First-Wash Phenomenon

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BrewerGeorge

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Does anybody else always find that the first wash with a (properly cured) bar of soap is very underwhelming? Then from the second wash onward, it lathers as expected?

As I get more experienced at judging my soaps, I'm developing expectations about how they should perform. Over and over, I've grabbed a bar off the rack and thought something was wrong the first time I used it. It took me a while to make the connection because I only need a new bar every couple of weeks, but there is a definite correlation. It even happened with a bar of Ivory I grabbed off the shelf yesterday. (I was already undressed for the shower and didn't want to go back out to the garage to get my soap.) Yesterday I was congratulating myself on my soap being SO much better than that Ivory, but sure enough this morning the Ivory was MUCH better than it was yesterday - although still not as good as mine .:mrgreen:

Has anybody else ever noticed this? If it's happening, any theories what's going on?
 

BattleGnome

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I notice the same thing. My theory is: soap may have a trace of ash or other chemical barrier due to the chemical reactions that make soap, for all we know it's a layer of microscopic ash. Wash that off and you have properly functioning soap. I think that's why some people swear by dipping their soap before use (dip in water and let it dry), it washes off that layer of whatever and starts off like a second use the first time.
 

DeeAnna

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Yes, I've seen that too. When I do a lather test, I usually wet and wash with the soap once as a trial run, then wash again and evaluate the lather then.

I have wondered if it's caused by soda ash on the surface that has to be removed from a new, unused bar. Even if there's not any obvious visible ash, there can still be some, and it might temporarily reduce the amount of soap that washes off and thus less lather for the first wash.

Or maybe some of the water from the first wash soaks in and softens the hard surface of the soap, so the soap can rub off a little easier and lather better when used a second time. I notice a lather reduction when I wash with a partly-used bar has been sitting dry for awhile -- the lather is a bit less for that first wash. I don't think this is quite as much of a lather reduction as the first wash with a new bar, but some.

As you can see, I don't think I have a definite answer for you, but you're not the only one to notice this!
 

powderpink

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Same. My soaps usually have this super rich creamy lather.. but during the first wash, they have this big watery bubble thing going on. I just figured they have stage fright at first ;)
 

Obsidian

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Yep, same thing here. I've noticed its worse with salt bars, they might take 2-3 uses before they start to lather properly. Salt bars also seem to make more ash then regular soap.
 

lenarenee

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I think its more than ash. I've put a half used bar of fully cured soap back on the curing shelf for a couple of weeks, then used it again and found it needs to be "primed" before it lathers as its best. (Actually that's a common practice of mine since I don't have the patience to finish a bar before trying a new scent! Pretty pitiful huh?)

That leads me to believe that the soap has to absorb a pit of moisture to be soluble.

However, I find a truly soggy, melty bar of soap doesn't lather well...food for thought.:think:
 

shunt2011

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I think its more than ash. I've put a half used bar of fully cured soap back on the curing shelf for a couple of weeks, then used it again and found it needs to be "primed" before it lathers as its best. (Actually that's a common practice of mine since I don't have the patience to finish a bar before trying a new scent! Pretty pitiful huh?)

That leads me to believe that the soap has to absorb a pit of moisture to be soluble.

However, I find a truly soggy, melty bar of soap doesn't lather well...food for thought.:think:
I agree with this. I think it forms a kind of skin that is washed off when using. I alternate bars as I have quite a few in the shower at any given time and have noticed the same thing.
 

mrsserena

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I think it's oxidation, from exposure to air. Our maybe just really dry soap doesn't lather as well.

Dang it, now I have to do some research to see if I can figure it out. [emoji53]
 
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DawninWA

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I always thought it was just that the outside is dried out more, use up that dried up layer and the rest of the soap is fine.
 

nsmar4211

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I noticed the same thing and I chalked it up to needing a bit of moisture to "get going". I've also noticed it on a freshly trimmed bar of soap , which killed my original thought of the outside being dusty/shell/etc (never considered ash but that would make sense). Maybe it just needs a reminder of what it's supposed to do? :mrgreen:
 

Susie

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The scent is also better on the second and subsequent uses. Whatever it is, I tell all my testers to use it a few days before judging.
 

topofmurrayhill

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I think its more than ash. I've put a half used bar of fully cured soap back on the curing shelf for a couple of weeks, then used it again and found it needs to be "primed" before it lathers as its best. (Actually that's a common practice of mine since I don't have the patience to finish a bar before trying a new scent! Pretty pitiful huh?)

That leads me to believe that the soap has to absorb a pit of moisture to be soluble.

However, I find a truly soggy, melty bar of soap doesn't lather well...food for thought.:think:
Yeah I'd go with the simple moisture hypothesis. You need the right balance of soap and water for maximum lather, so that could explain your observations of both dry and soggy bars.
 

ngian

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I have also noticed that phenomenon you all talk about, and I am guessing also that the moisture of the soap bar's surface is to blame.

I think I have seen that "weird" behaviour being more intense in bars that are less water soluble because of their recipe (less Coconut/Castor oils) when after a few uses they somehow "wake up".
 
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