PHIC and the Big Soap Fail

Throughout the years, I have linked to soap making articles on Prepper Website. These articles covered everything from using wood ash and lard to using Fels Naptha as a start. One thing that always comes up is how homemade soap needs to cure or dry for a period of time. As as result, I have had this idea that store bought soap needs to do the same. I decided to use my little friend PHIC to find out for sure!

Melting Soap

We use Dove Sensitive Skin (unscented) Bar Soap in my house. It is not a very manly soap. But due to some allergic reactions to the scents they place in store bought soap, it is the best for my family. The problem is that this soap seems to “melt” and in my opinion, doesn’t last as long as it should. I will say that it seems a lot lighter and softer than other “manly” soaps that I was used to growing up.

After using this soap for many years, I decided to see if I could make it last longer by doing a little experiment and letting it dry out. This is where my little friend PHIC comes in. He was going to help me figure out this mystery!

My Little Friend PHIC

PHIC was a character that I made up when I taught elementary Science. I used this character to teach the Scientific Process. PHIC stands for Problem, Hypothesis, Investigation and Conclusion.

If you are remembering the Scientific Process from your college or high school days, you might remember some extra steps in there or at least some expansion of these four main sections. Remember, I was working with elementary students and trying to make the Scientific Process easy to remember.

For nostalgic sake, I’ll use PHIC for the rest of this article.

P.H.I.C. – The Problem

My problem was that it seemed like we were burning through the Dove Sensitive Skin (unscented) Bar Soap that I was buying at the store. It seemed like I was making frequent trips to the stockpile to open up a new bar of soap. And without a real feel for how much soap my family really needed to stockpile, I was always a little concerned that in a true SHTF situation, we would run out before we could get a resupply. My solution at the time was to just have a good amount of soap always on hand.

P.H.I.C. – Hypothesis

Because of the articles and videos I posted on Prepper Website that dealt with DIY soap making, I made an educated guess that one of the reasons why the Dove soap seemed to melt so quickly was because the Dove factories was making and distributing the soap without allowing it to cure or dry-out properly.

I believed that if I would allow the Dove soap to sit out and “cure” for some time, that the soap would last longer and I wouldn’t have to have so much soap in my stockpile.

P.H.I.C. – Investigation

My investigation would consist of opening three bars of soap and letting them dry out for various times. My first soap would sit out for 30 days. The second bar would dry for 60. And the third bar of soap would cure for 90 days. I started my experiement on January 3, 2020.

I had to convince my wife to let me leave the bars of soap on an over-sized index card on the counter of our bathroom. Each index card was labeled with the date that would mark the end of that bar of soap’s wait time – 2/3/20, 3/3/20 and 4/3/20.

I waited for February 3, 2020 so that I could start the first phase of my investigation. On that morning, I took the bar of soap that was currently in the shower and replaced it with the bar of soap that was sitting on the 2/3/20 index card.

We didn’t change our shower routine. I take one shower a day, unless a second is needed. My wife didn’t change her routine either. We kept everything the same. We had to, to make my little friend PHIC happy!


I forgot to mention that I also had a control. When I started on Jan. 3, 2020, I opened up a new bar of soap and placed it straight in the shower. The control lasted exactly 11 days. I used the soap until I couldn’t use it anymore. Like I mentioned before, it literally melted in my hands as I used the last little bit to lather up. I needed to use another bar of soap from Jan. 15 to Jan. 26. Again, 11 days seemed to be the length of time a brand new bar of soap lasted. I then opened up ANOTHER bar of soap on Jan. 27 to get me through to Feb. 3 so I could start my experiment.

The bar of soap that sat out for 30 days lasted from Feb. 3, 2020 to Feb. 18, 2020. Fifteen days is better than eleven days, but it was significatnt enough for me. I wanted to see more improvement. Again, I had to use another soap to get me through to March 3 and the 60 day soap.

On March 3 I started using my 60 day soap with high hopes. The soap lasted from March 3 to March 19. 16 days! That’s all!?! Like before, I used the soap until it melted in my hands. I was hoping for better results. The 90 day soap had to be the ticket! I used another bar until I hit April 3, 2020.

The 90 day soap experiment started on April 3 and lasted till April 19. Again, 16 days! This is better than 11. I mean, if you were in an SHTF situation, you would want an extra 5 days from each bar of soap. But this is significant enough during regular times to stack soap up on your bathroom counter to dry out. My experiment was a failure. Or was it?

P.H.I.C. – Conclusion

I didn’t get the results that I was hoping for. I thought that the store bought soap would last a lot longer if I took it out of the package and let it dry out or cure on the counter. The experiment showed that my hypothesis was wrong, at least for Dove Sensitive Skin (unscented) Bar Soap. I could try this experiment with another brand, but I would be the only one using the soap, so the experiment wouldn’t be the same.

So although I didn’t get the results I was looking for, the experiment wasn’t a complete failure. I learned the average amount of time a bar of Dove Sensitive Skin (unscented) Bar Soap lasted in my home. I shared about utilizing that information over on the article called, “Hygiene Supplies – How Much Do You Really Need?” With the information I gained from my experiment, I know that I need about 60 bars of soap for the whole family, if I plan on stocking up this specific soap for a whole year. That’s a lot of soap, but I normally buy the soap in packages of 12.

I’m curious to know how long a bar of homemade soap lasts. If you make your own soap, wold you let me know in the comments? I would also be curious to know if you have ever tried an experiment like this to help you get better prepared.


Finding Soap Making Articles on Prepper Website – CLICK HERE!

12 thoughts on “PHIC and the Big Soap Fail”

  1. I read an article a while back where they let the bar soap dry for a couple of weeks and then dipped it in melted wax. When they were ready to use it they peeled off a bit of the wax, enough to get wet and and put onto a rag. This way the entire bar did not get wet and it lasted much longer.

  2. Barbara

    That soap by design is not intended to last long. I have chemical sensitivities too and found that Jergens, Palmolive and old fashioned Ivory work for me. All three of these can be cured out. Ivory soap is the most versatile (outside of lye soap) as it can be used for dishes, laundry, general cleaning, and all age folks bathing.

    1. I agree with you about Ivory. I remember finding a bar that had fallen behind some items. When I finally used it, it lasted for a while.

      We’ve tried other soaps and this is the one that everyone seemed to settle on. I’m just going to have to get a nice stockpile. I might have to get some Ivory as a backup for the stockpile. 😉


  3. I make soap, and a properly cured 5 oz bar will last me about 6-8 weeks if kept out of standing water between uses. Plenty of room for variation from person to person, I would assume, depending on how much soap you use.

    1. Steph,

      How long do you cure your homemade soap? Do you just let it sit out in the open? Do you do anything special?

    1. Jennifer,

      Felted soap seems pretty easy to do. I might have to try it.

      I do use a soap dish. I actually place a sponge in it, so the soap sits on top of it and never in the water that is accumulated in the soap dish. It helps the soap to dry out faster definitely.


  4. Ed Perry

    Greetings…..I read a LOT of articles, posts, etc. from all over the prepping circuit and I reply or post very little…but this post deserves an “attaboy”….a great article with great food for thought…soap in my preps has always been right up there at the top of my needs…this article will cause me to look very closely at my “stash”….thank you for a well thought article!!!

  5. I’m curious as to whether your soap was wrapped or unwrapped for the time tests. Perhaps unwrapped would allow for greater drying.

    I did similar to ivory soap before bagging and bucketing it. Mine got moldy on the paper after zip bagging it. “You can’t wash soap!” The mold was only on the paper…

    Either way I call it a win for you since you did get some extra time out of it.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Yes. They were unwrapped and left out in the open to dry.

      It’s definitely a win because I’ve always wanted to do it and get the info.


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