The curing process is basically the resting time for a new soap so that water can naturally evaporate from the bars. Commercial soap companies actually force the "cure" by adding chemical hardeners. We can't even imagine what dangers lurk in those chemicals!
We usually hand-cut our soaps out of our handmade wooden molds 24-48 hours after we make the batch. When we hand-cut the soap into bars, the texture is still very soft and pliable and soap at this stage is also still finishing the saponification process, which means that the oils might still be naturally converting to a new compound called soap. Young soap that hasn't cured won’t last very long in running water. As soap cures and the water evaporates, the bar will shrink slightly but it will become very hard. A harder bar of soap means that it will last longer with regular use, lather better, and provide the maximum benefit of the high-quality ingredients that we use. Many soap makers will sell their soap bars after 3-4 weeks, but the Kumbha Moon girlz want you to have the best possible bar of soap from us, so we cure our soaps for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Our Castile soap bars with 70% olive oil need even more time to cure and usually hang out on our curing racks for almost 12 weeks. Right now at home, we are using some plain unscented soap bars that we made almost one year ago and the bar has lasted for weeks in the shower and the lather is still voluminous!
Go where few people have gone...our curing area
You might have noticed from our website updates that we are running low or are temporarily out of some of our soap varieties. Part of the reason for the lag in inventory right now is that we are still so new at the “business side” of making our all-natural soap products that we had no idea how much inventory to prepare for the holiday shopping season. We are still in the learning curve of this whole whacky business thing called Kumbha Moon Soap Company and are fairly novice at predicting the demand for our products for holidays and special occasion gift giving in addition to our regular sales...and we obviously underestimated! We had several customers ask us if we could make a new batch of soap for them to pick up in a day or two and we had to explain the other part of the reason why our inventory was low…the soap curing process. “What? Soap has to cure?” Yes, and the best way we could explain it was to compare the soap curing process to the way a good quality cheese has to age – slowly, carefully, and with great patience!
Handmade soap recipes use a fair amount of water or other liquids to help dissolve the lye and to create fluidity to the batch during the process of making it (believe us, the last thing you want is for a batch of soap to seize…that’s another blog post!). There are often other ingredients in a soap batch that have a water content too, such as pumpkin or carrot puree or goat milk. Experienced soap makers will know how to calculate a recipe and “discount” the amount of water to safe handling amounts. The less water that a batch of soap contains, the faster the bars will cure.
So please be patient with us as we rebuild our inventory and gently tend to our soaps during the curing process. When you purchase a handmade soap bar from us or another soap maker, feel free to ask how long the bar has cured or how old the soap is. The Kumbha Moon girlz are always happy to tell you exactly what you are purchasing, how we made the product, and the values and quality that we have infused each of our products with!
Now that you’ve purchased (or received!) what we think is the best all-natural soap on Earth, we want you to enjoy your Kumbha Moon Soap Company soap bar as long as possible. Our handmade soap bars will last just as long, or longer, than commercial bars of the same size if you take a few extra steps to give it some T.L.C. once you get it home. Here are a few of our suggestions!
Why store it, drain it, and cloth it?
Our soaps do not contain any chemical additives, chemical preservatives, or artificial hardening agents like commercial soaps. When we hand cut soap bars from our wooden molds, they are still quite soft and full of moisture so the bars take about a 2-month rest on our curing racks to naturally air dry and harden. Some bars with a high olive oil content will have to cure as long as 4 months until the bar is hard enough to meet our quality standards. In many ways, the curing process is the most important step in natural soap making since it will establish the longevity of your handmade soap. Your Kumbha Moon Soap Company soap bar will continue to age and harden when exposed to the air (more on that below) and a mature handmade soap bar will last a long time in your shower. Some of our favorite bars with the best lather are over one year old!
It is really important to keep your all natural handmade soap bar in a dry spot where excess water can drain away in between uses. A real handmade soap bar is nearly 1/3 natural glycerin which is a natural by-product of the saponification of the oils and lye. Glycerin is just one of the natural conditioning agents typically found in homemade soaps, but it is also a humectant which means it attracts moisture. If your handmade soap bar is left to sit in water or a goopy soap dish, the bar would eventually absorb the water and begin to break down (that’s the goop in the dish). In fact, most commercial soap companies chemically remove the natural glycerin from their products just for this reason but then infuse their products with more chemicals that act as artificial conditioners. You can be assured that Kumbha Moon Soap Company soap is all natural, chemical- and synthetic-free, and will last a long time if you give it a place to drain during uses.
Our handmade soap bars lather up with big foamy bubbles and we think they lather even more bubbly with a washcloth. A washcloth will also catch any stray larger exfolianting particles that we might have used such as oatmeal or ground herbs and spices. You will still get all of the conditioning and cleansing qualities from your Kumbha Moon Soap Bar through your washcloth and your bar will last longer than directly rubbing it on your body. Give it a try!