Don’t like the ash? Steam it off!

Sometimes the wonderful world of chemistry can be frustrating.

I love it when it works its magic to make oils and lye turn into soap. Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

Not so much when the soap ends up with soda ash on the surface. Ash is sodium carbonate, the harmless product of the reaction between sodium hydroxide and air.

It can look nice sometimes. Like on the tops of these bars it looks like frosting.

But I hate when it happens on a soap that I want to be able to see the surface.

Exhibit A:

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

Great swirl, huh? If only it didn’t look like it needed a good dusting. It’s batches like this that I can’t leave well enough alone.

And now I’ve discovered what may be the easiest way to get rid of the ash: steam!

When I first say this on some YouTube videos, it looked like magic. Then I tried it myself. And you know what? It IS magic. I now believe in magic.

All you need is some source of steam. I like to use my kettle because I get a concentrated stream of steam that way. But you could just use a saucepan filled with water.

Or maybe one of these?

7165gcFIa-L._SL1500_

Nifty! Find it on Amazon.

Just take your ashy soap bars, like these

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

These ashy bars are from the same batch of soap, just with different designs on top.

and hold it over the rising steam. Careful! Steam is very hot so protect your fingers.

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

It’s hard to see, but there is some steam coming out of the kettle and steaming the surface of this soap. (And just go ahead and ignore the fact that I’m doing this bare-handed. I live on the edge like that.)

The ash just disappears. It really does! Then it’s just a matter of waiting for the surface to dry.

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

Here’s that one bar after steaming. You can really tell how good it looks compared to the unsteamed on the right.

Gorgeous.

And those swirly bars? Oh, yeah… magic.

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

Sirona Springs Handmade Soap Blog

Do you steam off ash? Or do you use a different technique?

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13 thoughts on “Don’t like the ash? Steam it off!

  1. Beautiful soaps, Ruth! I love those swirls. I find steaming to be the easiest way to get rid of ash, too. It’s especially great for bars with textured tops!

  2. I’ll have to try this with a kettle or the steamer. I tried steaming my soaps once with my Rowenta iron but it didn’t seem to help much. I wonder if it had something to do with the water- I can only use mineral water with it. I have been cleaning my ashy bars by scrubbing with nylon and a little water. Your technique seems easier.

  3. I turn my microwave into a steamer. I pour hot water into a pan and place a cooling rack full of soap bars over it. I shut the door and in about 10 min- no ash! I do not turn on the microwave at all- I just use it as an airtight box.

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