

I noticed on a webpage of someone who had been selling soap for years advertising a soap saver net bag to put your soap in when it became mushy! People come to expect that from handmade soap which I think is very disappointing and not a good look for the industry.
 

fuzz-juzz

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Great story! :D
And keep up the great work!
2 months of cure is bare minimum for my bars if I want to gift them. Difference that another 4-6 weeks on the tip of the initial cure time add, is amazing.

I understand some sellers experience high demands etc, but why sell something that's not ready to be used etc.? I belong to this small FB group of soapers and many newbies are advised that it's OK to wrap and sell soap after a WEEK. That's for CP. I get into fight with them every time cure and selling is discussed lol!
 

dibbles

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Thank you for sharing your experience MySoapyHeart. This is exactly the kind of thing we love to hear about. Taking your art seriously enough to make sure it is ready to be shared, and having it be appreciated in return - win-win!
 

Steve85569

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Thanks for the reminder that curing soap has a very real purpose. The fact that folks notice that your soaps last an incredibly long time shows that curing works and takes T.I.M.E..
Things
I
Must
Earn
All good soaps have earned it.
 

kc1ble

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Thank you for this post MySoapyHeart. As a new guy to soap making, I don't even have any soaps that are 3 months old yet. I have been using mine at four weeks and I am quite pleased with them. I do have some saved from every batch and will certainly let them get to the 3 month mark before I make any final decisions. As I anxiously wait, now I know the reward will be worth it.

Edit*- It's information like this that makes this forum an invaluable tool to those of us that are still learning. Thank you again!
 

MySoapyHeart

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Congratulations Mysoapyheart!

Wow what a compliment!

I've been making soap for 9 months now and like you I only give soap away that is 3 months old. I have a friend who used to buy handmade soap from a local shop but she doesn't buy it anymore as she says my soap is far better. Mine lasts longer and is creamier and much nicer on the skin. It is such a great feeling getting feedback like that because you feel like you are on the right track.

Problem is I am having trouble keeping up with the demand. I have to be less free with my presents or get into making more soap quickly.

I noticed on a webpage of someone who had been selling soap for years advertising a soap saver net bag to put your soap in when it became mushy! People come to expect that from handmade soap which I think is very disappointing and not a good look for the industry.
Thank you penelopejane : D And yay for you too! It is always such a confidence boost that someone prefers our soap to other soap, especially handmade ones! That means at least we are doing something right : )

I decided to get myself a slab mold - which is NOT a real slab mold, but just a very inexpensive foodfriendly storage box that can take the high ph of the lye. It holds 4 kg of batter and works great. I have just recently switched over to using that with my go-to recipes and that gives me a loooot of soap in one go. It is not much difference making 3-4 kg`s of soap than 1 kg. I actually prefer a bigger batch, but it sure takes up a lot of space when it cures. But that gives me much more soap in one go, and when it is ready to be used, I have a lot of soap on hand from that batch. Setting aside 3 pieces that is in the "observe" section, some set aside for personal use, and the rest to friends/family/gifts/Cavia porcellus.

---Also, I have started to cut up some pieces up a bit smaller so each bar is 70-75 grams instead of 120-140. After 3 months they have lost around 12% of water (give or take because of water redux in recipe) It ends up being around 60-65 grams (also depending how good I do the cutting job, I only have a knife).
Besides, a 60 gram long cured bar last a really long time too, so you can stretch the soaps a bit further this way. Just in case you want to try it out : )

Great story! :D
And keep up the great work!
2 months of cure is bare minimum for my bars if I want to gift them. Difference that another 4-6 weeks on the tip of the initial cure time add, is amazing.

I understand some sellers experience high demands etc, but why sell something that's not ready to be used etc.? I belong to this small FB group of soapers and many newbies are advised that it's OK to wrap and sell soap after a WEEK. That's for CP. I get into fight with them every time cure and selling is discussed lol!
Thank you fuzz-juzz : D

I know, right? Why would they ever risk it if it`s not ready!? And wrap and sell soap after a week?? Eeeek! *feel free to insert loud screeching sound here*.
So glad to hear to take on the challenge of letting them know *grin*. I am sure the way they do it will just damage the rep of handmade soaps because of their carelessness. When my friends bug me I just say, "Nope, you know the drill..." And it starts to sink in exactly why.

Thank you for sharing your experience MySoapyHeart. This is exactly the kind of thing we love to hear about. Taking your art seriously enough to make sure it is ready to be shared, and having it be appreciated in return - win-win!
Thank you dibbles! Yes, it is so fun when they start to realize that there is an important balance and not all soapers take this seriously enough. And I have also found, that since they know how I feel about it I sometimes overhear some of them. They repeat things I have said, and they do it with such conviction too, that I feel they are sort of passing the information to others without me being there to put words in their mouth : )
 

MySoapyHeart

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Thanks for the reminder that curing soap has a very real purpose. The fact that folks notice that your soaps last an incredibly long time shows that curing works and takes T.I.M.E..
Things
I
Must
Earn
All good soaps have earned it.
You are most welcome Steve! And you are so right, all soaps have a right to get a fair chance to become the best version of themselves! It is like... unfair to them not to let them even get a chance : )

Thank you for this post MySoapyHeart. As a new guy to soap making, I don't even have any soaps that are 3 months old yet. I have been using mine at four weeks and I am quite pleased with them. I do have some saved from every batch and will certainly let them get to the 3 month mark before I make any final decisions. As I anxiously wait, now I know the reward will be worth it.

Edit*- It's information like this that makes this forum an invaluable tool to those of us that are still learning. Thank you again!
You are so very welcome, kc1ble, makes me so happy you felt this was usefull to you! And if you find your soaps great at 4 weeks, just wait untill they get another month, or two. Soooo worth it : )

I feel I should mention something that I didn`t remember to put in my post (but that would have made it even longer, lol)

And that is that there is of course absolutely nothing wrong in curing a bar in 4/6/8 weeks. You don`t have to wait 12 weeks as I do! But me waiting to give soaps away after the 12 weeks is my personal preference, and gives me enough time to know the soap and recipe well. And if it suddenly start to show signs that I simply can`t see after, say, 6 weeks, even though the soap itself is absolutely wonderfull, I have time to observe and set it aside so I can make corrections to a recipe or the additives, before I make it again. Issues that arise can be colors that fade or turns ugly, fragrance that warp or goes away, I cut it too thick, too thin, etc. To this day I have not had even one soap get dos, ( I have soon been soaping for a year and a half) but that doesn`t mean DOS can`t happen still! So I watch out for that too, like a hawk.

Well done!
Thank you, Susie! : )

Sweet! It's always an awesome moment when the light bulb finally comes on. I love it!


IrishLass :)
Thank you IrishLass! It said *click* and it was really fun to watch. It was sort of like those comedy moments where a person suddenly realizes something, and the soundeffect adds a sound of something falling into place, lol.

What a great story, MySoapyHeart! What a great friend you are. Thank you for sharing!
You are welcome, and thank you Krista! She is a great friend too, so it goes both ways : )
 

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