Soaps loosing their scent

Discussion started by nav1, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. nav1

    nav1 Active Member 2018 Sabbatical Fail

    Damn it! My Soap Commander 'Courage' is losing its scent. Another artisan soap that has basically lost most of its scent in under two years! I've had so many artisan soaps lose their scent whereas my several year old hard pucks are like their original state! Grrrrrr!!

    There's no rhyme or reason as to which soaps are losing their scent. Basically, any brand is at risk from my experience. I only regard my hard soaps relatively safe from this phenomena.

    I'm extremely pedantic with my soaps. I never bloom any soap, I never take a very wet brush to the soap, I wipe off every last bit of proto lather and even then leave it open to fully dry so I'm very disappointed that yet another soap has lost its scent :(
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
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  2. Monsta_AU

    Monsta_AU ...can I interest you in some vintage blades? Forum Administrator Grand Society

    Admin Post
    Honestly I think this is the main issue here. I otherwise treat my soaps the same and generally do not have any issues. I will bloom when a soap is new for the first couple of times, especially on harder soaps but the Artisan blends we see today are usually relatively soft with a bit of a 'crust' from having the lid off for a week or two during curing (ie evaporate some of the water out of the new soap).

    My 6oz plastic tub of Courage has only had a dozen or so uses and I have not detected any change in the scent of it, however it is a heavier, woody scent with the cedar and other long-lasting notes. I am sure that the citrus notes would have dropped off quite a bit if I was to compare it against a 'newly produced' soap. The Vision tub by comparison has a noticeable degradation of the mint and parts of the aquatic accord, however these are lighter notes. After sniffing @borked's puck of the venerated tmbr about 12 months ago, I was shocked at how little of the scent was left, in part because it was essentially only paper-wrapped and provided no protection from the air.

    I am sure that people far more qualified than I will chime in on this such as @todras but I would say that the issue you are seeing is oxidisation of the scent molecules within the soap, basically because it is exposed to air so much. The lighter, 'top' notes are more reactive molecules and oxidise far quicker than your base notes of a scent. This is part of the reason why citrus scents do not last as long as heavier woods. You are also talking about natural products like EO's, absolutes or concretes, distilled from flowers, plants or animal products and these break down over time. A petrochemically derived fragrance oil will last longer against oxidisation, however that too will eventually break down over time.

    Looking at your tin, I know these do not seal as well as the plastic tubs, but they are also wider and flatter, giving more surface area for oxidisation. As you use it, the concave shape of the soap means that you give it even more surface area. If you dry it right out too, you may find it contracts around the edges and opens that crack on the outside for even more scent to oxidise.

    So what would I say to summarise it? Soaps do not last forever. Even the hard, triple-milled soaps will lose their scent given enough time. While they will generally still be soap and lather, the scent will change over time regardless.
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  3. todras

    todras est Français pour après-rasage Menth Dealer

    It's this exactly. It's all down to oxidation and the volatility of the compounds. I never leave my soaps open, ever. I lather, scrape the lather from the tub and close them immediately, there is absolutely no reason to leave them open unless the soap has been made improperly or you have used excessive and unnecessary quantities of water that remain on the tub.

    People should be aware that shaving soaps or creams are made and warranted to last 12 months maximum from first being opened, in fact in the EU that's why you will see the mandated 12M from open logo on the front of the tubs- an icon of an open tub with a number next to it.
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  4. Drubbing

    Drubbing 110% Smiley-Free

    There is rhyme and reason. Soaps lose scent over time. It's a fact. Pedantry in 'looking after them' and collecting them only highlight this. Back in the day, they weren't meant to smell forever, and people didn't have a cupboard full of them. Soaps are meant to do one thing primarily, scent is something makers in to make them more saleable.

    If it were possible to make a soap whose scent lasted up to 5 years or more, to cater for a niche part of the market that buys them as a hobby, makers would have produced such a product by now.

    That said, my Cella from 2011 still has some scent. But it isn't an 'Artisan' product with fancy delicate new age fragrance oils in it. It has a lot of almond oil and its clearly hard to shift.
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  5. todras

    todras est Français pour après-rasage Menth Dealer

    Yeah, the early 1900's sound like a fascinating time.

    I ensure all my Essential Oils and Absolutes are aligned with the moon cycles and the Solstices, I can confirm most other 'Artisans' do too.

    Thanks for yet another worthwhile contribution.
  6. nav1

    nav1 Active Member 2018 Sabbatical Fail

    Interesting points you bring up.
    Whilst your points make sense in the general thought process, in (my) reality and practice, it's not all that applicable.

    Firstly, I leave all my soaps to dry afterwards. Most people who dry their soaps leave them open until the evening or the next shave (as per forum discussions). I leave mine open for only 2 hours due to wiping off the proto lather, it doesn't need too much time.

    The soap hasn't dried out at the edge, nor is there a gap due to drying out. It's still perfectly formed to the tin around the entire circumference.

    It's very interesting about the top notes and base notes and again, theoretically makes perfect sense...

    But in reality, I've had soaps lose their scent where I expected them to retain it relatively longer due to heavy base notes. I don't post names of the artisans as I don't want to generalize xyz brand is bad because some soaps from the same maker have lost their scent and others are going strong even after 5 years!

    Surprisingly, a soap that is as strong as day one is a citrus/lemongrass. If anything I would have expected this to go quicker...and it gets left out longer to dry as it's softer than the average soap so I give it more time. A heavy lavender from the same soap maker went 100% unscented and I used it up in the bath. And boy was it a beautiful lavender...while it lasted!

    One thing I really want to clarify, is that my post is not against artisan soap makers but more about pointing out a product limitation that can lead to disappointment.

    Paraphrasing Drubbing, these products were not intended to be purchased by the dozens.
    But it's definitely annoying when a soap loses its scent as it basically becomes useless to me.
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  7. nsavage

    nsavage Member

    This is an extremely important point and definitely worth taking note of.

    To add to it further, the majority of quality soaps on the market today have some sort of superfat added to them. These fats, oils and additives are simply added at specific stages of the soap making process in such a manner to ensure that they will not become saponified in any way. Furthermore the chemical composition of these ingredients is not generally or significantly altered during the soap making process. The majority of the ingredients used in the soap making process have a shelf life of some sort, typically this is somewhere between 6 and 36 months with some exceptions and variations. Whilst the onus is on the soap maker to ensure that the ingredients they are using are well inside their life expectancy and that the product they produce can be expected to last at least 12-24 months, it is equally important that the end user is aware that they are not purchasing a product with an infinite life expectancy. Under the right conditions I would expect the majority of artisan made soaps to last at least 3-5 years regardless of whether the ingredients have passed their shelf life or not provided they are properly treated and cared for. I would however also exercise caution in people having any type of expectancy around this.

    This is exactly spot on. As a member of the esteemed and extremely secretive "Artisan Soap Makers Guild" I need to be very careful and am only allowed to make soap on certain days of the lunar cycle and even then only if certain stars and planets align in very specific ways :LOL:.
  8. lerenau

    lerenau a cheeky monkey 2018 Charity Auction Winner

    Nah. If it starts to lose its scent I just spray some Axe Body Spray in it and I'm good to go.

    *for the love of all that is holy, don't do this. I'm being silly.
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  9. Drubbing

    Drubbing 110% Smiley-Free

    The Artisan sarcasm aside, which dips as freely as so much unobtanium oil... I'll say this.

    I have no interest in subjecting products I buy to special treatment. I don't baby brushes, I towel dry them as if they cost $2 and were disposable. I don't pander to soaps. I just use them, put the lids or caps back on and put them away. And my casual observation is efforts to "maintain" stuff seems a waste of time and effort. My brushes show no signs of shedding and some of my soaps and creams still smell.

    My Cella still smells of Cella. I have a TOBS Sandalwood cream of indeterminable age, that still reeks of sandalwood. No, these products don't come with a scent guarantee, and many will dissipate over time like my Harris Marlboro did, and my Tabac has mellowed (another 4yo purchase). Some will hang onto scents a lot more than others. This probably has far more to do with the ingredient make up, than overthinking efforts to make it happen.
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  10. mark123abc0

    mark123abc0 Member 2018 Charity Auction Winner

    I just threw up in my own mouth, I am glad you added the being silly bit.
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