The mystique of natural soap bars:
Why is my expensive soap bar shrinking?
Wait! Is my soap bar shrinking before I even used it? Well, when it comes to crafting natural soap bars, there is an intriguing phenomenon that might leave you scratching your head. The soap seems to get lighter the more it ages. While it might seem counterintuitive, this is actually a benefit to you as the transformation and unique chemistry of soap making results in a smaller, lighter but longer lasting and richer soap bar.
So, why exactly do our natural soap bars lose weight and size as they age? Let us dive into the fascinating world of soap making to uncover the magic behind this phenomenon.
Natural soap bars are typically made from a combination of fats or oils and an alkaline solution, often sodium hydroxide (otherwise known as lye). We mix our beautiful soaps with a lye solution made from our legendary camel milk and lye for a superbly gentle soap. Saponification, a chemical reaction then occurs.
The Saponification Process
Saponification is the magical transformation that turns the ingredients into the creamy soap mixture we all love. During this process, the lye molecules (sodium hydroxide) break down the fats and oils into two characteristics, namely glycerine and soap molecules (sodium salts of fatty acids).
The glycerine, a natural humectant, is an amazing moisturizer, while the soap molecules are your refreshing cleansers. Water is formed as a byproduct of the reaction and the soap needs to be aged and dried to obtain sensational perfection.
Ageing the soaps
After the liquid soap mixture is mixed, it is poured into moulds and left to age, in soap-making terms we call this “curing”. The curing process typically can take several weeks to several months, depending on the recipe and desired qualities of the final soap. During this time, several changes occur that affect the weight and size of the bar:
- Water Evaporation: As our soap bars sit in the open air, some of the water from the earlier process begins to evaporate. This loss of water reduces the overall weight of the soap.
- Enhanced Quality: Curing allows our soap to become milder, firmer, and longer lasting. It also gives the soap time to stabilize and reach its optimal pH level, ensuring you get a super gentle and effective cleansing experience.
The Final Product
At the end of the process, what emerges are natural soap bars that have not only lost weight and size but have also transformed into superb cleansers which are longer lasting and richer in fragrance. They are mild, luxurious, and filled with the moisturizing properties of glycerine. This process is further naturally extended, even whilst the bar is sitting on a retail shelf waiting for a new home.
If you’ve ever bought soaps and kept them in your underwear drawer (letting the delightful soap fragrance your clothing), you will notice that the inner packaging is loose on the soap if they’ve been stored awhile. This means a longer lasting, better product for you, albeit a little lighter than when originally packaged.
We label our bars at a set weight. This is the weight the soaps achieve after our standard curing process of 4 weeks, after which we consider them to be ready to go.