Soap recycling
August 25, 2004 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I swear I saw this a while ago - a soap-saver type device. You put your worn-down soap shards in it, and compress it down to make a new bar of soap. Am I losing my mind, or has anyone else seen this device? If you have any other tips for saving those last bits of soap, I'd love to hear them too.
posted by agregoli to Home & Garden (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's one here - 3rd item down.
posted by milovoo at 7:37 AM on August 25, 2004

Best answer: You must really love your soap, agregoli. I like thrifty people, must be the Scotch in me ;)

This is what my mom used to do, and it works really well - take the slivers of soap and put them in the middle of a washcloth, and then tie up the ends hobo-pack style, with a cord or a ribbon, and wash with it. When the soap's all gone, fill with more slivers. T'is free, Laddie!
posted by iconomy at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2004

I have a related question that's been bugging me for months but that I'm too chicken to post:

What do hotels do with all the soaps used only once? Everytime I stay at a hotel, I open the paper wrapped soap and use it once. It's a full sized bar at the nicer hotels. If I stay more than one night, there is usually a new soap waiting for me the next day. Do they throw them away or melt them down or what? That's a lot of soap to throw away.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:44 AM on August 25, 2004

Ooops, I mean Lassie...
posted by iconomy at 7:45 AM on August 25, 2004

Do they throw them away or melt them down or what? That's a lot of soap to throw away.

Throw them away. (realistically, there's often hairs on them and they've been sitting in a warm puddle for a couple of hours, so with a little tiny soap, there's not much life left in it, with a big soap, that's what you pay extra for. If you really want to go to the trouble you can put a do-not-disturb sign or even better a note on the bathroom door, then a big tip for a job well done, if they interpret your instructions correctly)
posted by milovoo at 7:55 AM on August 25, 2004

"Do they throw them away or melt them down or what?"

Fret not over what could have been,
but contemplate the places that soap has been.
posted by mischief at 8:05 AM on August 25, 2004

Best answer: My Mom used to put them in a knee high stocking. Hang it in the shower or over the sink and just work up a lather through it.

Not the look I go for in my decor, but thrifty . . .
posted by rainbaby at 8:09 AM on August 25, 2004

Best answer: My mom always bought nylon netting (think loofa) and put them in there.

P.S. here's another
posted by m@ at 8:19 AM on August 25, 2004

I just take the sliver from the last bar, lather it up, and stick it to the new bar when I'm done taking my shower. They'll be solidly fused next morning.
posted by zsazsa at 8:21 AM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: I don't love my soap, exactly, I just hate waste and I'm poor enough to want to conserve everything.

Thanks for that first link - I keep searching and finding only nylon bag type things, which would be impractical for our shower. I really want a fused bar of soap again. I suppose I could try melting the soap down and letting it harden again?
posted by agregoli at 8:25 AM on August 25, 2004

You can use this soap down to the last sliver.
posted by tetsuo at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2004

People still use bar soap? A big economy-size bottle of shower gel lasts me for months. All it takes is a nickel-sized glob on a washcloth. No waste, and I never have to -- er -- clean the soap before using.
posted by Tubes at 8:40 AM on August 25, 2004

Best answer: With most soaps you can microwave them and then pour them into some sort of a mold and let them harden that way and presto, new soap [usually brown, however]. If you really want to make soap last, make sure you open it and leave it out in the open air for a while before you start using it. This will dry out some of the moisture in it [and shrink your soap somewhat] but the soap you are left with will be harder and will get used up slightly less quickly because you're not losing moisture soap-weight while you bathe/shower.
posted by jessamyn at 8:49 AM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: Yes, Tubes, people still use bar soap. As evidenced by this thread.

I don't like shower gel. I also take the bar of hand soap from the bathroom sink when it's getting smaller and put it in the shower for use there. So the shower soap has already been "recycled" once.

Jessamyn, that's a neat tip, I hadn't heard that one, but it makes sense.
posted by agregoli at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2004

Yes, you can melt it down and reuse it. Two ways: one is i a double boiler over medium heat - stir frequently. The other is in a microwave, do it in 10 second increments, in something pyrex. Stir it every 10 seconds. With either method, when you have a liquid, pour it into a mold and put it in the fridge. You could also add some oatmeal and then shape into free-form balls. It's gorgeous, and good for your skin.

Also, you can take two slivers and mold them together. Mist both pieces with vodka or witch hazel - just a tad. Let it sit for a fewseconds and then really press those slivers together. Works like a charm. Good for the biceps, too. [/former soapmaker]
posted by iconomy at 9:05 AM on August 25, 2004

It doesn't get any easier or cheaper than zsazsa's method of smashing the old sliver onto the new bar. I've done it that way for years.
posted by stefanie at 9:05 AM on August 25, 2004

I use the mesh bag that the onions came in to hold the slivers of soap. Bonus - it helps scub off garden dirt,. It's also easier for small children to hold slippery soap when it's wrapped in mesh. HeloiseFilter!
posted by theora55 at 9:13 AM on August 25, 2004

I'm a soap masher, too.

Tubes- I use basic liquid soap at the sink for convenience and less mess, but a bar in the shower. IMHO, there are no really good quality liquid soaps- a good, natural bar soap smells good and fresh, and lasts a long time.

And because it can't be said often enough- avoid antibacterial soap!!!!
posted by mkultra at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2004

And because it can't be said often enough- avoid antibacterial soap!!!!

posted by milovoo at 10:41 AM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: I've tried squishing the soap shards back on the bar, but they don't seem to stay really well. I'll try melting down, thanks!

Wow, what a long thread about soap!
posted by agregoli at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2004

I don't have alot of pet peeves, but one of my really big ones is I really HATE it when I have to use a soap that has been mashed together. Especially when they are two completely different brands of soaps. I can feel the soap seam, or something. It icks me out. Which is strange, because it's soap. That is all.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: It's probably just your conscious perception that it's been used.
posted by agregoli at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2004

Does anyone remember those crazy soap dispensers that would dispense ground up soap flakes for you to wash your hands with?

I wonder if someone has made one for leftover soap....
posted by shepd at 12:16 PM on August 25, 2004

I buy Dr. Bronner's by the gallon for about $30, and dilute it into pump-bottles. It lasts for years, and there are no more pulpy messes of bar soap. (Plus, the things that go into bar soap to hold it together are less than optimal for your skin.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2004

We had one of those things in milovoo's link in the house when I was a kid, they do generally keep the soap bits together fairly well as long as you don't leave the lump under water for ages. Personally - yuk.
posted by biffa at 1:09 PM on August 25, 2004

wow, i remember the ronco soap press on tv right next to the in shell scrambler.
lots of soap can be ground and used for other things as the detergent, especially if it's like ivory, or the long tradition of soap sculpture.
posted by ethylene at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2004

milovoo- Interesting links. Still, there's no reason you'd need it, so why bother? It's all hype...
posted by mkultra at 1:32 PM on August 25, 2004

Mist both pieces with vodka or witch hazel

Iconomy, I have to ask, why these two? It seems so random. Wouldn't water work?
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: Zed_Lopez - I don't like liquid soap.

I'm curious about the vodka or witchhazel too.
posted by agregoli at 2:29 PM on August 25, 2004

I put our soap slivers into a jar of hot water and let it sit overnight, shaking periodically. If you get the soap-to-water ratio correct and add a hand pump, it makes for a great hand soap for the bathroom.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:00 PM on August 25, 2004

God, how can you use soap? Shower gel all the way.
posted by Orange Goblin at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2004

I used to use shower gel... right up until it suddenly caused both of my arms to break out in a horrible, emergency-room caliber rash. Since then, I use Ivory soap. Sure, it's not quite as convenient, but no shower gel is nearly as benign as Ivory. Plus, it floats!
posted by vorfeed at 4:23 PM on August 25, 2004

Oh, and I always just use the soap slivers until they've disappeared. It gets annoying near the end, but that only increases my joy at unwrapping that perfect new bar once they're gone.
posted by vorfeed at 4:24 PM on August 25, 2004

It seems Ivory makes a gel. I'm not shilling, just bored waiting around for iconomy to explain vodka and witch hazel.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:30 PM on August 25, 2004

What they really need is hollow soap so you don't have that sliver left over. Seriously, I just mash it into the new bar. Works just fine.
posted by AstroGuy at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2004

Along the lines of Jessamyn's dried out soap hint, when I buy (or more frequently when I am gifted with) an expensive scented soap, I put it in my lingerie drawer. After several months, when the scent has seemingly dissapated (or when I get some more) I bath with it. Good soap can last a very long time indeed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2004

Man I totally remember that soap saver! For a while it seemed like tons of my friends' moms were using that and making multicolored soaps, especially for the kids to use (so you wouldn't have to use the special "guest soap"). I think it was a 70s thing? I thought it was so cool and wanted one too. Never got one. Mom was sure I would end up using it on soap without waiting for it to get used and waste the stuff.
Actually she was right, I would have.
posted by batgrlHG at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2004

Response by poster: Orange Goblin, what is your point? Some people don't like shower gel and use soap. Some people don't like soap and use shower gel. You're not helping, and your derision over soap choices is ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 7:27 AM on August 26, 2004

Thanks to helcat for summoning me back here!

The alcohol dries really fast, preventing mushy little cracks and crevices for bacteria to build up, is all. If you use a tad too much, no harm no foul, but sometimes with water, it can get scummy and gross when you mash the two together. Try them both, you'll see what I mean. Try water and then try vodka, is what I mean ;)

I've been making soap off and on for about 10 years (although it's more off than on anymore) and vodka, witch hazel, or rubbing alcohol are always the three things called for, with vodka being the most popular, because it's colorless and odorless.

Oh, and to Orange Goblin - I hate soap gel - it always makes me break out. I'm a soap girl all the way. I especially like Irish Spring. Manly, yes, but I like it too.
posted by iconomy at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2004

Oh and the alchohol is sterile, or close to it, when you first apply it. Forgot to add that.
posted by iconomy at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2004

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