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Author Topic: shelf life of homemade soap  (Read 5678 times)
oliveoil
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« on: October 09, 2012, 10:15:01 AM »

Can anyone tell me the shelf life of homemade soap? I am assuming it depends on the ingredients.

I am going to have to take a lot of showers to support my new addiction ( or add on to my house ).  LOL
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nicholray
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2012, 10:29:12 AM »

Yes definitely dependent on the ingredients used in the soap. This might help:

http://www.northcountrymercantile.com/soapmakinglibrary/shelf-life-of-soap-making-oils/
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oliveoil
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2012, 10:45:03 AM »

Thankyou so much nicholray !! That is exactly what I was looking for.

Wow !! The shelf life is much shorter than I thought.

Has anyone had soap go bad? What does it look ( or smell ) like ??

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Studio Olivia
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 10:46:00 AM »

I didn't ask the question, but I will thank you, nicholray.  That is an awesome chart to have.
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nicholray
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 10:59:09 AM »

I haven't had any go bad so far. I keep one bar of each batch to test shelf life. So far so good but my oldest one is about 7 months old so that's not very long. I think it would give you an odd, rancid type smell but I don't know. I would e suspicious if any of my soaps got a weird unpleasant smell while sitting on the shelf.
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barrerlm
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2012, 01:16:23 PM »

 Although the chart is helpful it does not indicate the shelf life of the soap.  The oils go through a chemical reaction to make soap which means that some of their properties change.  I think the only true way to know your soaps shelf life is to do as Nicoleray stated she does is to keep a bar and test it.  The other thing to note is that if you buy your oils in bulk how long did the supplier have it before sending it to you? How long did you keep it before making soap with it?  All of these things may affect your soaps shelf life.  The temperature and humidity of where you keep your soap (environment, storage, packaging, ingredients, process used to make soap) can also affect your shelf life.  To get a definitive answer you would need to do a design of experiments varying all the parameters and I just think it's impractical for a small soap hobby or business.   

So in summary the best thing to do is do as Nicoleray is doing keeping a bar and be sure that it's in the packaging you use to give it to your customers to try and duplicate what they might do.
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oliveoil
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2012, 02:11:35 PM »

Very good advice !!!!  Thankyou !! Kiss 
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ping40
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2012, 07:26:49 PM »

You'll know when a soap turns bad..you get DOS (dreaded orange spots) and it will begin to smell like old oil. I havent had any yet but my friend on Etsy said every time she uses canola it happens to her. I never used that oil so maybe thats why? If your making soaps with any sort of speciality oil "avocado, grapeseed, sunflower etc" just keep that to below 20% and you shouldnt have a problem. Atleast I havent yet...(knocks on wood) but soaps do not last in my house or at my shop longer than a couple weeks . And I agree with barrerlm ...that chart gives shelf life of oils, not soap.
On a good note...if you get to the point where you have too many...consider selling your soaps  Wink
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 07:29:02 PM by ping40 » Logged

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taenia
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 12:11:13 AM »

I will add my experience:

I have started making soap 7 years ago and then I stopped for 5 years. I restarted in apring of 2010 and when I was making some cleanup, I have found a batch of different soaps I have made that 5 years ago....basically mainly coconut, palm and some olive oil. And yes - nothing happened to them, the only difference was they were much harder and it took ages to use them...

In meantime, I have gathered at home soaps that are 1 year old and still OK.

But yes, the shelf life of soap depends directly on the oils used and their oxidation capacity. Yes, they are converted in sodium salts of the fatty acids, but it seems this does not change much the fatty acid properties. They will still be prone to oxidizing and therefore go rancid.

I have personally very bad experience with peanut oil - the soap goes rancid within 3 months.

Also, the presence of metal salts like magnesium or calcium (see K. Dunn: Scientific soapmaking book) in the soap is accelerating their oxidation. I can but confirm - my soap from coconut/palm/olive/sunflower that contained sea salt (that is rich in these ingredients) is the one that went rancid incredibly fast AND almost everywhere. Normally there is one, two dreaded orange spots, but this particular soap is covered with them....
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 06:14:50 AM by taenia » Logged

soap1967
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 04:32:49 AM »

So far I have not had any soap go bad.  I have some that is 2 years old  - very hard.  The scent has really faded.  They don't look very appealing to me. 

I think superfat also comes into play here - obviously the more free floating oil the faster it will go bad. 
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Studio Olivia
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 08:36:56 AM »

Wouldn't is also depend on what SF % you use?  I would think the higher the SF, the shorter the shelf life would be. 

Taenia, 5 years???  WOW!  If only we could keep it fresh and cure it for 5 years, we would all have rock hard soaps...not very frequently returning customers, but really long lasting soaps.   Wink Cheesy
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taenia
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2012, 11:41:44 PM »

Wouldn't is also depend on what SF % you use?  I would think the higher the SF, the shorter the shelf life would be. 
I think that is what soap1967 mentions. It probably also depend on the superfatting. However, again if you have majority of oils in your recipe coconut and palm, it is less of an issue (according to the K. Dunn book, in terms of fatty acids it does not matter whether you add your oil at trace or at the beginning - it is not when you add it, but which fatty acids do saponify easier).

He also recommends to add rosemary extract as the best of all antioxidants for soaps.

Taenia, 5 years???  WOW!  If only we could keep it fresh and cure it for 5 years, we would all have rock hard soaps...not very frequently returning customers, but really long lasting soaps.   Wink Cheesy

Yes, this happened only because I forgot them Smiley But I must say I did not like it to last so long. You get annoyed using the same soap while the new are around you saying "try me!".
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Bindu
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2012, 10:09:16 AM »

Interesting points.
So if a bar contains more than 50% palm coconut oils, SF oil can be added at the beginning and still left unsaponified.

If not SF oil should be added at trace. Am I understanding it right??
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Soapdog
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2012, 05:04:05 PM »

I also have soaps that I made 4 years ago and they are still good, although the scent isn't as strong.  Oddly, I've gotten DOS on 2 batches of high olive oil (over 65%) soaps after 1 or 2 years.  They were unscented to begin with and did not smell rancid at all.  One batch had a low level of ROE added, so and  I am currently testing another high olive batch with a higher level of ROE.  I just made it a few weeks ago so it will be awhile until I get a verdict.  I do stay away from canola oil.
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taenia
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« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2012, 01:46:52 AM »

Interesting points.
So if a bar contains more than 50% palm coconut oils, SF oil can be added at the beginning and still left unsaponified.

If not SF oil should be added at trace. Am I understanding it right??

Actually, Dunn's experiments show that it does not matter at all whether you add your oils in the beginning or at trace. It seems that at trace, there is still a lot of lye not reacted and if you add your oils at trace, some of their fatty acids will react faster with the unreacted lye than other fatty acids that were there from the beginning.
I do not have the book on me to cite exactly, but can have a look this evening, to be more precise...

However, what deduced from this was - trace may matter if you wish other goodies of your oils (unsaponifiables) to survive the alkaline conditions. pretty much like your essential oils etc. Not sure though if this really applies - if for example phytosterols are prone to change under alkaline conditions and if yes, than whether trace is really less alkaline or not .... I bet some water soluble vitamins (e.g. C) might not survive, but not sure if adding them at trace would help anyhow - again because of the question: is trace really less alkaline and if, how much?
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