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Help! Soap “pilling” after use

I’ve noticed that some of my soaps “pill” (about 1mm-2mm diameter balls) up between use and next usage. On the next use the pills are not soluble and just transfer to my face and are shaved off. The pills form after I use the soap and put the top back on and don’t use it for a few days. Does this occur because I put the soap away wet? Should I allow the soap to dry before storing it?
Could be that the soap i a bit old. Mayde it was in hot enviroment so it started to separate. A lot of reasons.
Anyhow, dry your soap before closing it, it will dry fast. Also, you can scrape top layer of soap and see what condition is below, it there ere still problems, then drying is not the issue


Check Out Chick
Staff member
Next time it might help if you show us a photo of the balling up of the soap as this may help us to give you a better answer to your question.
I've noticed this with proraso tubs. I now use cream version in the tubes. It doesn't happen with better soaps .
I can see this being a problem if you're loading with too dry of a brush and then pressing too hard. Try adding a teaspoon or two of water over teh top of the soap and let it bloom for a few minutes before loading.

The photo is an example of the pilling or balling of the soap. Yes, it is a well-known artisan soap. The soap on the right in the photo does not ball up. I’ll try leaving the lid off to allow the soap to dry after use.
I've seen white dots on my soap pucks before- i think it's some oxidative process that is normal. But i've never seen it raised like yours.
It’s strange. Not all of my soaps do this. The little balls remain after rehydrating with a wet brush on the next shave and remain separate from the new lather. The balls do not dissolve in with the lather. They simply transfer to my face and my straight razor wipes them off; and down the drain.

Thanks for your input, Gents. Like I said above, I’ll try drying the soap with an open lid after future shaves. I’ll report back.
The little balls remain after rehydrating with a wet brush on the next shave and remain separate from the new lather. The balls do not dissolve in with the lather.
I'd be interested in seeing a list of the ingredients - if you'd rather not name the soap, could you post the ingredients? It sounds like one of the ingredients didn't get fully incorporated when it was made or has separated out since. Is hyaluronic acid listed in the ingredients? It can clump into little rubbery blobs that won't dissolve quickly. HA clumps do dissolve if you leave them in water for a while but if they didn't get fully dissolved when the soap was made those HA lumps would behave like slippery little gummy worms.

If you feel experimental, scrape off a little of the surface with the little balls and put it in a bowl or glass with enough water to cover it and let it sit for an hour then see if they will mix with the soap and water after soaking.
I suspect the little balls are stearic acid coming out of suspension.

I know some people like using the same soap day after day until it is gone. I suggest you have at least a couple of soaps in rotation and never put the top back on the soap tub until the soap is completely dry. That could take 8 hours to overnight, depending upon the humidity.
Sam And RayClem,

I’ve attached a photo of the little balls after soaking in water for an hour. Very low solubility, it appears. They feel slick, hence, possibly where the slickness of the soap comes from. The ingredients include: water, stearic acid, coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, caster oil, potassium carbonate, mango seed butter, tallow acid, argan kernel oil, jojoba oil, linalool, alpha Isomethyl ionone, citral, benzyl salicylat, and coumarin. I’m a geologist. In college, I paid more attention to girls than chemistry! I like the shave qualities of the soap and intend to purchase it again. It’s made by Fine and called “Barber Blue”. Good stuff!


Blade Biter

I've seen the balls in my RazoRock SMdF and LPL soaps. Never had problems with dissolving though.

Try to start your lather in a bowl. I would guess they will mix in well enough.
Stearic acid is a fatty acid that has low solubility in water unless it has been saponified by an alkali like sodium or potassium hydroxide. I have a collection of over 200 soaps and have seen this happen only a couple of times.
Thanks, RayClem. I’ll live with it this time. I tried, as suggested above, to lather in a bowl (I face lather by habit). Didn’t help as the little balls remained in the bottom of the bowl. I’ll get in the habit of leaving the soaps uncover for a period of time to dry them a bit.

Gents, thanks for your input!
This is interesting that I now something to look at closer.

Could Soap be effected by the surface of soap being disturbed by stiff v/s soft brush hairs?
I have seen this before and associate this with spoilage. I had two soft soaps that were rancid. The smell hit me first then the sight of what you described.
neither made it past a couple of shaves.
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