You've purchased the perfect bar of handmade soap. So how do you make it last? Here are my favorite tips and tricks.
Keep it dry.
Nothing will turn a fabulous bar of soap to mush faster than leaving it to sit in a puddle of water. I recommend removing your soap from the shower altogether once you are done washing. Keep it in a place where it can dry as much as possible. My favorite container is a simple draining soap dish, similar to this one. Etsy has some lovely wooden dishes as well, this is one of my favorites. What you are looking for is a dish that provides as much air circulation to the soap as possible, with a balance between having enough points of contact to support the bar without covering up too much of the surface area on the bottom.
Along with using an appropriate dish, try to minimize the amount of water actually running on the bar. Don't leave it on a shelf with the shower stream beating directly on it. I actually keep my soap dish right outside the shower, so when I am done using it I just crack the door open and set my bar down.
And finally, don't share your soap. I don't say this because I want you to be greedy, but because it helps to keep your soap dry. Why? Because if you take a shower once per day, that leaves your soap nearly 24 hours of drying time before it gets wet again. But if you take a shower and then a few hours later someone else takes a shower with the same bar, then that amount of time will be greatly reduced. Besides, with so many soaps to choose from everyone will want their own special bar anyway!
Hands off the soap!
Seriously, your hands are designed to do amazing things, but making lather isn't one of them. We remove a lot more soap than we need to when we use our hands to make suds. Switch to a bath pouf or washcloth, and you will be adding time to your soap's life span. Bath poufs are specifically made to create massive amounts of bubbles without using a lot of product. They are what I like to use, and they can be preferable when using soaps that have ingredients that could discolor a washcloth (I'm looking at you, activated charcoal...) or soaps that are very hard, such as beeswax soaps. Washcloths are best for softer, creamy soaps and soaps that are light in color.
Choose wisely, my friend.
If you want your soap to last, then you want a bar that is hard from the get go. That means, first off, that it should be properly cured. My soaps are all cured for a minimum of 6 weeks, and for the vast majority of handmade soaps that is what you are looking for. Castile (1oo% olive oil) soaps need to be cured for 6 months to a year. "Bastile" (60% olive oil or more) soaps are best after 3 months or so. So before you take that soap for a bath, find out how long it has been cured. Not long enough? Simply unwrap the bar, and place it in a location with dry airflow until the time is right.
The second thing to consider is the ingredients. Soaps which are made with a high percentage of liquid oils will end up being softer than a soap made with oils and butters that are solid at room temperature. Ingredients are listed in order on the label by weight, so you want those hard oils (coconut, palm, and various butters) to be near the top of the list compared to the liquid oils (sunflower, canola, safflower, avocado, etc.) The only exception to this rule is olive oil. A properly cured bastile or castile soap is usually quite hard and long lasting. If you want an even firmer bar, look for those with added beeswax. Beeswax makes for a very hard bar that can feel almost glassy.
Harder bars can be more difficult to lather, so use that bath pouf!
Go for 2.
Don't buy two bars (unless you want to!), just cut your bar into two halves. In theory, this will prolong the life of your soap because while you are using one half, the other half will be staying perfectly dry and continuing to cure. I haven't tried this myself, because I just can bring myself to cut up a beautiful bar! But if you've got the gumption to whack one in half, then go for it. Just don't hurt yourself using that big knife, ok? Buy a soap cutter, or use a pastry scraper if you have to.
Use every last scrap.
We've all been there -- trying to use that last tiny sliver of soap and looking like a fool in the process. Save yourself the hassle, and put those scraps in a soap saver bag like this. These bags can be used to collect those scraps and bits, and then it is used in the same way that you would use a bath pouf. Don't like the plastic? Etsy has cute bags made from terrycloth fabric, felt, or wool. This one is my favorite.
Well, there you have it. Do you have any tips for making your soap last? Let us know!