How To Prolong The Life Of Palm Oil Free Hand Made Soap.

July 11th 2014

We all want a bar of soap that's not only kind to our skin, but lasts well and is good value for money right?

What you might not realise is that the oils we choose when making a bar of soap have a big impact on the hardness of the finished bar.  Other factors also come into play, such as how long the bar is aged or 'cured' and how the bar is stored between use.

When we made the  decision to phase out the use of our organic, sustainable palm oil we knew that it would be a challenge to make a bar that was just as hard and long lasting.  We substituted palm with cacao and shea butter, as they both contribute to the hardness. The downside to using cacao and shea butter is that they're around three to four times as expensive as organic, sustainable palm oil.  So, our cost of production went up considerably while we've made every attempt to keep our bar price down.  Environmentalism and social conscience has a price.  

Oddly enough, palm oil and lard/tallow are almost identical in their triglyceride structure - both are high in palmitic and stearic acid.  Once shunned in favour of vegetarian palm oil, these animal fats are making a comeback both for the health benefits of a stable saturated fat (over processed hydrogenated vegetable fats) and for their environmental credentials.  Naturally, animal fat is very similar to our own and the unadulterated oil from grass fed, hormone free, locally sourced animals may one day make a comeback as a sustainable soap ingredient.

Very interesting, yet Washpool Farm soap is based on vegetable oils, so we're left with the issue of how to get the very best value from our beautiful bar of soap.

Well, this  might sound a bit weird considering the purpose of soap, but allowing your bar to drain well and dry between use will significantly extend the life of a bar.  A soap rack with big slots to allow plenty of air circulation works well.  Dishes with a single hole that sometimes gets clogged will lead to soggy soap, regardless of whether it's handmade or commercially made.  

I like to keep more than one bar in the shower and alternate between them.  I kind of base my choice on mood, moving from a spicy oatmeal filled bar in the morning to a more feminine geranium goat milk bar at night.  I get to enjoy some variety, and my bars get to dry out completely between use.  

Another technique that prolongs the life of your soap bar is to use a bath puff or washer.  Rub the bar over the wet washer and place the bar back on the rack to dry.  This also happens to be the technique I recommend when washing small children.  Swish the soap through the water and put it up to dry or rub a little on a washer and hand it to the child to wash themself.  This is all the soap they need and will avoid the disappointment of finding their lovely goat milk soap bar in a soggy mess at the bottom of the bath.

When travelling, you can avoid the soggy soap syndrome by cutting your bar down to guest bar size pieces.  

Finally, you could employ a technique our grandmothers and great grand mothers used.  These frugal women knew that a well cured (aged) bar would be harder and last longer.  I've heard many a recollection of kids being told to go and grab a new bar of soap for Grandma - and they knew they had to take the oldest bar first.  This fits well with our discounted pricing policy when you purchase multiple bars.  Our full sized soap bars can be purchased for as little as $3.50.  And yes, they love to be stored in your knicker drawer where they'll scent your smalls beautifully while happily ageing in a nice dry environment.

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