10-15-2016, 05:49 PM
#1
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Those of us with rather large soap collections, do you ever consider whether the artisan soaps in your collection might possible have a shorter shelf life, than your regular top brand soaps ?

I almost did the switch to shaving soaps, because of my big soap & cream collection, because I expect soaps to last for a very long time, without issues. 

But come to think of it, the artisan soaps are made from natural ingredients, will this effect the shelf life of them ?

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 10-15-2016, 08:39 PM
#2
  • Viking
  • Artisan - Soap & Cosmetics
  • Ames, Iowa
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Claus, I think in general, a saponified product is a saponified product - meaning it will have good shelf life. However, some of the mass produced soaps have small amounts of synthetic detergents in them and occasionally you find a preservative in there too, which would obviously result in greater shelf life.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think that most artisan soaps have a decent 'superfat' percentage to them, meaning oils that aren't saponified, so that may result in a greater potential for spoilage compared to other products. Lots of soaps have superfat in them though, so I can't say for sure how it would affect shaving soaps.

In general, I think the shelf life would be sufficient for most artisan soaps that most would get through them well before it became an issue. I know I've had pucks of soap from my experimental phase many years ago that I came across recently that were still fine (and actually performed pretty well!).

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has experienced spoilage in any soap - although you don't seem to hear about it much.

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 10-15-2016, 09:49 PM
#3
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Claus, I have quite a few Mystic Water pucks that are, now, over five years old and they still look and smell wonderful. The only issue I have noticed is that they have hardened a bit from a loss of water content. Furthermore, they still perform, superbly.

I can get back to you in ten years or so to see how their condition is if things go well. Biggrin

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 10-15-2016, 09:49 PM
#4
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(10-15-2016, 08:39 PM)Viking Wrote: Claus, I think in general, a saponified product is a saponified product - meaning it will have good shelf life. However, some of the mass produced soaps have small amounts of synthetic detergents in them and occasionally you find a preservative in there too, which would obviously result in greater shelf life.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think that most artisan soaps have a decent 'superfat' percentage to them, meaning oils that aren't saponified, so that may result in a greater potential for spoilage compared to other products. Lots of soaps have superfat in them though, so I can't say for sure how it would affect shaving soaps.

In general, I think the shelf life would be sufficient for most artisan soaps that most would get through them well before it became an issue. I know I've had pucks of soap from my experimental phase many years ago that I came across recently that were still fine (and actually performed pretty well!).

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has experienced spoilage in any soap - although you don't seem to hear about it much.

Highly interesting reply, Andrew.

Since I mostly buy artisan shaving soaps now, as oppose to prior to 2015, where I almost never bought artisan soaps at all, and my original intention was to focus mainly on soaps for their far better shelf life, than shaving creams, I cross my fingers that my artisan soap collection, closing in on 150 soaps, will give me many years of pleasure and shaving. Should the scents get a bit weaker, it will not bother me at all, I like milder scents in shaving soaps anyway. But should the main part of my big sartisan soap collection start to turn bad or even rancid, I will get tears in my blue eyes  Shocked 

I store my soaps away from damp, heat and light. But I know I'm at risk with my huge soaps and cream collection. I might rotate the same soap/cream 3-4 times a year, some creams I haven't used in years, but they still seem to work great.

I have a feeling my harder soap pucks like DR Harris, TOBS, Czech & Speak, Valobra, AOS Tallow, Klar, MDC, SDM, Tabac, MWF, Haslinger and the likes will last a life time and not turn bad at all.
The question is more if the softer artisan soaps like Tabula Rasa and the older Caties Bubbles, which almost are creams, will start to turn bad.

Time will tell, but I thought it would be interesting to start a thread about it and hear what the users and artisans have to say.
This is what this forum is all about. Some questions are repeated endlessly, some not so often.

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 10-15-2016, 09:51 PM
#5
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(10-15-2016, 09:49 PM)celestino Wrote: Claus, I have quite a few Mystic Water pucks that are, now, over five years old and they still look and smell wonderful. The only issue I have noticed is that they have hardened a bit from a loss of water content. Furthermore, they still perform, superbly.

I can get back to you in ten years or so to see how their condition is if things go well. Biggrin

Look forward to hearing from you again in 10 years time, Celestino.

See you on the forums in the mean time  Wave1  Thumbup

But as I understand MW soaps are rather soft, so definitely quite positive they still seem to hold up fine, this could bring me closer to my 12-16 soaps purchase of MW soaps for Christmas  Clap

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 10-16-2016, 12:38 PM
#6
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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I've had Cella go bad.  Turned brown in places and smelled funny.  Tossed it.
I've had a few artisan soaps begin to partially separate, you can spot these by the small white 'balls' that form in the soaps.

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 10-16-2016, 01:35 PM
#7
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I was involved in a very long thread about this within the past few months.

The consensus seemed to be that soap will last forever unless it has products that will spoil, such as avacado oil.

Since then I've learned more.  If the avacado oil is saponified, it has changed chemically and I don't know if it will spoil at all.

My contribution to the thread was to shave with some soap I have that is between 50 and 100 years old.  It worked fine.  Other people shaved with really old soap and got the same results.

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 10-16-2016, 01:39 PM
#8
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I'm scared of this happening too, hence I dry out my soaps over night after use.

I hope that habit helps, so far so good.

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 10-16-2016, 02:01 PM
#9
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(10-16-2016, 12:38 PM)Mr_Smartepants Wrote: I've had Cella go bad.  Turned brown in places and smelled funny.  Tossed it.
I've had a few artisan soaps begin to partially separate, you can spot these by the small white 'balls' that form in the soaps.

Cella is a mystery to me. Great soap but the scent sends my sense of smell into chaos. I've had the red tubs make me want to gag, and the 1K block was/is sweet and good. For now at least. Also, I've had occasion to get some soap with the little white balls in it, but didn't know why. Now I know!

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 10-16-2016, 03:04 PM
#10
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Here I go again, speaking without approval of my soap maker wife, but I'll try to relay what I've heard being around the business.  Shelf life is kind of the other side of the artisan-saponified soap coin... You get superfatted soap without artificial preservatives, but they won't last forever. The superfat is partly for safety (to make sure you use up all the lye), and partly for skin conditioning (the oils are almost like a lotion). Being unsaponified (i.e., not chemically changed to soap), the oils can go rancid. Some oils have a longer shelf life than others, and some soaps are likely more superfatted than others.  Drying out your soaps and keeping them in a cool place can help them last longer.

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 10-16-2016, 03:39 PM
#11
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Brian's comments make a lot of sense.  A point I forgot to share earlier from the other thread is that if it smells funny or looks funny then throw it out.

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 10-16-2016, 04:42 PM
#12
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(10-16-2016, 12:38 PM)Mr_Smartepants Wrote: I've had Cella go bad.  Turned brown in places and smelled funny.  Tossed it.
I've had a few artisan soaps begin to partially separate, you can spot these by the small white 'balls' that form in the soaps.

Forgot my Red Cella also turned bad after a year, the disturbing part: I never actually used it, I bought a pot of Cella, had it for 1-2 years, then tossed it out. Very sane and quite environmental friendly  Facepalm

I now own the 1 Kg Cella, and have used this 4-5 times, and it performs better than the red Cella (I did try the red Cella - another pot I had)

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 10-16-2016, 05:07 PM
#13
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(10-16-2016, 01:35 PM)Pete123 Wrote: I was involved in a very long thread about this within the past few months.

The consensus seemed to be that soap will last forever unless it has products that will spoil, such as avacado oil.

Since then I've learned more.  If the avacado oil is saponified, it has changed chemically and I don't know if it will spoil at all.

My contribution to the thread was to shave with some soap I have that is between 50 and 100 years old.  It worked fine.  Other people shaved with really old soap and got the same results.


Keep learning! Avocado (not avacado) is a very shelf stable oil and not prone to rancidity as opposed to safflower oil which has a very short shelf life as an example.

Yes, I'm learning to make soap myself. Good times!

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 10-16-2016, 05:16 PM
#14
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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I have 3 - 4 year old Barrister & Mann and Mystic Water that still perform well, and I expect that they will continue to do so for some time. I keep extra pucks of soaps/scents that are no longer in production in airtight containers and in a cool, dark closet.

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 10-16-2016, 05:21 PM
#15
  • Viking
  • Artisan - Soap & Cosmetics
  • Ames, Iowa
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One other thing I'll mention is that even with soaps made with 'super-fatted' oils that are prone to spoilage (at some point) is that even when you have soap with unsaponified oils in it, those oils are well distributed throughout the soap which has a natural pH near 10, which doesn't favor spoilage/microbial growth, so even oils that may spoil easier are going to be somewhat 'protected' by the high pH environment.

Again, probably not something you need to worry that much about. If it's looking suspicious (or smelling bad), toss it. There's always more soap to be had!

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 10-16-2016, 05:26 PM
#16
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Since a few guys now have pointed out, that one of my beloved top soaps are quite sensible when it comes to shelf life, I'm talking about Tabula Rasa - what would you advice to do to prolong the life of my 12 Tabula Rasa pots ?

I keep them dark and cool as it is. I never soak/bloom such soft soaps.

I roate most of my collection, and have several 100 soaps and several 100 creams, so rarely use the same product within the same 5-6 months time (unless I'm doing a test)

Should I store my Tabula Rasa's in the fridge, perhaps ?
Would rather not have them turn bad on me......love these soaps.

Hope they last 5-10 yeasr, but afraid they wont last even a year longer........

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 10-16-2016, 05:28 PM
#17
  • Viking
  • Artisan - Soap & Cosmetics
  • Ames, Iowa
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Sorry - double post.

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 10-16-2016, 05:31 PM
#18
  • Viking
  • Artisan - Soap & Cosmetics
  • Ames, Iowa
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(10-16-2016, 05:28 PM)Viking Wrote:
(10-16-2016, 05:07 PM)LAParker Wrote:
(10-16-2016, 01:35 PM)Pete123 Wrote: I was involved in a very long thread about this within the past few months.

The consensus seemed to be that soap will last forever unless it has products that will spoil, such as avacado oil.

Since then I've learned more.  If the avacado oil is saponified, it has changed chemically and I don't know if it will spoil at all.

My contribution to the thread was to shave with some soap I have that is between 50 and 100 years old.  It worked fine.  Other people shaved with really old soap and got the same results.


Keep learning! Avocado (not avacado) is a very shelf stable oil and not prone to rancidity as opposed to safflower oil which has a very short shelf life as an example.

Yes, I'm learning to make soap myself. Good times!
Pete is right that once saponified, the fatty acids are no longer subject to 'spoilage' in the oil-sense of the word.


Where did you learn that safflower oil has a shorter shelf life than avocado? My understanding is that avocado oil's shelf life is around 1-year after manufacturing (depending on how refined it is) and safflower is generally 1-2 years depending on degree of refinement.

There are a lot of oils that are used in cosmetics that have a short shelf life, specifically grapeseed oil, that's why in things like lotions/aftershave balms, preservatives are almost ALWAYS used to prevent these from spoiling. Soap doesn't have to abide by those rules since it has built in preservatives (saponification and resulting high pH environment) - of course not always the case as soap can spoil eventually but not nearly as fast as lotions.

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 10-17-2016, 03:41 AM
#19
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IF I have soaps that are discontinued, i'll vacuum seal them individually and freeze it. Confirm will last longer than 10 years. With each drop in 10 degrees Celsius, the rate of reaction drops by half. If your ambient temperature averages 15C, storing it at -15C will make your soaps last 8x longer. 

Furthermore the lack of water and oxygen will further reduce the rate of reaction. This method is the extreme end of keeping in a cool, dark & dry place.

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 10-22-2016, 09:23 PM
#20
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(10-16-2016, 12:38 PM)Mr_Smartepants Wrote: I've had Cella go bad.  Turned brown in places and smelled funny.  Tossed it.
I've had a few artisan soaps begin to partially separate, you can spot these by the small white 'balls' that form in the soaps.
Same here, it went bad in under a year for me. But Cella is the only one, aside from that I have creams from 2013 that are dried up but aren't bad or rancid.

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