For that test, we tested each bar of soap for weight in grams. Then strung the bars up with grommets and BBQ skewers. Those bars soaked for a full 2 hours before draining for 15 minutes. Then, every bar was reweighed and a mathematical calculation was done to see the % of water each bar absorbed. If the soap absorbed too much water, it was deemed a soft bar of soap that would disappear in the shower. The Soap Guild suggests an absorption rate of 5-15% is average. Some of the bars absorbed up to 45% and still others totally disintegrated.
This process looks easy. It wasn’t. Cutting and weighing and screwing the bars took hours. Hand screwing the hooks in caused some feelings of numbness and carpal tunnel onset.
We had to tongue test every bar for lye bite. It was horrific. Eighty bars of soap tasted terrible. I almost threw up multiple times. We did this in a public restroom with the manager coming in every 25 minutes telling us to leave immediately. It was the ultimate negotiation trying to get her to let us stay in the bathroom. “Please, just another 30 minutes? Under what circumstances could we stay another 30 minutes?”
It is amazing how badly we rated some of the bars for lather and residue. Those same bars scored poorly on the water absorption test as well, absorbing much more than the suggested 5-15% rate. The fact that, scientifically from a water-absorption rate, these bars were poor coincided impressively with our subjective ratings on lather, residue and feeling when using. It showed us that science matched gut instincts, at least with goatsmilk soap.
The winners will be announced tonight. We’re excited. Harriet and I don’t know who wins. We just know what the random # is. After 12 hours of testing, we can’t wait to see who the winner is!
It was pretty funny tasting the soap in the bathroom. I suspect that the bathroom was probably cleaner than any other room in the hotel given how many times it gets cleaned versus other rooms though! =)
it is Soap, how unsanitary can it be?
I would like to hear about all the attributes the winning soap had!
Tongue testing soaps in a public bathroom. Sounds pretty unsanitary
I’ve read that in a book early on in my soaping ventures about the tongue test. I was always too chicken to do it. LOL When I saw the picture of you licking soap I immediately had to laugh. That must have been yummy. LOL Can’t wait to read who the winner was.
Hi Jo –
The tongue tasting is a very old but totally legitimate way for tasting for excess lye in the soap. If the soap is lye heavy, the soap will literally zing and feel like an electrical charge on your tongue. It is a feeling that is unlike anything you’ll be unlucky enough to feel on your tongue again!
Out of 80 bars in the competition, NONE of them were lye heavy. That was a relief for many reasons, not the least of which was the delicate nature of my tongue!
Taste testing soaps, now that’s one I’ve never heard of! That sure sounds like a rigorous judging!!
Fascinating!! Can’t wait to hear the results!
Carrie ~ Gigi says
Are you sure your real name isn’t Lucy? Not that it’s funny :))) all that lye zapping…and the story about the manager coming in every 25 minutes. There is never a dull moment on your blog, that’s why it’s one of the best! Happy judging in Denver!
Joanna Schmidt says
How does one taste for lye? And if you “find” it, isn’t it toxic for yu to be ingesting?
Oh you poor thing! I have never heard of such a thing, judging soaps, but it makes sense! Hope you have a good time, despite the abuse your mouth took!! : )