THAT SOAP'S NOT ROTTEN, IT'S FULL OF MINERALS!
Unlike spots on an old avocado, orange spots on soap should not alarm you. In fact, it should be quite reassuring that they are no more than a natural result of having a mineral-rich bar of soap that has not been treated with artificial preservatives or colorants.
LET ME EXPLAIN...
Orange spots are extremely common and incredibly hard to prevent...I know, I tried. After many years of research, frustration and experimentation, I discovered orange spots were something I would simply have to learn to appreciate.
They are representative of the fact that all things in nature become what they are intended to be, not what we want them to be. I began my search for answers with the goal of mastering the dreaded orange spot. What I came away with was a whole new appreciation for our mission statement: Bringing the POWER OF NATURE into Daily Routine.™
THE JOURNEY TO DISCOVERY
I'll admit, when I came across my first spot, I was devastated. I had been making soap for a while, hadn't had a problem and didn't change my recipe. I just couldn't understand what the heck this was.
So naturally, I went a bit MAD trying to figure out.
And the good news was that they were not caused by the rotting of the soap (like fruit) or by angry gnomes pressing their fingers into our curing soaps while we were asleep (I told you I went a little MAD).
...That gnome still looks like he's up to no good though, doesn't he? ha...
SO HOW DO THEY FORM?
Orange spots can form in handmade soaps for a variety of reasons and would show their faces on a commercially-made bar of soap if preservatives and artificial colorants were not added.
The first reason spots can form is that handmade soaps are typically "superfatted". This is an industry term for adding more oils to the soap than is necessary to actually produce the soap. This leaves free floating oils in the soap that can become rancid over time. This is done as an attempt to make what would be a drying bar of soap more moisturizing. Since tallow is already very moisturizing, we do not superfat our soaps. So we double checked our recipe calculations just to be sure, then moved on, still with no solution.
The second reason spots can develop is because of old or rancid oils. I contacted our suppliers for shelf-life documentation and batch quality reports. Our suppliers are very transparent and extremely reputable and as such, had no problem handing over the proof. My notion was confirmed. The oils we purchase for our products are as fresh as they can be. No oil was over 3 months old according to the supplier's information. That, coupled with the fact that the oils we use all have a shelf life of 1-7 years, proved to us that we were good there too.
Finally, spots can develop on soap because of minerals present in the oils, fats or water used to make the soap. When the lye (sodium hydroxide, a necessary ingredient in handmade soap) blends with minerals during the soap making process, a reaction occurs. The extent of the reaction varies per batch as does the amount of minerals present in the individual ingredients. The reaction can cause spots to develop immediately, as the soap cures over time or never at all. It's simply a toss up when it will happen and when it won't.
....really I'm still suspect about those gnomes...lol...
So, because we only use distilled water which has had the minerals removed, we had to look to our oils and fats. Sure enough, that left us with one possible conclusion.
GRASS FED TALLOW WAS THE CULPRIT
Who knew the same reason why our soaps are so rich and nourishing for the skin, could be the same reason why these spots were racking my brain! Turns out grass fed tallow is so rich in trace minerals and vitamins that using this nutrient-dense ingredient was the make-it-or-break-it reason for the spots.
"Well, there you go" I thought.
Had we all been born in 1836 this would have been common knowledge of course. But we were not and had to relearn this all over again. Once we confirmed this conclusion with a nutritional analysis of grass fed tallow, we only had one thing left to do...
WE GAVE UP!
While we tried everything to eliminate minerals from our soaps, in the end we discovered that unless we remove the most important ingredient from our recipe - grass fed tallow - those pesky spots will remain. Since we aren't willing to do that because of the incredible benefits tallow has to offer, we had to accept them.
So, instead of trying to prevent them, mask them or curse them, we chose to embrace them as a badge of honor. A badge that says, "I'm as natural as natural gets, deal with it!"
But honestly, is it really that serious? A spot is a mere appearance flaw. It does not affect the integrity of the product nor the function. And I'm sure you can agree, someone who values a handmade bar of soap isn't yearning for a cookie-cutter, ivory white bar of soap.
PEOPLE WANT REAL SOAP
Part of the attraction to handmade soaps is the purity and unadulterated process that creates such one-of-a-kind pieces. We believe our customers are more concerned with quality and integrity than appearance.
When you buy a bar of soap from us, you are buying a piece of our heart & soul, our time & energy and our passion for bringing the power of nature into daily routine. We can't limit nature's power to what we perceive as perfection. We must embrace all her quirky ways and move on.
So, after years of worrying about our unwelcomed guests, we are proud to say we have moved on and can now focus on more important things like how gnomes get in the house anyway...lol...
Have you ever experienced a time when acceptance was more important than perfection? Please share below.