Rebatching Soap

If you have known me for a while, you know how frugal I am.  I don’t just pinch pennies, I crush them!  So, when I found out that you can take small slivers of soap, grate them up, melt them down, and make bath sized bars of soap again, I decided to dive right in.  You know that old saying “everything old is new again”?  Well, this is yet another example, because this is exactly what our forefathers (ahem, foremothers) used to do!

I did a lot of research to find out the best method to do this.  Apparently you can re-melt the soap on the stove, in a crockpot, in the microwave or in the oven.  I’m sure you could also melt soap in a barbecue, but thank goodness I didn’t see a tutorial on that one or I would have tried it!

Seriously, I would have. 🙂

After several tries, I think I have found the easiest and simplest method… for me, at least.

how to rebatch soap

A loaf of rebatched soap before being cut into bars. Isn’t it pretty?

Before any of you send me nasty e-mails or curse my first born son about the kind of soap I am using, I am going to add this disclaimer:

“I, Vickie, being of sound mind and body, do solemnly swear that I understand the health implications of using commercially prepared soaps containing caustic and poisonous chemicals and substances which potentially could be damaging to my health”.

That being said, read the first sentence of this post again. 🙂

It’s the same peril when you get a borer in your fruit tree.  If you spray the tree with insecticide, then the fruit can no longer be considered organic.  But if you don’t spray, the tree will die and you will therefore have no fruit!  I prefer to be organic, but that being said, I like to eat also!

Because of the peril that commercial soaps carry, I have recently begun to make my own soaps using home rendered lard and tallow, organic olive oil and coconut oil and pure essential oils.  You can see those posts by clicking on the tab above labeled soapmaking.  So, I hope to think that my penance will soon be paid and any future re-batching will be done with my home-made, totally organic, skin loving soaps.  I promise.

Enough said.

So, If you would like to venture into rebatching your used slivers of soap or even rebatching a bunch of those free soaps you get at the various motels and hotels you have visited, here is how I do it…

 

How to make soap bars out of soap sliversFirst, weigh your slivers to find out how big your batch of soap will be so that you can chose the appropriate mold.  This batch is about 2 pounds (just shy), so I set the free end of my adjustable soap mold at the 2 pound mark and lined the mold with waxed paper. That is when I took the picture below.  But then, mid shred, I found a bit more soap, so I reset the mold at the 3 pound mark but added one block on the inside because my batch was larger than two pounds, but certainly not three pounds. I forgot to take another picture of the mold with just the waxed paper rebatching commercial soap lining it in the three pound plus block position (wow, doesn’t that sound technical!), but you can see what it looks like in the picture below with the soap in the mold. The block is another adjustable end, so if I wanted to I could make two batches of soap at one time.  My husband made this mold for me (he is so clever and handy), and if you would like to see how to make one, go HERE.

making new soap out of old soapNext, either chop, shred, grind or grate your soap.  You want the pieces to be as small as possible.  You can use your cheese grater, your food processor or a cutting board and sharp knife.  The process is a bit tough on my old food processor and I found it to be just as fast and easy using old fashioned elbow grease, a good knife and a cutting board.

Pour the chopped/shredded/ground soap into a heavy bottomed, oven proof saucepan, then place on the stove on low.  I have found that if I start the process on the stove, I can tell if I need to add some more water or not.  With almost two pounds of soap, I started out with 1/2 cup of water.  This seemed to be sufficient because I saw the soap starting to melt on the bottom.  Be careful, though, because it isn’t hard to scorch the soap!  You are just jump starting the melting process at this point.  Once I can see that the soap is melting, I place the saucepan in the oven with a lid on at the lowest temperature your oven will allow.  Mine only goes down to 170 degrees.  After 1/2 hour, stir the soap and assess whether you will need more water or not.  I added just a bit more soap at this point, and the mixture seemed a bit dry, so I added another 1/4 cup of water.  You don’t want to add too much water at this point.  It won’t really hurt anything, but it will take longer for the bars to dry out and be sufficiently hard enough to use!how to make soap out of old soap

The soap was put back into the oven for another 1/2 hour.  At this point I had a fairly loose slurry of soap with small chunks interspersed, which I thought looked really cool, so I went ahead and glopped the soap into my soap mold.rebatched commercial soap

Yes, glopped.  Rebatched soap won’t pour like home-made soap will.  It glops.  Which makes it a bit harder to put into the mold, smooth out the top or get any bubbles out.  No matter, because I’m not entering these bars into the county fair, for heaven’s sake!

If you don’t want to see little chunks of soap in your final rebatched bars (I think it’s pretty, but to each his or her own), you can continue to melt and stir the soap in the oven, but depending on how small you got your chunks/shreds/pieces of soap, you may or may not be successful in getting a completely smooth, one color, no chunk bar of soap.

how to make old soap into new bars of soapLet your soap cool and re-harden in the mold for a day or so, then cut and use.  Unlike home-made soap, you don’t have to wait for re-batched soap to cure because the soap has already gone through the curing process  back when it was manufactured.  However, if you want to rebatch home-made soap that has not fully cured, you should either wait until the curing process (saponification) has been completed before you proceed, or make sure you let the soap cure again until it reaches a pH of 8.5 or less.

There you have it.  Rebatched soap.

I did a little calculating with this batch of soap.  The rebatched soap  was approximately 2 pounds and cost elbow grease and a little bit of energy, but certainly less energy than it would cost in gas to run to the store.  At Walmart, if I were to purchase about the same amount and same kind of soap, online it shows an 8 pack of 3.75 ounce bars (a couple ounces less than 2 pounds) of Irish Spring for $ 3.75

So, essentially I saved $3.75.  Yes, I agree, that’s not so much.  But it was fun and I had an hour to kill.  Plus…  I like to pinch pennies!how to make new soap from old

Actually, this is one of those skills that is good to know.  It’s not uncommon for soap makers to rebatch their botched batches of soap!  Say that one three times!  If a soap maker discovers that not enough lye was used, the fragrance was a bit off, etc., rebatching can save the cost of making the soap.

Oh, I forgot to mention something.  In case you were wondering…  no, rebatching used soap is NOT going to spread germs.  Period.  Most viruses are killed by 108 degree fahrenheit temperatures.  That’s why our bodies get a fever when we are sick!  And as any cook knows, pretty much all bacteria are toast when they reach 160 degrees fahrenheit. When you melt your soap in a 170-ish degree oven, all of that is taken care of!

So, what do you think?  Would you ever rebatch soap?

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56 thoughts on “Rebatching Soap

  1. I do this for my mom with her soap slivers, except I make liquid hand soap from them. As for me, I buy handmade soap and use it until it is all gone. My husband hates that I insist on using the tiny slivers. So, I let him use the bars and I use the slivers. Works for us!

    • Great idea, Darlene! When doing my research about rebatching soap, I ran across quite a few suggestions and ways to avoid rebatching, and one of them was making liquid soap! Also, I saw where quite a few people actually hang a nylon stocking from their faucet and keep a bar of soap in the foot. That way, when it gets small, you just add another bar of soap and carry on, leaving the small sliver in there to get used up! I love your comments Darlene and appreciate that you took the time to share them with me!

    • Hello Apple Pie! This could be a great family project because not only does it save money (every little bit helps, I say) but there is none of that nasty lye to deal with! I will be making another batch soon because we have also saved all the free soaps that we get from the hotels/motels we have stayed at over the past year and have about two pounds of that soap ready to go! Free soap – what’s not to love! 🙂

  2. We just did a large batch over here ourselves and was interested to see your process. I like the idea of putting in the oven to slowly melt, we will try that next time. I think we put too much water in ours since it took a month to dry!!! But they sure were pretty as we laced ours with dried lavender 🙂

    I agree with your philosophy, after all, good old Ben said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

    • Good morning, Jes. The oven works great because you don’t have to worry about it scorching like you would on the stove. I think the crockpot works just as well, but I just like using the oven better. I would bet your soap was very pretty with dried lavender, and it probably smelled even better!

    • I am so glad you are going to try this! If you don’t have a soap mold, that’s okay, just line a loaf pan or a small box with waxed paper! Have a great weekend, Thorn.

    • Hello, Helen – glad to meet you! Yes, pretty much anyone can do this, and you don’t need any special equipment! I hope you try it, and if you do, please let me know how it turns out. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great idea! Pinning to try later. Sent to my brother who is interested in making soap but hasn’t tried it yet.
    Found you on Friday’s Five Features.

    • Good morning, Amy. I’m glad you liked the disclaimer! This method of rebatching soap seems to be the easiest, to me at least, and I hope you try it!

  4. What a fantastic money saving idea. I love the way the colors came out, very artistic. I’d love it if you shared this at the Saturday showcase at bowdabrablog.com.

    ~Crystal

  5. ooh! I want to try this. but it would take us a while to use up that many bars of soap. I have liquid soap in the bathrooms for my son. It’s just easier for him.

    found on Friday Flash Blog.

    • Start saving your soap, but you can also add in those little soaps you get for free from the hotels/motels that you visit! Any soap will do! It takes us a while longer now to gather all the soap than when we had three boys living at home. Now that we are empty nesters, the soap slivers get rebatched only a few times a year (adding in the hotel/motel soaps). Enjoy your weekend, Audrey!

    • Hey! You’re right, they do look like homemade paper pulp! Thanks for stopping by and for hosting such an awesome party, Andrea.

  6. I love how the re-batched bars turned out! lovely color and the speckles make it look so cool! your suggestion on the hotel soaps is awesome – hubby travels a lot and brings back all the little bars for our emergency bin. Normally that’s not too bad except one time the maid gave him a huge bag full. So now I have a huge tub full! This will be a great idea to get some use out of those bars vs. them just sitting there. Awesome dude! You are the sweetest Vickie!

    • Thanks! You guys are pretty awesome too! If you rebatch all your hotel/motel soaps, don’t worry about the scent – somehow it all seems to meld together just fine. Of course, you could always add some fragrance of your own, but it really isn’t necessary.

  7. This is brilliant. I have had other people suggest to me to just melt the soap ends down, which I found put me off rather as that would take a while, but blending them up first? Well, that makes ever so much more sense!
    Thankyou!

    • Good morning, Mrs Yub! You should try it! The whole process is very simple and doesn’t take much time, and it is something the kids could help you with since there isn’t any lye involved! Have a great day!

  8. I always wanted to try this. But all the directions that I read are very hard to understand. You directions are layed out so good. I will have to try this. Thanks for sharing over at the Snickerdoodle Sunday.

    • Hello, Felicia! I am pleased that my instructions are understandable! I know how frustrating it can be when you want to make something but have to decipher or, worse yet, guess what the instructions are trying to say! I hope you give this a try. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I have been waiting for something like this!!! Thank you so much for sharing, I am so doing this! My son travels a lot and always brings me the motel soaps because he and his wife say they are too small to use…..:/ I guess they must have more money than I do! I love that there is no lye involved, I’ve always wanted to try to make my own soap but it seemed to complicated and buying ingredients I don’t readily have seem counter cost effective.
    “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”
    Penny pinchers unite!
    *hugs*deb

    • Isn’t it great to be frugal – especially when everybody knows you are – and they give you itty bitty soaps that you can rebatch into beautiful bath sized bars! It’s really fun to do. You can use all of the soaps or even separate them into color groups – whatever your fancy is! Thanks for reading the post, Deb. I hope you give rebatching soap a try!

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  13. What a fabulous way to reduce the amount of soap waste! I am forever throwing away those little pieces but that will be a thing of the past now. Thanks so much for linking up at Mum-bo Monday. This post received the most clicks and will be featured this week! Thanks again #mumbomonday

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  15. Thanks for sharing! I get a lot of soap scraps from my hot process soaps in my crock pot. I’ve been saving them not sure what to do with them, and now I know! I will be experimenting with this later today.. Do you think I could add some olive oil instead of water? Or would that interfere with the pH? Hm…

    • Hmmmm… I don’t know. I would think that might interfere with the hardness of the soap, but I’m not sure! Let me know how yours turns out!

  16. When I rematch soap, I do it in a double boiler. It has never scorched, and i am better able to keep an eye on it. Better to heat up one burner than to run an oven! Thank you for your site, I have been enjoying it.

    • You know, I think I will do the double boiler way next time. Right now, living in this tiny trailer, cooking in the oven isn’t so much fun. But I do have an outdoor kitchen set up, so the next time I rebatch, I will double boiler it! Thanks for stopping by today, Deb, and leaving a comment.

  17. Miss Vicki!! Your website is AMAZING!! THANK YOU for your brutal honesty and for creating a down to earth website that is so easily relatable to everyday living! 1 year ago (July 23 2014 to be exact) I was diagnose with a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer, afterwhich I needed to make a decision on my health and how I was treating my body, not to mention how I was taking care of my family! Luckily, after chemo, surgery (bilateral mastectomy, one side all tissue removed, the other all tissue plus 8 lymph nodes) and 6 weeks of radiation therapy, I am at this point CANCER FREE!! My husband and I have been looking for ways to eat and live healthier. Your blogs are entertaining and at the same time very informative and educational, I WILL be sharing it with everyone I know! THANK YOU again for taking the time out of your day to share with us and help educate us without being anal about how you go about your day. (sorry, i had to say as most sites are soooooo picky and stuck on “dont use this ” or “dont do that” AND/OR “this product has been known in the state of CA to cause cancer….” you are an inspiration and have been blessed with a gift that many are greatful to you for sharing! That said, going in now to work on making “our lives sustainable” while doing it as “organically” as we possibly can! 🙂

    • Wow, Amy… I’m blushing! You say such nice things! I’m glad you are enjoying my blog. I have always wanted to post my honest opinions about things, so it’s really rare that I will ever endorse a product. That’s why I don’t have a bunch of ads at the side of my blog. My intent is to learn as much as I can about living a clean and simple life, and then pass on what I have learned to my readers, who include a lot of my family and friends. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I still struggle with a lot of things that I know I should be doing, such as never using plastic (I just can’t give up my Tupperware- not yet) and never, ever using pesticides in my garden or orchard. But we have a problem with borers up here and so we have made the choice of either spraying our orchard trees with a spray against borers (when the trees are dormant – no fruit or leaves) or losing our trees and having no fruit! Since we are trying to be as self-reliant as possible and we like to eat, the spray wins. I am so glad you won your battle with cancer. That means you are a strong person and I believe you have probably become stronger for it! Please feel free to comment any time you like, Amy!

  18. Thank you so much! I’ve been thinking there has to be a way to rebatch soap! My husband and I travel quite a bit, staying in hotels. I am frugal, so I absolutely refuse to throw away a soap bar even ever so tiny, after one use! And I know that the cost for those soaps (daily) in a hotel are imbedded in the cost of staying there, and that they would wastefully (is that a word!) be throwing them away after our use. So I travel with baggies! I take all of them home, used and unused. Have been collecting them in a box, (My husband no longer questions…lol). Now I’m so excited as I have plenty enough to give this a try! So, a BIG thank you from another penny pincher!!! I really appreciate your passing your knowledge and skills on! Thanks Vickie!! Peggy

    • You are so welcome! You know, when I showed my last batch of rebatched soaps to my son, he asked me “why don’t you just go to the store and buy some soap, rather than bother with all this?” I explained that I rebatched because I hate to throw away anything and why pay for soap when you can make it for free! Besides, I said, it’s fun! Nope. He still doesn’t get it. Oh well – at least WE do! Happy soaping!

  19. I tried melting the soap bits using the microwave. It looks like scrambled egg, and even adding extra water, it has still not melted. I have been playing about with the microwave at 1 min intervals at a 400 setting. It foams up like whipped egg white, but once I stir it, it goes back to “scrambled egg”. Help !!

    • Hmmm… so sorry Ann. I don’t know about rebatching soap with a microwave! It sounds like a good idea, but apparently it doesn’t work. I have a feeling however, that if you pour the scrambled eggs into a mold, it will harden just fine. No guarantees, but you never know! Let me know how this all worked out!

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