One common issue among soapmakers is soda ash, which happens during the initial saponification process and sometimes, throughout the curing period. Soda Ash is caused primarily by any free sodium in sodium hydroxide interacting with oxygen, various fragrance constituents, and even heat, which forms sodium carbonate on the surface of the soap as it comes in contact with the air.
Soda ash isn’t harmful in finished soap, and is purely a cosmetic/aesthetic issue.
Minimizing air contact by covering soap in the mold will help to reduce ash, so will spraying the surface of the soap with isopropyl alcohol.
What if covering your molds isn’t an option? Or you’d rather not use additional additives? Or if you tend to get ash during cure? Well, there’s a solution for that! 🙂
Here at Amathia Soapworks, two of our soaps often ash during cure. A quick skinny dip in distilled water (which is already in the soap formula) cleanses away the ash and makes them look bright, shiny, and new. Keep reading for the detailed instructions!
Quick Bite Tutorial: How to Get Rid of Ash on Soap (Plus shining it up!)
- Snag those soda ash covered bars of soap! Get set up by lining up an assembly line, with your ash covered soap on one side, a bowl or bucket with enough distilled water to cover a bar of soap, and a surface to place the fresh dipped soap. I recommend using a microfiber cloth or paper towels that do not have a weave texture. (Weave textures will transfer to the soap, so you really don’t want to use a terry cloth or towel!)
- Slap on a pair of gloves that have smooth fingertips, trust me on this one! If you don’t wear gloves, the oils from your skin will transfer to the soap. After it dries, every bar will be showing off your finger prints. Wear gloves. 😉
- Gently give your soap a bath! Dip it into the distilled water, immediately pull it back out, and shake off the excess water. Don’t let it hang out in the water – in and out, quickly. Cold process soap loves to suck up water, you don’t want to have to cure again, do you?
- Place the fresh dipped soap on your drying surface. If you weren’t quick enough on your dipping, you’ll want to rotate what side the soap is sitting on so it doesn’t get soggy. Your drying surface should not be sopping wet from the soap, just barely damp where the bars are placed.
- If you want to speed up the dry time, hit up the squeaky clean soaps with a heat gun on high. Be careful not to burn yourself or your soap. Keep the heat gun moving and moving!
After the soap has dried, not only will your bars be soda ash free, but they’ll also have a nice sheen on them.
Another cool trick? If you have soap that has scent that is fading, try this method to see if it brings it back. I’ve noticed that after a long cure, some essential oils will seemingly dissipate. Renewing the surface of the soap reveals whether the scent is truly gone!
My favorite thing about using this method is I’m not adding any additional additives to my soap and get to keep my formula the way I love it, plus it’s quick and easy! If you don’t mind heat, you can use steam instead of a quick dip, too. 🙂