Augh! What’s THAT All Over My Soap?!

Does your soap look like it has weepy tears of water on it sometimes? Does it form a crystalline structure after a few days, making your soap look powdery and matte? Imagine my surprise when I found my own personal weeping Papal icon! My brother in law is a Monk for the Vatican. I’ve been planning a special soap for his next visit here. It’s all in good fun and very tongue in cheek but when it started weeping, it did make me pause. Luckily, the phenomenon is not any sort of warning from “on high” but instead, is a common soap reaction referred to as “Glycerin Dew.”

Melt and Pour soap has extra glycerin added to it during the manufacturing process. Some bases have (supposedly) up to 20% glycerin in them – that’s a lot of glycerin! The good thing about glycerin is that it is a humectant – this means that the glycerin moisturizes by drawing water into itself. The theory is that when you wash with glycerin soap is that there will be a thin layer of glycerin left behind, which will then draw moisture from the air, onto your skin (thus moisturizing your skin). That’s the selling point of glycerin soap.

When the melt and pour soap sits out on the counter, the glycerin in the soap will draw the moisture out of the air, and onto the soap. If you live in a humid environment, or have your soapmaking room near the bathroom, you’ll find that your melt and pour soap always wants to ‘sweat’ or get ‘glycerin dew.’

Some ways to deal with this and prevent it are:

* Make yourself a drying container. Get an airtight container and put silica beads (silica comes in vitamins, or new shoes) into the airtight container. Then, place your soap in the container for up to 2 hours, checking on the soap every 30 minutes. This will keep your soap drier on the outside. Don’t leave the soap in the drying container too long however, or else you will find yourself with a shrunken, unattractive bar of soap because all the moisture will be sucked out of it!

* Buy a dehumidifier and use it in your soaping room. Ideally, the soaping room should be as airtight as possible for this option to work. While it is a fairly expensive way to go, it does work and it gives you the freedom to make larger batches of soap without fear of glycerin dew.

* Run a fan over the soap continually after the soap is popped out of the molds. This may not work in some more humid environments but it works in some less extreme cases so try it with some smaller batches before you go crazy with this way of dealing with soap sweat.

*The Number One Most Important Tip to Preventing Glycerin Dew? Make sure you do not put your soap in the freezer or refrigerator after making it. Let it harden in a normal, room temperature.

There are other things that could be contributing to soap sweat (boiling the soap, freezing the soap etc…) but the most common culprit is excess humidity. Good luck!

 

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17 Comments

  1. Pajama Mama says

    Very informative post. I don’t have a lot of glycerin dew on goat milk or shea mp….but on clear glycerin, it can happen some.

    Did I see Pope soap?

  2. The Crazy, Crafty Chick says

    Great tips! I learned the hard way not to put MP soap in the freezer-my soaps were so slippery from the glycerin dew that they never fully recovered.

  3. evermoresoap says

    I live in the desert so its not usually a problem unless I freeze it after I mold it. Then I just wipe it away and that seems to take care of the problem.

    The up-close pic looks really cool!

  4. Brigette says

    I had this happen recently and I did not know what it was. I thought it was a bad batch of soap. Now I know. Thanks so much for the info.

  5. amanda says

    I’ve had very superfatted soaps do that too … but that goo is great for shaving your legs with!

  6. Heavenly Scent Soaps says

    Hi:

    Thanks for the tips! I have had really good luck with your No/Low Sweat M&P base.

    But, a couple of weeks ago, I was at an outdoor craft sale and didn’t have a tent (BAD IDEA). Some of my Melt & Pour soaps started to sweat and also (something I’d never seen before) several of my pink soaps turned completely white after being exposed to the direct sunlight!

    I learned my lesson about not having my products under a covered area at outdoor craft sales!!

    Kind Regards,
    Erin

  7. JudithAnn says

    Thank you, Anne-Marie! This was a very timely article for me! I have to make 300 red hats and 300 purple purses for a Red Hat Ladies convention, I live on an island (quite humid), and was trying to use the freezer method to hasten and facilitate the releasing of the soaps. I had the same problem! Thanks, again for the article.

  8. Anne-Marie says

    Erin, FD&C colors can be non-light stable and fade in the sun. It is quite a surprise when it happens though, isn’t it? You can get a “sunscreen” for your soap but it is one added step that isn’t failproof.

    Crazy, Crafty, You can usually get away with a little bit of freezer time (10-15 minutes MAX) and speed pop out time up. We do it at Otion with pretty good results but every so often, we leave it in too long or boil the soap and then poof! wet slippery soap. =)

    Pajama Mama, It *is* a Monk (possibly pope?) soap. Isn’t it a kitschy scream? I found the mold off of E-Bay and it doesn’t work entirely well but it’ll do for the family joke.

  9. Anonymous says

    I’m starting my own shop on etsy.com and I’m going to be making soap. I had the same exact problem only a few days ago. My basement is where I have been storing my finished soap so my sisters wouldn’t get into it but since my basement is very damp all of this crystal stuff formed on my soap.

    This made me super frustrated so now i have a lot of soap sitting on my dinning room table and I’m in the process of wiping off my soaps and trying the other methods that you have. I’m just glad I found this article!

    Thanks so much,
    AmplifyMe shop crew

  10. Anne-Marie says

    AmplifyMe,

    Thanks for poppin’ in with the encouraging word. I am *so thrilled* that this post helped you and your business out. =)

  11. Betty says

    Hi, Anne-Marie! Great post! Thank you for sharing! I have one little tip regarding the glycerin dew: wrap the soap in ceran wrap as soon as you pop it out of the mold. Make sure you cover it all. So far, this has proven to be the best way… at least for me! Good luck!

    Sincerely,
    Betty
    Magic Senses

  12. Rae says

    Funny enough, this happened to me with my first three batches, which I made last month. I couldn’t get the soap to release and a website told me to try the freezer, so I did. My soaps started dewing so I figured it was just condensation since they were colder than the apartment. I let them sit near the stove on some paper towel for a day or two to ‘sweat it out’ and they were just fine. Hm.

    I’ll keep these tips in mind if that doesn’t work so well the second time around.

    (Btw: just started making soap since mothers day, and my mom, step mom, and aunt love the soap! Thanks for making it so easy to start a new hobby that I’m actually having luck with sticking to)

    • says

      It can be a happy medium – do shorter freezer time =)

      I’m so glad that you are enjoying making soap – it is a great hobby to have and you can even turn it into a small business when you find yourself with friends asking, “How can I get more of that soap!?!” =)

  13. Christy says

    So glad I found this page! I am a true outdoor lover, and if the temps are anywhere between 60 and 85 outside I have my windows open. Today however, is a very humid day. I freaked when I went and looked at the soaps I’d made yesterday! Needless to say…windows closed and AC on! lol

    • says

      Good morning, Christy! You can definitely still keep your windows open if you’d like, but just make sure your soaps are kept in a dry area or run under a fan. The best way I’ve found to keep my M&P from having glycerin dew is to wrap them as soon as they have hardened. I hope this helps! :)
      -Becky with Bramble Berry