Powdered soap has gone hard, how can I break it up?
December 9, 2014 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a large bucket of LD Carlson Easy Clean home brew sanitizer that is a solid block, not the granulated powder that it once was. How can I break it up so I can scoop it again?

The rock-like mass is approximately 15cm (6 inches) in diameter, and about 10cm (4 inches) tall. It originally had the consistency of powder laundry soap.

I have tried the following, with limited success:
-smashing the pail against the ground
-smashing the rock-like mass of sanitizer with a meat tenderizer
-scraping the soap to slough off powder, and
-adding a damp paper towel, like you would for hard brown sugar. I think that made it even more consolidated.

The lump is too big for my food processor, and honestly I'd worry about damaging the blades.

My next idea, with appropriate mask and ventilation is to drill a grid of holes and chisel/cleave it down into manageable pieces. Any other tips or tricks for breaking it up?
posted by KevCed to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Best answer: It sounds like it got exposed to moisture. That stuff seizes up pretty bad. I'd try scraping at it with something stiff like a fork, and just scrape together as much as you need each time.
posted by slogger at 7:37 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: And yeah, definitely do it in a well-ventilated area. The dust from that stuff can be nasty.
posted by slogger at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Oh I just went thru this with my dishwasher detergent. The key is to get it out of its container first, then you can smash it with a hammer and it will start breaking apart.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 8:12 AM on December 9, 2014

I would use an ice pick and stab away.
posted by 724A at 8:17 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Get a new container of it. This happened to me when I was homebrewing in a very humid tropical country and stupidly stored all my Easy Clean in an un-air conditioned closet. I tried drilling holes, hitting it with a hatchet, etc. I was able to break some away, but never was I able to turn the whole back into powder, and the effort was not worth it.
posted by GorgeousPorridge at 8:18 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason that you can't just add water to it and turn it into a liquid sanitizer?

Or failing that, what happens if you dehydrate it all the way, does that help it get more brittle? If you can break off a chunk, bake it in the coolest oven you can (200F or lower) for an hour or so, and see if its response to a hammer has changed.
posted by aimedwander at 9:40 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Break it up into manageable chunks, then apply it to a cheap cheese-grater.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:24 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @Aimedwander: The dilution is 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water, so I would have about a hundred gallons of sanitizer.

I think I will try 30 seconds of drilling. If it looks like I can break it down to manageable chunks for grating (or crushing) I'll do that. Else I'm going to take GorgeousPorridge's advice and save the effort. (In that case, I will put this up on my local Craigslist free. Maybe some other homebrewers are short on money but not time...)
posted by KevCed at 5:25 PM on December 9, 2014

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