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Why Does Handmade Soap Have to Cure?

One of the most frequent questions I get as a soapmaker is "Why can't I purchase that soap you just made?" The answer is Cure Time. I want you to be happy with your purchase...and continue to come back to my little soap shop for all of your soaping needs! If I sell fresh soap instead of fully cured soap, you will get a bar that disappears in the shower like an ice cream cone in an Alabama summer! It will also be more gentle on your skin if you wait for the cure. The lather won't be as impressive, nor will it hold up to shipping across the country if the soap isn't cured.

While wet soap is mesmerizingly beautiful, it will burn you! The first step in the process is saponification. That is the chemical reaction that turns fat and caustic lye solution into soap. This process is about 95% complete within 48 hours. The other 5% takes place in the next 4-6 weeks. While soap is safe to use after 48 hours, it truly needs the cure to become the mild, hard, bubbly bar we love to take into the shower!

The second part of the curing process is water evaporation. When excess water evaporates, the soap shrinks slightly, loses weight, and becomes less soluble in water (won't melt away). This results in a harder bar that in addition to performing better, travels better!

Water evaporates, the crystalline structure forms, then the bar is at peak performance! Since the development of the crystalline structure can't be seen, most people tend to discount this important step in the curing process. I'm not going to go into a deep discussion about this here, but in simple terms, a bar of soap is not just a dry solid. It is a mixture of solid particles and liquid particles. Over time, the solid particles contain less of the highly soluble soap crystals and the liquid particles contain more of the highly soluble soap crystals. What this means is that the soap lathers more easily and more abundantly. I don't want you to have to scrub and rub and work to get that fluffy, foamy lather!

When you buy from Sweet Home Soaps, you can be sure that you are not getting a fresh, immature bar of soap. Your soap has cured a minimum of 4 weeks, but most often much longer than that (because let's face it, I have a LOT of soap!) So head on over to the catalog and take a look around!

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