How Long Will My Handmade Soap Last?

A frequent question I am asked at craft shows is, “How long will this soap last compared to what I buy in the store”?  The answer is, “it depends”.  There are several factors that will affect the life of a bar of soap.  This blog post will discuss the things that affect the longevity of handmade soap.

First, it is important to note that most commercially produced soap has additives that make the soap harder and longer lasting.  The problem is that commercially produced soap is made with inexpensive oils, and much of the glycerin is removed because manufacturers make more profit by selling it separately.  Then, less expensive moisturizers are added to the soap, and other hardening agents are added to make a hard and long lasting bar of soap.  The soap will be long lasting and will most likely dry out your skin.

Enter handmade soap.  What makes it different is the lack of unnecessary additives or chemicals.  The independent soaper can add oils like Evening primrose, Rosehip, Jojoba, Shea, and other oils that that provide anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant, and skin firming properties, but are not as cost effective.  They are, however, much better for your skin and will not remove moisture.  And, handmade soap has naturally occurring glycerin, which draws moisture into your skin.

But, I digress.  Most handmade recipes produce a hard bar of soap that should be long lasting, and compete with commercial soaps.  However, there are several things the soaper and you can do to make the soap last even longer.  Here is what you should know:

  • The more liquid oils the soap contains, the softer the bar. Most soaps contain a mixture of solid and liquid oils.  Solid oils and butters like Coconut oil, Palm oil, Animal fat, Cocoa butter or Kokum butter help to make a hard bar of soap.  A higher volume of liquid oils like Olive, Sunflower, or Canola typically make a softer bar of soap.  The exception to this rule is Castile soap, which is made almost entirely of Olive oil, and is a very hard bar of soap.  A hard bar of soap should contain slightly more solid oils than liquid oils.
  • Use of sodium lactate in soap making will produce a harder bar of soap that releases more quickly from the mold. Sodium lactate is a liquid salt that can be added to cooled lye water in order to speed up unmolding Using sodium lactate produces harder, longer-lasting bars of cold process soap. Derived from the natural fermentation of sugars found in corn and beets, sodium lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid.  An added benefit of sodium lactate is that it moisturizes the skin by helping to draw moisture into the skin.
  • Use of a loofah or mesh scrubby sponge when showering will help the soap last longer. While some soaps, like salt soap or soaps that contain exfoliating additives, are most effective when used directly on the skin, most soap will last longer when used with a scrunchy.  You use less soap to get the same amount of lather.
  • Using a soap dish or rest that allows the soap to dry out between uses will help soap to last longer. Soap that stays wet or sits in moisture will break down, soften and have a shorter life.  Keeping the soap dry when not in use will improve its life.
  • And, of course, the more frequently the soap is used, the shorter life it will have. This is true of any soap – the more you use it, the more quickly it is gone.
  • Longer cure time improves soap life. Newly made soap should sit for 4-6 weeks to cure and dry.  This creates a harder bar of soap that has less water volume.  Even hot process soap, which technically can be used immediately without a long cure time benefits from drying for 1-2 weeks before use.  This allows it to harden ever further.

So, to get the most life from handmade soap, purchase soap that is hard and contains both solid and liquid oils (oils should be listed on the label), use a scrunchy when you shower, and keep the soap dry between uses.  Your handmade soap should then last at least as long, and possibly longer, than most commercial soaps, and your skin will be much happier!

New Products, Seasonal, Soaps

Our New Fall Soap Offerings

First, for the football fan, and because we are huge OSU fans, we have created “Buckeye” soap. There are 3 different styles, all colored in scarlet and gray, and each having a distinctive scent. No, there is not a peanut butter scent, but all are still pleasant and inviting.

Pumpkins are synonymous with fall! For the pumpkin lover, we have created a lovely new soap. Pumpkin spice soap is scented with a blend of pumpkin soufflé and cinnamon leaf oils. It will make your shower smell heavenly, and distinctively autumn.

Garden mint soap is a new addition for fall. It is created with a tea made with fresh garden mint, and the scent is enhanced with a blend of peppermint and spearmint essential oils. Mint has many skin benefits, including strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It may help relieve skin irritations. Mint also contains salicylic acid, which helps prevent acne, and Vitamin A, which controls oil secretion in the skin. French green clay is added to the soap, creating the soft green color and adding extra oil absorption properties to the soap. Clay also provides gentle exfoliation. This soap will make the entire bath smell fresh and clean.

Old Bay is our newest male soap offering. It is a blend of tobacco and bay scents; the scent and color (from red sandalwood powder) are very attractive.


Seasonal Christmas Soap Products

Introducing our seasonal Christmas soaps!  We have 3 new, fun soaps for your Christmas giving.  Our Christmas themed soaps are the Christmas soap, Cool Yule, and Chocolate Mint soaps.

Christmas soap is a layered soap of Christmas red and green, with a Christmas fir scent.  Ingredients include a skin loving blend of Coconut Oil, Distilled Water, Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Hemp Oil, Shea Butter, Chrome Green Oxide, Burgundy Oxide, Titanium Dioxide Pigment, Fragrance Oils.

Cool Yule is a fun, peppermint scented soap with red and white imbeds in the center.  Ingredients include Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin (kosher, of vegetable origin), Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol (moisturizer), Propylene Glycol (of vegetable origin), Sorbitan oleate (emulsifier), Oat protein (conditioner), Titanium Dioxide
(mineral whitener used in opaque soaps), Essential Oil, jojoba beads, Bis(Glycidoxyphenyl)propane / Bisaminomethylnorbornane copolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide, Yellow 10, Red 28, Red 22, Iron Oxides.  The refreshing peppermint scent is a morning wake-up call!

Chocolate mint is a layered soap reminiscent of the beloved candy!  It has a delightful rich mint chocolate scent.  It is a smaller bar of soap, perfect for gifting or placing in a guest bathroom.  Ingredients include Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin (kosher, of vegetable origin), Water, Sodium Hydroxide , Sorbitol (moisturizer), Propylene Glycol (of vegetable origin), Sorbitan oleate , Oat Protein , Fragrance
Oil, Vanilla Stabilizer, Titanium Dioxide, Isopropyl alcohol.

Any of these soaps would be great for a gift exchange, or as an addition to a Christmas gift basket or teacher gift


Seasonal Fall Soap Creations


Introducing our fall offerings of soap products.  The Fall shimmer soap is a soap that has been in our product line but we are featuring it as a seasonal offering.  It is a layered soap full of fall colors and with a unique fun shape.  New fall soap offerings include the Espresso and Honey Ale soaps.

Fall Shimmer Soap
Fall Shimmer Soap

Imagine starting your day off with a shower featuring the scent of your favorite Cup O Joe!  Espresso soap is made with black coffee instead of distilled water, coffee grounds for gently exfoliation, coffee butter for skin loving moisture, and espresso scenting oil with a delightful coffee scent.   Ingredients include Brewed coffee, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Sodium hydroxide, Coffee butter, Coffee grounds, and espresso fragrance oil.


Honey Ale soap is a swirl of fall colors and a mixture of skin loving and lathering oils.  Ingredients include Distilled water, Olive oil, Palm oil, Coconut oil, Sunflower seed oil, Sodium hydroxide, Castor oil, Honey ale fragrance oil, titanium dioxide, yellow oxide, brown oxide, and merlot sparkle mica.


We invite you to try one of our fun fall soaps!

Ingredients, Lotions, Soaps

Why Is Handmade Soap and Lotion More Expensive Than What I Can Buy In The Store?

Purchasing handmade soap or lotion can seem like an extravagant expense, compared to their cost in the grocery store.  However, there are some very significant differences in the quality of commercial versus handmade soaps and lotions.  This blog post will attempt to explain some of those differences.

First, handcrafted soap is made in small batches by an artisan soap maker.  Handmade soap is a combination of science and art, and can come in a variety of shapes, colors, scents and sizes.  The artisan soap-maker can add specialty oils, healing herbs and spices, and other skin-loving products, that are rarely replicated in store-bought soaps.  Glycerin is present in soap as a by-product of the soap-making process, and draws moisture into the skin, keeping it soft.  However, because glycerin is valuable as a product by itself, commercial manufacturers of soaps remove the glycerin from the soap and sell it. The glycerin is replaced by detergents, which remove moisture from skin, drying it out.  While detergents suds well, and will clean the skin, the skin feel of commercial soap versus handmade soap is significant.   Handmade soaps have different amounts of suds and bubbles, depending on the type and amounts of oils used in the soap-making process.  The qualities you want in the finished bar will guide the choice of oils in the soap.  Some offer large bubbles, some offer creamy texture, and some create a hard and long-lasting bar of soap.  The art of soap-making is creating a combination of oils and fats to provide the texture and qualities you desire.  The benefit of small batch soap-making by an artisan allows for creation of  combinations that address different skin needs and include more decadent and expensive oils not often used in commercial soap products.

Commercial lotion products, while they contain many skin-loving oils, also contain high levels of alcohols, which in turn dry out skin, causing you to need even more lotion!  Handmade lotions and balms do not contain these alcohols.  Handmade products include skin-loving oils and ingredients that will not draw moisture from the skin, and have soothing and emollient properties.  The skin feel using handmade lotions is so different from commercial lotions that once you use a handmade product you will be reluctant to again use commercial products.

Though handmade products may initially seem decadent and costly, once you feel the difference in your skin, it will seem a small price to pay.  Indeed, you will find it difficult to return to the commercial soaps and lotions you have used in the past!




What Are Those Ingredients In My Soap?

Handcrafted soap has 3 basic ingredients – Oils, Water, and Lye.  It is the chemical reaction between the 3 that produces soap.  Other ingredients can be added to color, scent, or provide additional benefits to the soap.  This blog post will describe the ingredients in soap, and compare them with ingredients in commercial soaps.

Handmade soap ingredients:

  • Common Oils – common soapmaking oils include Coconut oil, Olive oil, Palm oil, Sunflower oil, Castor oil, Safflower oil, and Canola oil.  Each oil provides different benefits to the soap – better bubbles, harder bar, skin conditioning.  The combination of oils is determined by the end product desired, as different oils provide different benefits.
  • Specialty oils – Avocado oil (wonderful emollient, great for mature skin), Grapeseed oil (rich in linoleic acid, for a mild soap that conditions the skin), Sweet almond oil (non-greasy oil good for a variety of skin types, and helps the skin to retain moisture), jojoba oil (one of the most expensive oils, but one of the best to enhance moisture in the skin because it is most like the natural oil in your skin), cocoa butter (lays down a protective layer on the skin to hold moisture in the skin), shea butter (a good moisturizer, which has a high percentage of unsaponifables, so it survives the chemical reactions of soapmaking and is left in its original state within the bar of soap.  Reported that is protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun and helps heal scars), and mango butter (highly prized oil to moisturize skin, and like shea butter has a high percentage of unsaponifables, and is used to protect skin from harmful sun effects and heal scars).
  • Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – Lye is a strong and caustic base, which must be handled carefully because it can burn the skin.  It is a necessary ingredient in soapmaking, as it creates a chemical reaction with the oils and water, to make soap.  Lye becomes neutralized during the saponification (soap creating) process and is no longer caustic after the soap cures, which takes 4-6 weeks.
  • Water – distilled water is used in soapmaking, because it is water that has had the impurities removed through distillation.  Water also evaporates out of the soap as it cures, creating a hard bar of soap
  • Glycerin – glycerin is a humectant, which means that it draws moisture into the skin.  It is a natural byproduct of soapmaking.  Commercial manufacturers remove the glycerin for use in their more profitable lotions and creams, but handcrafted soap retains glycerin in each and every bar
  • Exfoliants – one of the benefits of handmade soap is that a variety of ingredients can be added to exfoliate, or scrub the skin to remove dead and dry skin.  Common natural exfoliants are Cinnamon, Cornmeal, lavender, lemongrass, tea, coffee grounds, pumice, oats, seeds (poppy, grape, berry), walnut shells, loofah, orange peel
  • Colorants – Colorants for soap can be natural or artificial.  Natural colorants include herbs, spices, flowers, clays, spirulina, charcoal or cocoa.  However, the range of colors from natural ingredients is limited, so many soapmakers use synthetic colors made from minerals, oxide pigments, micas, or dyes in order to create brighter colors
  • Scents – Soap can be scented with natural essential oils, or artificial fragrance oils.  Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted from plant leaves, flowers or berries.  Artificial fragrance oils are generally less expensive than essential oils, but if cosmetic grade can be safely used in soaps and skin care products.

Commercial soap ingredients (I used Dove sensitive skin unscented beauty bar as an example):

  • Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate – Used as an emulsifier (helps oils and water to mix together) in soap, as it is less expensive that using natural oils and glycerin as emulsifiers.  This soap ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin (aside from cleaning it), and may dry it out.
  • Stearic Acid – Used as a hardener in soap.  It may cause sensitivities in people with allergies
  • Sodium Tallowate – Used for cleansing.  This inexpensive and readily available soap ingredient cleanses and moisturizes your skin, and is used as a substitute for more expensive natural oils
  • Sodium Palmitate – Used for cleansing and creating lather.  This soap ingredient cleanses your skin, but may dry it out.
  • Lauric Acid – It is a surfactant and cleansing agent.  Lauric Acid occurs naturally in some vegetable oils like palm oil.  It is used to cleanse the skin.
  • Sodium Isethionate – Generally used as a surfactant (detergent).  This ingredient is mild on the skin and non-drying.  It produces a lot of dense lather.
  • Water
  • Sodium Stearate – The Stearate salts are generally used for their lubricating properties.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Used as a surfactant (detergent).  This is generally regarded as one of the more gentle surfactants
  • Sodium Cocoate – This is a gentle surfactant, or a detergent.  This ingredient cleanses your skin
  • Sodium Palm Kernelate – This is a gentle surfactant (detergent).  This ingredient cleanses your skin
  • Sodium Chloride – Used as a thickening agent.  Sodium Chloride is the same as ordinary table salt
  • Tetrasodium EDTA – Used as a preservative.  This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin.  True soaps, made from oil, lye and water, don’t generally require preservatives
  • Maltol – Used as a flavoring agent.  This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. It might be used as a fragrance, but maybe not considering Dove claims this bar to be unscented.
  • Titanium Dioxide – Used as a natural whitening agent.  Titanium Dioxide is thought to have no negative side effects when used externally.

Just as in my food, I would prefer to use substances I can pronounce, and that have definite beneficial qualities for my body.  Do your own comparison with handmade and commercial soaps, and see the difference in how your skin feels!