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.
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.
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…
First, 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 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.
Next, 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!
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.
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.
Let 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
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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