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What to do with old soap?

 
pollinator
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I used to make soap, and to that end and several kilos of old soap- its brittle and discoloured and has various random natural fragrances. What can I do with it? I can't sell it or give it away- rather strict rules about that here and I no longer have the paperwork.

Do you know any crafty or useful purposes? I can give a limited amount away as xmas gifts to family- but I can't give it away to charities or anything like that.
Can I compost it?
 
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you can grate it up, mix the shavings with hot water, and use this "liquid soap" to wash your clothes/dishes/floors/etc. (in my experience, depending on what your soap is it may require more or less effort to melt it completely)
or you can give this liquid to kids to make bubbles

give a bar to kids to soap up the bottom of their sleds
keep a bar outside for when you go out to your garden, you're supposed to claw a bar of soap with your nails so that you don't get dirt completely caked under your nails if you're like me and go work in the garden in the afternoon before dinner. I forget 98% of the time and generally have no nails anyway, but that's what I read

a few kg is a lot of soap, i know that doesn't help too much, but I love using homemade soap at home to clean EVERYTHING with (floors, cars, etc) and can't imagine getting rid of it!!
 
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I save the ends of (bought) bar soap, and grate them up to make both soft soap (it can refill liquid handwash or shower gel containers) and liquid laundry soap.  If I don't have enough ends saved up by the time I need new homemade laundry soap, I'll grate up a full bar and not bother making liquid but mix it with washing soda to use as powder.  But the liquid is really useful (and it is just grated soap and washing soda dissolved into water) for cleaning--I use it as an all-purpose cleaner, and am trying to convince my family to use it for washing dishes--it makes no suds so it's a hard sell, but it still cleans just fine.
 
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I made more soap.. incorporating some of the many kilos of old soap! The biscuit shapes are half grated new soap, half grated old soap of a useful colour/fragrance- moulded into new soaps!



I've also got a bar curing where I grated lots of old multicoloured soap and put it into a new ivory bar- it should look like confetti when I cut the bar.

I'm not sure making more soap necessarily counts.. but the new stuff is good for xmas and brrthday presents!
 
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Some possible uses and gift ideas:

1. The soap scraps can be soaked in water with a few spoonfuls of cheap vegetable oil to make 'White Oil' - used in the garden on fruit trees and roses to kill scale bugs, aphids, etc.
2. Place it in an old sock and use it to wash dishes
3. If it is nicely perfumed, place it in a plastic bag, pierce the bag with a few holes, and hang it in the wardrobe or with sheets/towels to make them smell nice. It may also keep moths away.
 
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I use left over soap to help ease tapping and drilling of steel

I also use it to help make driving screws into wood easier

I use soap to slicken two pieces of wood if there is sliding motion (moving buildings)

I use soap to quiet a pipe rubbing on a joist and causing it to squeak
 
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If cooking over a wood fire, as in camping out and the pot is going to get soot on it, if you soap the pot first, then the black stuff comes right off.

You can put a piece of soap in a wash cloth or little cloth bag, moisten the cloth layer then put baking soda on the outside, and use it to scrub the bath tub ring out of a non enamel type tub.

You can get fine sand to stick directly on the outside of the soap and use that for scrubbing more durable surfaces.
 
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It can help get a metal zipper gliding smoothly - just rub it onto the teeth, a bit.

Writing 'for sale' on car windows (preferably your own, that you're actually trying to sell, lol)

 
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Soap pincushion - could be as simple as a bar of soap in a sock, or you could make as gifts by wrapping in a nice fabric (you can avoid sewing by making them like a Christmas cracker or bonbon (fold the fabric around the soap with long tails at each end which you tie with a bit of yarn or ribbon - even kids can do this). The soap helps your pins glide smoothly when pinning fabric.
 
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grate the soap fine and mix 5 parts with 20 parts baking soda and 1 part borax for laundry detergent.

Grated soap also makes a great travel soap as it's lighter than a bar and you don't have to worry about it not drying out.
 
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Charli Wilson wrote:I made more soap.. incorporating some of the many kilos of old soap! The biscuit shapes are half grated new soap, half grated old soap of a useful colour/fragrance- moulded into new soaps!



I've also got a bar curing where I grated lots of old multicoloured soap and put it into a new ivory bar- it should look like confetti when I cut the bar.

I'm not sure making more soap necessarily counts.. but the new stuff is good for xmas and brrthday presents!



These are beautiful soaps. You’re so creative. And they look absolutely delicious.
 
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You could make a few liquid soap makers.   A mason jar with a pump and a few acrylic beads in it.  Put the soap slivers and chunks in, add water, shake on occasion, and voila', liquid soap!  It makes the soap go farther, as you are not creating a sloppy soapy mess on the counter!  There used to be a commercially made "soap maker", but I haven't seen one in years.  A bar of soap in one of these simple contraptions lasts a LONG time!
 
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My grandmother, who I only know from my mother's childhood stories, would save the slivers of bath soap in a mesh bag at the kitchen sink (in days before dishwashing detergent). The bag would get swished in the wash water to make it soapy.

My mother would save the bath soap slivers in a plastic bag with some added glycerin to keep them moist and after enough had accumulated, she would mash them together (with a strong dinner fork!) and form the mush into balls.
These balls would take a couple of weeks to "harden up" and then were used for handwashing. The balls seemed to last a long time, and didn't break apart like a bar would as it got smaller and thinner. Less surface area, smaller contact with the soap dish to dissolve it?
Come to think of it, the small balls may have been re-formed in the next batch (as a core?). I bet there's a bag of slivers waiting for me in her old house...

Personally, I just smash the slivers onto the side of the next bar of bath soap. The bars with deeply embossed logos help with making a soft surface to receive the sliver, and often I do this on the second day of using the new bar so it has softened up from being wet.

If I had (and I probably do, thanks Mom!) a bunch of random bits of old soap, I'd grate it up and make the hand washing balls. You could even add pumice for scrubbing dirty hands.
 
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:My grandmother, who I only know from my mother's childhood stories, would save the slivers of bath soap in a mesh bag at the kitchen sink (in days before dishwashing detergent). The bag would get swished in the wash water to make it soapy.



I was looking back over some old blog posts and found this photo.



It's soap saver, similar to what Kenneth describes. This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company. The stamp indicates that the patent was granted September 14, 1875.

Surely, there's something modern but similar we could use (???)

 
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Charli,

Please make lots of these and I bet you could sell them on Etsy.

They are beautiful. Your creativity is a inspiration.
 
Charli Wilson
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Lee Gee wrote:Charli,

Please make lots of these and I bet you could sell them on Etsy.

They are beautiful. Your creativity is a inspiration.



Thanks :)

There's a lot of legislation here involved in selling cosmetics and candles- it would cost me hundreds of pounds in getting recipes approved/etc- only useful if you do it full time! I'm quite happy to give them away as xmas presents though!
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Leigh Tate wrote:

It's soap saver, similar to what Kenneth describes. This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company. The stamp indicates that the patent was granted September 14, 1875.

Surely, there's something modern but similar we could use (???)



There may be some kitchen items that come close... tea strainers (especially the grapefruit sized balls, ready to go!), other mesh strainers, potato ricers, or "tuna can" strainers could maybe be used directly (alone or in pairs), or modified.
A fine mesh bag like for washing delicates in the laundry? or maybe there's a smaller mesh bag meant for holding small electronics accessories like headphones or charging cables?
a toe or other segment of nylon stocking?

Someone at the lab was crocheting kitchen scrubby things, maybe if they were made like a throw pillow cover, you could tuck the soap scraps inside through the flap. You could use it to make the water soapy, or use it directly for cleaning.
 
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Leigh Tate wrote:

Kenneth Elwell wrote:My grandmother, who I only know from my mother's childhood stories, would save the slivers of bath soap in a mesh bag at the kitchen sink (in days before dishwashing detergent). The bag would get swished in the wash water to make it soapy.



I was looking back over some old blog posts and found this photo.



It's soap saver, similar to what Kenneth describes. This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company. The stamp indicates that the patent was granted September 14, 1875.

Surely, there's something modern but similar we could use (???)



An old friend of mine told me that her family used to put the soap pieces into a can, with holes punched into the bottom, and hang the can below the tap. They would wash their hands that way.
 
 
 
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I think that all of the replies above are very good and have tried many of them. I use slivers of soap to mark fabric when I cut out patterns. It washes out, does not stain the fabric like some of the marking pencils, and I always have a supply, do not need to go to the fabric store and purchase marking pencils.
 
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This topic reminded me of a friend who got an old magnetic soap holder similar to Professor Fuzzworthy's Air Dry Magnetic Soap Holder <
  I forget how much longer their soaps lasted, but I do remember my friend explaining that a lot of a soap bar gets left on a soap dish or edge of a sink, and this way it drys out and any would be drips usually dry on the bar.
 
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My mother used to use slivers of old soap bars like Opal just mentioned, to mark fabric for sewing/cutting.

I use the bits to make laundry soap as several others have already mentioned.  The one tidbit I'd add is that I find trying to grate it into tiny bits rather challenging with the thin brittle scraps I get.  I found instead that if I take them to my cutting board and use a large knife to try and slice off thin pieces I can make those tiny pieces much easier.  The soap doesn't really cut off in thin pieces because it is hard and brittle.  Instead those thin strips just shatter into bits rather like the gratings would be.  These seem to melt easier than larger chunks esp. if I first heat them in a pot with just a little water.  Once it's all melted I'll add more hot water as needed for my laundry soap.
 
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Charli Wilson wrote:

Lee Gee wrote:Charli,

Please make lots of these and I bet you could sell them on Etsy.

They are beautiful. Your creativity is a inspiration.



Thanks :)

There's a lot of legislation here involved in selling cosmetics and candles- it would cost me hundreds of pounds in getting recipes approved/etc- only useful if you do it full time! I'm quite happy to give them away as xmas presents though!



Unfortunately, almost none of that legislation has to do with removing lead, mercury or other toxins from the cosmetics that people use on their body, including their lips and face.  Quick, deceitful profit is apparently much more valuable than people's health.

John S
PDX OR
 
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If you're of the smashing-soap-bits-onto-the-next-bar type, here is my tip from working with clay:

Use your nail to roughen up both surfaces. I do a back and forth cross-hatching pattern to get lots of texture. Get it a little bit wet and you'll get a bit of a slurry happening with the stuff you scratched out. Then smush together firmly. It'll hold better this way!
 
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Take slithers of soap left over place them into pantyhose toe end, tie a knot. Leaving excess enough to tie around garden spicket to wash hands with to remove dirt & grime.
 
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F Agricola wrote:...
1. The soap scraps can be soaked in water with a few spoonfuls of cheap vegetable oil to make 'White Oil' - used in the garden on fruit trees and roses to kill scale bugs, aphids, etc.
2. Place it in an old sock and use it to wash dishes...



So simple and so easy to apply, and why DIDN'T I think of them sooner? THANK YOU for sharing!  I'm in search of an old sock now, to wash the dishes that were left in my sink, lol!
 
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What a great thread!

I put a lump of soap into a plastic mesh bag (they often sell garlic/onions in them here) tie on a loop of twine and hang over the outside tap - useful when rinsing my hands after gardening.
 
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David Ebo, Thanks for sharing the magnetic soap holder video. How cool!
 
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F Agricola wrote:2. Place it in an old sock and use it to wash dishes



I especially like an old wool sock. It's a more abrasive and scrubby. Great for hands covered in garden/shop grime as well.
 
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