While researching for this article we came across the term ‘Glycerine Dew’. You’ve got to love the positive spin - “that’s not sweat, it’s glycerine dew”!! While you’ll be educated on the benefits of glycerine by the time you finish this article we understand that a prospective customer might not recognise the wet stuff as highly desirable glycerine dew, so we need to explore some solutions.
For the record, soap doesn’t sweat. What’s happening is that the natural glycerine which comes from the gorgeous oils and butters used to make our soap, attracts moisture from the air in times of high humidity. During periods of low humidity soap actually loses water and is dry to the touch. It all comes down to humidity (moisture in the air).
While sweating soap might seem like an annoyance, it’s worth keeping in mind that the very same glycerine in the soap bar is a humectant, helping to keep skin hydrated. (And also worth noting here that commercially produced soap has had its glycerine removed, so while it doesn’t really sweat it also helps explain why commercial soap can make your skin feel dry and itchy).
With 2021/2022 being one of the rare times when we have experienced back to back La Nina events we know all about higher than average humidity. Sadly, many households are dealing with bigger problems like mould on surfaces that have never had the problem before. It’s fair to say that the lack of time between rain events for surfaces to dry out is far worse than usual.
So, we’ve established that the natural glycerine in handmade soap attracts moisture from the air. What else might contribute to the ‘wet soap’ phenomena? Who hasn’t experienced clumping salt in humid environments? Salt is hygroscopic - meaning it absorbs water from the air readily. So, naturally soap bars that contain salt are definitely going to feel wet to touch during wet or humid weather.
It’s no surprise that at Washpool we experience very few problems with humidity, as our district is favoured by stonefruit and winegrowers for that very reason. We understand however, that many people do contend with high humidity and both customers and retailers have asked us what to do about moisture problems, so here’s a simple run down of options.
- Immediately upon noticing the sweating you can wipe the watery substance away from the soap with a paper towel or similar. The soap itself is not damaged in any way and will dry out again when the air dries. This is the time to ensure that your remaining supply is protected from the ambient moisture.
- When not in use, place your soap in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry cupboard or space. Traditionally soap is cured open to the air and in dry conditions this is what we’d also recommend but at times of high humidity we need to stop moisture build up so a sealed container is the best option.
- When using your soap, ensure you use a soap riser to lift your soap out of water and keep away from moisture to dry out during the day. We do our bit by ensuring your bars are formulated for hardness and longevity, so simple strategies like ensuring good drainage mean you’ll get great value from your Washpool bars.
If you are a retailer with a physical store (during humid weather only)
- In air conditioned spaces humidity is usually low enough that no problems are encountered, however, we’re aware of certain circumstances where air conditioning may not be practical or desired. One client in the lush high rainfall zone of Northern NSW falls into this category and they also chose to retail soap bars that contain salt. Their solution is to display the bars bare in a large biscuit style jar, which looks absolutely gorgeous, while keeping the bars nice and dry. (This method also retains the scent so customers lifting the lid enjoy an amazing sensory experience). We’re happy to supply the labels separately so they can be applied quickly and easily at the point of sale if desired.
- Another option is to leave one bare bar out for customers to smell but have the remainder of stock beautifully wrapped in waxed, moisture resistant paper with a belly band (just ask us when ordering for this to be arranged).
Please feel free to call or email our team if you have any future questions, as we are here to assist you and ensure your experience is positive.
Melissa and the Washpool team.