17 January 2012

Two self-reliant ways to recycle your bar soap

For us, building a self-reliant lifestyle has frequently involved doing more things for ourselves and/or finding new uses for stuff that we already have on hand (remember our SLAM series of posts?). Often, this just involves simple things that still make a significant difference.

For example, we figured two ways to use the "ends" of our bar soap to extend their life:

(click to enlarge)
Perhaps the simplest way we reuse the leftover parts of the bars is to simply save them up in a plastic storage bag until we have 10 or 12. Then, we use a clean section of nylon stocking to make a bag to hold the soap ends (see the photo to the right).

This makes the ends into a new "bar" of soap that works very well — and has a built-in scrubber to boot. For the nylons, we typically buy a pair of plain knee-highs for $.25; that one pair of nylons will allow us to make at least six of these "Frankenbars."

Another way to recycle the bar soap leftovers is to process them into liquid cleaning soap. To do so, we grate the bar soap, mix it with water and vinegar, and cook it down to a liquid soap. The ratios of the ingredients are as follows:
  • 1 oz grated soap
  • 3 fl.oz. water
  • 1 fl.oz. vinegar
Therefore, if you had a pound of soap, the quantities would be:
  • 16 oz grated soap
  • 48 fl.oz. water
  • 16 fl.oz. vinegar
To cook the ingredients down:
  1. Combine the soap, water, and vinegar in an appropriately sized pot
  2. Simmer on a very low heat until the soap pieces are completely dissolved (this may take hours for larger batches). Be sure to stir the soap periodically throughout the process.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and allow the soap to cool.
  4. The liquid soap may get a bit thinner a bit once as it cools. However, if it's still too think, just stir in a little water at a time to get the consistency you want.
  5. Use a funnel to pour the soap into a rinsed-out laundry soap container.
We use 1 cup of this soap in our washing machine before putting in the laundry. This soap also makes a good general cleaner for sinks, toilets, etc.

10 comments:

  1. Great article. I wanted to also add a tip that was given to me years ago. I was told that when you first open a new box of soap, let the bar sit out a couple of days, before using. This will help the soap to last longer. I don't know how true this is but, I always do this.

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    1. Hi Carla, thanks for the kind words and for sharing that tip!

      You say that you always leave the bar sit out for a couple days... have you noticed that it lasts longer then or anything? It might be interesting to try one immediately, and another bar of the same soap after a couple days and see what difference(s) you notice.

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  2. Im curious to see if that works. I think Ill give it a try. Thanks

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! We've used both and they work pretty well for us. Please stop back and let us know how it worked out for you. :)

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  3. Interesting! I have made liquid soap by simply melting it into water, never thought to add vinegar.

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    1. Hi Jennie... thanks for commenting. Yes, vinegar is a great cleaning aid. My wife mixes it in equal parts with hydrogen peroxide for a cheap and effective disinfectant cleaner.

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  4. I recently made our laundry soap with a bar of soap found in the laundry isle by grating the bar {can't recall the name of it but it's sold as a stain fighter. Would have to refer to my cards to get the name for you} boiling it with water then adding in arm and hammer super washing soda and borax. Think it's a cup of soda and 1/2 C. Borax. I've always had a horrid problem getting all the smell in my teen boy's cloth's till using this and will never use anything else that does not come free. lol My previous way to overcome their smell's was to water down bleach even in the color's. Best recipe ever Im telling ya. :D

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    1. That sounds pretty interesting... I've seen a few homemade laundry soap recipes before that may actually be similar, but I've not tried them yet. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Back in the 1960s I used to laugh at my mom for saving the little pieces of soap and stuffing them into the toe of an old nylon. She would then tie that to a nail by the hose in the backyard. That way my dad could wash his hands before coming in the house. Now I realize how smart she was!

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    1. Thanks for commenting! That's a great idea, thanks for sharing.

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