Ask the Soap CoachDear Soap Coach: I make soap at home for gifts and to sell sometimes. I store my soap in plastic containers. I opened a couple of the plastic bins that have been closed for months and the fragrance was awful!! I think it’s the way I store it. I don’t have much room so I like the stack-able plastic bins. Do you have any suggestions?? I make CP soap with olive oil and shea butter. It comes to trace nicely and smells great right then, but a bunch of my batches, different batches, don’t have a fragrance anymore or they smell like they have gone bad. But, I have to be honest, I must be doing something wrong, because I can never get any of my frangrances to stay. Here is my recipe: 6.4 oz Castor Oil, 19.2 Coconut Oil, 25.6 Olive Oil, 12.8 Shea Butter, approximately 18 to 20 oz of distilled water, Lye about 8.8 Oz and fragrance to taste. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much – Deb

Yuck! That Soap Stinks

Deb, thanks for allowing me to share my responses to you with others so that they may learn as well. There are a few things that immediately come to mind as I look at your question. I have outlined them below:

1. Usage of Shea Butter in Soap Recipe – We all know how awesome shea butter is as a moisturizer for the skin. Even though it is awesome it does have a high percentage of unsaponifiables. So what does that mean for a soapmaker. As a soapmaker we want to provide a quality moisturizing bar of soap. Unsaponifiable means that the fatty acids don’t convert to soap. This free oil is great as you soap bar will not be drying to the user. However you don’t want to over superfat. By over superfatting the extra excess oils are lingering around and sooner or later they may pop up as the dreaded orange spots. Since they are oil and not soap they will make your bar of soaps not smell as fresh as when you first made them as they are going rancid.

Dreaded Orange SpotsIf you want to use shea butter in your recipe I recommend that you don’t use no more than 1 – 2 ounces in a 4 pound recipe. Replace the extra shea butter with other soapmaking oils such as coconut oil or olive oil but be sure to run you recipe through a reliable lye calculator so you know how much lye to use. So that you do have a moisturizing bar of soap you can safely discount the lye used between 5-8%. Most soapmakers lean toward the 5% but don’t go over 8% or the soaps will go rancid faster.

2. Using enough Fragrance/Essential Oils – Not all fragrances are created equal but a general rule of thumb is for every pound of soap use 1 ounce of fragrance oils or 1/2 ounce if using essential oils. This will ensure that you have enough scent in your soap that will last after saponification. You may have to adjust the usage per pound based on the supplier. If you are ever unsure of how much fragrance you can safely use your supplier should be apply to provide you with a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). This is information from the manufacturer on how to properly use the ingredient and will include maximum usage rates in various applications. This will ensure that you are safely using the ingredient in producing your consumer product.

3. Properly Ventilate your Soaps – Cold process soaps unlike melt and pour soaps need ventilation. You should protect them from humidity and dust but they do need exposure to the air so that any of the water content used to make the soap evaporates. A better option to keeping your soaps when space may be an issue is recycling shoe boxes. Put a couple of holes in the boxes so air can circulate around the soap and then you still can stack the boxes on top of each other.

I wish you the best Deb. Let us know how your soaps come out now that you have these tips to consider when you make your next batch of soaps.

Do you have any other suggestions for Deb? Please comment below with your recommendations.  We all can learn from each other.

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Resources
MMS Lye Calculator