What Causes Orange Spots On Soap?

orange spots on handcrafted soap

Unlike spots on an old avocado, orange spots on soap should not alarm you. In fact, it should be quite reassuring that they are no more than a natural result of having a mineral-rich bar of soap that has not been treated with artificial preservatives or colorants.


Orange spots are extremely common in handcrafted bar soap and incredibly hard to prevent...I know, I've tried. After many years of research, frustration and experimentation, I discovered orange spots were something I would simply have to learn to appreciate.

They are representative of the fact that all things in nature become what they are intended to be, not what we want them to be. I began my search for answers with the goal of mastering the dreaded orange spot. What I came away with was a whole new appreciation for our mission statement: Bringing the POWER OF NATURE into Daily Routine.™


I'll admit, when I came across my first spot, I was devastated. I had been making soap for a while, hadn't had a problem and didn't change our recipe. I just couldn't understand what the heck this was.

So naturally, I went a bit MAD trying to figure out.

And the good news was that they were not caused by angry gnomes pressing their fingers into our curing soaps while we were asleep (I told you I went a little MAD).

nefertem holistic skincare with gnome

...That gnome still looks like he's up to no good though, doesn't he? ha...


Orange spots can form in handcrafted soaps for a variety of reasons. Please note that orange spots would also develop in store-bought, commercially-made soaps if synthetic ingredients like colorants and preservatives were not added to cover them up. All soap is subject to developing orange spots. Here's why...

Reason 1 - Superfatting the Soap Recipe

Many handcrafted soap artisans superfat their recipes to produce a more moisturizing bar of soap. Superfatting is an industry term for adding more oils to the soap than is necessary to actually create the soap. This leaves free floating oils in the soap that can eventually go rancid, causing orange spots. Since beef tallow (a major ingredient in our soaps) is already very moisturizing, we do not superfat our soaps. 

Reason 2 - Minerals in the Ingredients

Spots can also form due to a natural reaction between the minerals in the ingredients and the sodium hydroxide. Minerals are found in the water, oils and fats used to make soap. When exposed to the sodium hydroxide, a chemical reaction occurs causing the minerals to change color. Kind of like how iron turns green after prolonged exposure to air. Oddly enough, the spots can rear their head right away, over time as the soap ages or never at all. It's a toss up. 

....although I'm still suspect about those gnomes...


Turns out the same mineral-rich ingredient we pride ourselves on using is the same ingredient causing those pesky little orange spots. So we gave up the fight and learned to be ok with this flaw. 

Really, we determined that real is more important than pretty. Part of the attraction to our soaps is that they are 100% natural and one-of-a-kind. 

When you buy a bar of soap from us, you are buying a piece of our heart & soul, our time & energy and our passion for bringing the power of nature into daily routine. We can't limit nature's power to what we perceive as perfection. We must embrace all her quirky ways and move on.

So, after years of worrying about our unwelcomed guests, we are proud to say we have moved on and can now focus on more important things...like what else those gnomes were up to... haha! 

1 comment

  • What practices are used for controlling dreaded orange spots? What is rancidity and why is it a problem?


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