[UPDATE 2 June 2018: Ever since we moved out of Jaya 33, we’ve never had a single case of our wraps going mouldy in our shop, yay! Will try to blog about this again soon.]
Sometimes the best laid plans really don’t turn out the way you expect them to.
We discovered that mould was developing on the edges of our beeswax cloth wraps. That’s the greyish, knobbly stuff that you see along the corner edges of the wrap in the photo.
However, the white powder on the flat surface of the wrapper, however, is known as beeswax bloom – something that appears on 100% pure beeswax products, and is entirely safe. Read this page for a bit more info on this. It can be brushed off the surface of the wrappers with a dry cloth, and both the wrapper and the soap it protects will beÂ perfectly fine.
To say that I am disheartened is putting it very mildly. This is the first time ever that we have had this kind of thing happen to our products. So far we have seen the mould appearing on the cloth wraps for Goat’s Milk and Honey (Batch Numbers GMH1402-01 and GMH1402-03). It sort of makes sense, because not only does cold process soap naturally contain glycerin which is a humectant (i.e. absorbs moisture), but our goat’s milk and honey soap also contains a generous amount of honey, which is also a humectant. It must have been exposed to quite a bit of moisture in the air that made the soap slightly damp, and allowed the mould to form along the edges as you can see from the photograph.
Recall that we are doing all that we can to reduce the use of plastic in our packaging – these beeswax cloth wraps are a completely plastic-free alternative to shrink wrapping, but from this incident we can see that they do indeed have limitations. We’ve never had mould growing on the plastic shrink wrapping that we used to employ to protect our soap in the past.
There doesn’t seem to be any sign of mould on the soap – just the cloth wraps. The soap bars still look completely normal despite the mould on their wrappers, but we’re taking them off the shelves anyway, to be kept for observation.
Now while I am all for championing the use of environmentally-friendly packaging options, I don’t like the sight or just the idea of mould appearing on anything that we make. So here’s what we are going to do:
If you notice this happening to any soap that you have bought from us from March 2014 onwards, we would like to offer you a full refund or an exchange for fresh soap to replace the ones that you have found to be in mouldy wrappers. Just send us an email together with photographs of the offensive wrappers (so that we can confirm it as a valid case, as well as for supplementing our own investigation) and we’ll get you sorted out.
If you have bought soap from us in these beeswax wraps and you foresee storing them for a long period of time (i.e. more than a month), please do all that you can to ensure that the place where you’re storing your soap is clean and dry. We reckon that we may have a dampness issue in our retail store at Jaya 33 (we aren’t the only store owners reporting mouldy items, apparently – I will need to confirm this). Here’s what you can do to keep your storage areas dry:
- Use ordinary uncooked rice. Place it in a bowl or a drawstring cloth bag, and keep it in your storage space. Check on it every now and then, and replace every 3 months. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that rice has saved many an electronic gadget from ‘drowning’! :p
- Use rock salt. Here’s an easy how-to for this method. I love the fact that the salt can be reused again and again – just by drying it out in the sun, if necessary.
- You can also opt for store-bought dehumidifiers like Thirsty Hippo, but they are not biodegradable, and can only be used once (as far as I’m aware, at least).
On our end, we’re taking the soap bars that are affected by this mouldy wrapping, and keeping them for observation. They will not be available for sale.
We are truly sorry that this has happened. We really didn’t see this coming when we first rolled out the beeswax cloth wraps at the end of last year – testing in the months prior to that went along without a hitch. I think mould on our wrappers is going to be a longstanding issue due to our natural tropical climate in Malaysia, as well as the fact that we are trying our very best to adopt an earth-friendly stance to our packaging options… But I truly hope that together with your own efforts to provide good storage conditions for your soap, we can still make these beeswax cloth wraps a viable, long-term packaging solution that will be kinder on our earth.
If you have any thoughts on this, please share them with us in the Comments section below, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than glad to hear from you.