How long do you let your lye soap cure? - Homesteading Today
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Old 07/13/11, 10:12 AM
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How long do you let your lye soap cure?

I've heard some variances on the time needed to get a soap to 'cure'. Is the lye truly converted at the time of soponification? If so, the soap 'could' be used immediately. Or does it need time to sit before the lye is neutralized? Is the 'cure' time just time in order for the soap to dry out? And, if this is the case, what do you recommend? I've heard everything from a week to a year.

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Old 07/13/11, 12:30 PM
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CP soap does get milder as it cures. I usually let mine cure for about 4 weeks.

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Old 07/13/11, 12:45 PM
 
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Lye remains active for 24 to 48 hours after trace. The additional time is for the extra water to evaporate out. If your soap goes through a good hot gel stage, it is ready to use earlier than if it doesn't. The heat from the gel speeds the Chem reaction up and neutralizes the lye.

For Newbies, soap is generally safe to use about 3 days to a week later, but it will be soft and dissolve a lot faster in water. I cure my soaps for a minimum of 3 weeks in a room with a dehumidifier and fans blowing 24/7. The longer they age, the milder they get because there are still chem reactions going on.

This information is considering that the soap is made properly. Ingredients are weighed up on a digital scale, etc.

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Old 07/13/11, 11:09 PM
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I've used cold processed soap a few days after it was made and I've used some months after it was made and didn't notice a difference. I keep my soap on a wire shower caddy so it does not have water spraying directly on it and it is able to dry out between uses. That ensures that the soap lasts as long as possible. If you have measured your ingredients correctly (using a digital scale, lye calculator etc.) then the saponification process is complete within 48 hours.

That being said, I wouldn't sell soap that has not cured less than four weeks basically because that seems to be the popular time frame that is being used in order to ensure the soap is "safe".

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Old 07/14/11, 04:04 AM
 
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If the soap is "safe" it will be within a week. If the lye is active and zaps longer than that....better take a good hard look at your formula and technique. Somethings not right.
The extra time is needed to evaporate out the extra water. I use a discounted water method, and a dedicated room to dry out my soap. Using a dehumidifier and fans blowing dries them out much faster than normal. I say a minimum of 3 weeks because that is based on my tried and true formula's.

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Old 07/14/11, 09:01 AM
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Cold process soap may be safe to use in twenty four hours after making, but it will continue to get milder and will furnish a much harder and longer-lasting bar if cured for several weeks. It is up to you how soon you want to use it, but I hate to waste my soap by using it before it cures well.
I certainly wouldn't sell CP soap that has been cured less than three or four weeks. You can use hot process soap much sooner though.

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Old 07/14/11, 09:11 AM
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Thanks everyone. That's what I had thought as well. I do a slightly superfatted recipe that I love and have had great results and many return customers with it. But one of my customers (new to homemade soap) questioned me on it. She was quite insistant that any soap with lye in it had to be aged a year before the lye was rendered harmless. Perhaps that would be true if you were making your own lye? Not sure. She bought a bar of soap to try. I guess we'll have to wait and see if she buys another.

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Old 07/14/11, 09:57 AM
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If she only realized what chemicals lurked in a bar of commercial soap.

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Old 07/14/11, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lathermaker View Post
Lye remains active for 24 to 48 hours after trace. The additional time is for the extra water to evaporate out. If your soap goes through a good hot gel stage, it is ready to use earlier than if it doesn't. The heat from the gel speeds the Chem reaction up and neutralizes the lye.
Totally agree with this, especially about the gelling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkintn View Post
I've used cold processed soap a few days after it was made and I've used some months after it was made and didn't notice a difference.
The biggest difference I see in fresh soap and aged soap is it lasts longer and has a larger lather but not a big difference in the mildness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by linn View Post
You can use hot process soap much sooner though.
For me, HP soap takes longer to evaporate the extra water. I'm no expert with HP soaps though and can only go by my own experience. I use full liquid amount for HP soaps and a discounted liquid amount for CP soaps and a good hot gel.

For me, the HP soaps are softer when they come out of the mold than the CP soaps.

Even with using a discounted liquid, I wait a good 4 weeks before labeling my soap for sale.
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  #10  
Old 07/14/11, 02:23 PM
 
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I cure my soap where I can do the pinch test daily. I walk by and give a bar a squeeze in the center, when it doesn't have any give at all its ready.

Last month I pulled out a bar of soap made in 2001, HOLY COW that is one NICE bar of soap, Great lather, lovely scent and has hardly shrunk in the month I've been using it.
I went through my soap notebook and made another batch and I'll be making more next week when my niece comes to visit.

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