Posted in Zero Waste

While soap bars have existed for millennia, as early as 2800 BC according to archaeological finds, it might be a new concept to you. Liquid soap has been the norm for many years. But if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, switching from liquid to bar can be an easy and effective.

Liquid soap vs Bar soap

Liquid soap

Liquid soap is convenient, easy to use and often comes in a pretty container with many claims.

Despite its name, liquid soap found on shelves today is actually detergent-based rather than true soap. Detergent may have a negative connotation, but in some cases, detergent-based products are preferred over traditional soap. As I mentioned briefly in our shampoo bar blog post, areas with more pH-sensitive skin often favor detergents due to their lower pH.

But liquid soap is mostly water and often have a very high mark up, with little actual skin benefits. And they tend to come in a plastic bottle. Meaning you are mostly paying for water and plastic, not the soap, and so it the environment.

Bar Soap

The biggest benefits of bar soap these days, is that they can be sold with little to no packaging. There is almost no water in the end product, so we are not just paying for fancy water. Soap made the old way also naturally produces glycerin, a natural humectant, that helps keep skin hydrated.

But of course, bar soap is not perfect either, as it has its own difficulties.

 

How to store soap in use

The most common bar problem we hear about, is how to use and store the soap between use? How to actually wash your hands with bar soap, is a topic I will save for another time. But I will add that if your soap dish is swimming with water, after a single hand wash, you are not doing it correctly.

Bars should preferably dry completely between uses. This will both make them last longer, and not let them turn to mush.

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3 Ways to store your soap between washes

Soap dish

Soap bars don’t have to be stored on a soap dish, but it might improve longevity and look better on the counter.

Choose one that gives our soap some air flow from the bottom, this will help dry it faster. The longer a bar can stand up/on a side the better. I would also advice you to be critical when choosing a soap dish.

In addition to airflow, several other factors are important to consider.

  • The weight of the dish matters more than you might think. At some point, your soap will stick to the dish, and when that happens, you’ll appreciate a dish that stays put on the table rather than being lifted up along with the soap.
  • The material, wood looks beautiful, they can mold if not careful. You might also prefer a dish that is easy to clean, maybe even dishwasher safe.
  • The size. This is not only in relation to the soap but also your counter space. Don’t get one that barely fits, and is about to fall in the sink, you will not find it enjoyable in the long run.
  • The look. Don’t forget to choose something you enjoy looking at every day. While it’s tempting to opt for something fun or different, consider whether you’ll still appreciate it in the long run. Sure, you can always get a new one, but save yourself the trouble and choose something you’ll enjoy for years to come

Magnetic soap holder

Magnetic soap holders are old school, but they are really practical. They’re not always glamorous, but they might just be the best way to store soap, whether it’s in the shower or by the sink. Nowadays you can find some that are quite pretty, and together with a beautiful soap, it can be a real winner. Of course, if you don’t have wall nearby, this might not be the option for you. They are also not the best with harder products, like salt soaps or pressed shampoo bars, as they can crumble more easily.

Soap bag

A soap bag or soap saver bag, is a multi-purpose item. First and foremost, they help you use all your soap up.

When your soap becomes too small to handle, toss the soap piece into the bag. This makes it easier to use up, since you don’t have to care about it breaking, and having to deal with several small pieces. The bags can also help you lather the soap better, giving you a rich foam. Some bags also double as a gently exfoliator/loofa, like our soap saver bag.

Last but not least they help dry the soap, by keeping it off the ground. Most bags have a string attached, so you can hang the bag after use. This is more practical in the shower than the sink. I like to add my small pieces from the sink to the soap bag, and then use them in the shower.

How to store soap long term

Another question you might have is “how should I store the soap I’m not using at the moment?”. Good question. As a soap seller I know people often buy more than one soap the time. So, some bars have to wait their turn.

The best way to store soap is in a dry, temperate location out of direct sun light, and/or a place with good air flow. An empty cardboard box or paper bag in the closet could be a good option.  Just be sure the bars don’t touch each other, especially if you have different scents.

Alternatively, you can place a bar in a fabric bag, like a soap bag, and store it in your closet or sock drawer. This will not only be a great place to store soap, but can also make your closet smell nice.  

However, remember to use your soap within 6 months of purchase or by the best before date, as the scent and texture can change over time.

 

Does soap expire?

Yes and no. When soap is made, it will continue to be soap. But all the “extra” things in your soap can expire. Scent, color and oils can change over time and rarely to the better.

Soap is made from mixing oils with lye water, this process turns the oil, lye and water into soap and glycerin. But since 100% soap will be too drying for the skin, most soap are made with “superfat”. Superfat is excess oil or butters that are left in the bar after saponification. In other words, more oil is added than the lye can react too. This leaves some oil left to nourish your skin when used, but this is also oils that can go bad over time.

If the soap starts to feel sticky, develops orange spots, or smells strange, this is likely the cause. The soap is still usable at this point, but is might not be a pleasant experience. Use at own risk.

So, avoid buying more soap than you can use!

In conclusion:

In short, store your soap in a way that promotes drying, to prevent it from turning to mush. This can be done with either a soap dish, a magnetic soap holder or a soap saver bag.

Soap can expire, so consider how you optimes your long-term soap storage, and only buy what you can use up.

If you have any storage tips or experiences share them in the comments.

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