Monday, September 8, 2008

Lazy Day Soapmaking

At one point in time I had a cross stitch sampler hanging in my home that said, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without." That was our mantra when I was a stay-at-home mom and we were living on one salary.

All this talk of vacations reminded me that it was time for me to engage in what I call lazy soap making. It's easy. It doesn't involve buying anything, chemicals or special ingredients. You're only required to tuck those sample size hotel soaps into your suitcase when you're traveling. The Farmer brings them home all the time when he's traveling on business.

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I just throw them all into a drawer in the bathroom until I collect a dozen or so. Gather them all together, rip off the paper wrappings. Don't worry about whether they are body bars, facial bars because we're going to mush it all together. Usually these soaps are scented mildly so in this case it won't turn into the battle of the scents.

Get a large plastic or glass bowl and your kitchen grater. Don't worry, we'll pop it into the dishwasher when we're finished and it will be sparkling clean.

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Start grating the bars, one by one. I use this side of the grater. The idea is to break the soap up into small pieces, not necessarily into a powder consistency. Keep grating until you're finished. It's good if some of the bars are a different color because it creates a cool effect when it's all done.

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You'll end up with a mixture that looks like this:

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I transferred it into a large bowl so that it would be easier to mix. At this point I threw in a handful of instant oatmeal because I'm intending to give this batch as small gifts. The oatmeal makes the soap slightly abrasive, which is perfect for gardeners.

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At this point I lightly oil a muffin tin to use as a mold. These make a nice sized round bar of soap. Put the prepared muffin tin aside.

Sprinkle the soap mixture with water. You're not going to need a lot, just enough to moisten the mixture. Mix lightly with a spoon and put into the microwave. Microwave on high in one minute increments until the soap mixture expands, bubbling up. If it seems dry, add a little more water. When it expands and is hot and bubbly, remove from the microwave and stir.

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Be careful because the mixture is very hot. Spoon the soap mixture into the muffin tin, using a spatula to smooth it out.

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Set aside to cool and set. I let it stand for a few days before unmolding. This way the excess moisture will evaporate and the bars will be solid.

Be sure that your family realizes it's soap and not white chocolate with nuts!!! Otherwise they might get what I call the Lifebuoy Surprise!!

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I wrap the soap up in plastic wrap and decorative paper and tie with a jute bow.

And now you know what to do with those hotel soaps!!!

36 comments:

Simple Answer said...

What about the scent? Does the melange of smells end up okay? (I have a smell thing. Just yet another oddity that makes me me.)

Cote de Texas said...

what a great idea!!!! thanks!

Suzanne said...

SA- The scent is not a big problem. Most of these small hotel soaps have a mild scent. I sniff them first and leave out any strong "deoderant" type bars.

Joni - The first time I made these I felt a little silly grating all the small soaps. I think one of my kids asked me if we were in financial trouble. HA!!

Mary said...

Terrific idea, Suzanne. I'll bet you could add some essential oils if you wanted a certain fragrance...
xoxo,
Mary

Donna said...

Brilliant! Even a non-crafty gal like myself could handle grating soap (stitching together an apron - not so much). I'm going to try it and let you know if it works out. But first - gotta go dig up those old soap bars...

Thirkellgirl said...

I have that same sampler! I made it using odds and ends of embroidery floss and a pattern from a BH&G magazine (back in our own single-income/broke phase of married life)!

Living on the Spit said...

What an awesome idea...I will definitely use this post. We use to make soaps for the teachers out of Ivory Snow powder, floral ois, and food coloring...awesome post.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Very clever way to use up those soaps that you must have so many of with all the Farmer's travels. I actually have a lot of unused bars of soap that I have no intention of using...the gels and liquid soaps being so much easier all the way around. Now I'm wondering what would happen if...

Heidi said...

I can smell it from here!! LOL That looks like a wonderful idea. I wonder if you could add some scent to it with esential oils - alomond... my sister in law makes homemade soap and its to DIE FOR!! my favorite is honey oatmeal almond. I will send you some!

busha2 said...

Suzanne,

Thanks for the great idea.

I enjoy reading your blog daily, I am new to this arena. I am a neighbor of yours so to speak, I live in Wisconsin.

I recently read your blog pertaining to berries, and you provided a recipe for Berry Clafouti, I made the clafouti this weekend, but w/blackberries, it was outstanding. Thanks so much, just thought you would like to know.

belladella said...

That is a great idea! I have a whole drawer of those little hotel soaps. I am definitely going to try this. Love it! Have a great day!

Rambling Girl said...

Oh how cool. Never thought of this but will try it out now. Thanks for the info!

Cindy L said...

You are the Queen of Clever, I swear!

As an aside, back when I was editor of a magazine for country inns and B&Bs, several innkeepers I interviewed told me one of their pet peeves was guests who "stole" the extra bars of soap. I suppose that would be an expense to owners of small inns -- but I doubt it makes a difference to major hotel chains. I've taken home many a small bar of soap -- they were handy for my son's camping trips and such.

Karen said...

Great idea!!! Thanks, Suzanne. :-)

I'm thinking it would also be a great way of using up all those slivers of soap that one ends up with. I'm going to start collecting them...

Jill said...

What a great idea! But where's my finished product photo? I want to see what it looks like when it's done.

It's late, did you show it and I missed it?

Louise said...

Shoot! Something else to save! But I love this. So simple, and what a GREAT tutorial!

woolanthropy said...

What a cool idea. Do you think you can heat it on the stove top if you don't have a microwave?

StitchinByTheLake said...

Thanks Suzanne - this is one I'll be trying. blessings, marlene

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

You call a day of soapmaking a lazy day?!
Will you move in with me? I need summa your umph!

bj said...

FABULOUS IDEA !!
love, bj

Allena said...

wow so smart! i'm so going to have to do this.

Amanda said...

Brilliant! My hubby doesn't travel and we have an RV, so we tend not to collect those, but I still could use the idea with Ivory and some oatmeal! Thanks again :) BTW, found your link on tipnut.com :)

gypsyjolie said...

I made your soap today, so it's still drying - but what a great idea! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

mommafry said...

Great tip! I was wondering if there was some way to add lotion or something to the mixture. My skin and my daughter's sometimes get "itchy" after using hotel soaps. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, my last attempt at melting soaps was a disater! Im going to make bell shaped soaps on rope with your idea and finish them with gold non-toxic glitter and holly for xmas stocking fillers!

Jenni said...

What a great idea!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but i wanted to thank you for the fantastic idea. I just made several dozen fancy soaps for gifts using your instructions and some candy molds! You can also use just a bit of food color to tint your soap, add it as the same time as the water, and stir before heating. (I only had white bars to start with.)

Thank you!

Valerie said...

My boyfriend travels a lot for work and we have acquired a huge trash bag FULL of these hotel soaps, guess what everyone i know will be getting as gifts for years to come!!

c said...

I tried this recipe. The grated chips did not melt properly. I used a square pan and cut the soap into bars. The bottom is smooth but the top is lumpy. I am a bit disappointed in the looks. I haven't tried it yet.

Did I do something wrong?

C

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cheryl said...

I've made this soap a few times now. I save all my 'slivers' of soap in a small container under my bathroom sink, and when it's full, I make the soap.

One thing I've noticed about this 'recycled soap', is that it lasts alot longer the 2nd time around. My son mentioned that to me too. It may not be pretty, but it works great!

Anonymous said...

Awesome idea! I had more than 24 bars,so I made a dozen muffin bars :)

Anonymous said...

This is great! My fiancé and I have tons of little soaps from spending three years in a long distance relationship and meeting each other in different spots! Now that we're getting married, we're going to use this recipe to make our wedding favors! I'm so happy I found your tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I tried this and it was a total failure. The melange of scents was horrible. I was so disappointed. If I do it again, I will make sure I don't add any with a strong or unpleasant scent because, together, they the whole batch. (And I'm not that fussy & I don't have any issues with odors, but it was not "giftable" and even I couldn't use it just to be thrifty.)

Anonymous said...

If it is a disappointment, buy the soap bars you want from a store. A lot of the single ones have lots of glycerin in them so they will not dry your skin out so much. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I have collected soap since high school (10 1/2 yrs ago) not actively, just cute high end ones. Along the way I have gotten some duplicates or weird flavors I didn't want. So glad I found this on Pinterest! Tried a doyble boiler method first bud my soap gratings weren't melting. 30 secs, mix, 30 secs in the microwave and done! Used citrus soaps & dried green tea (hey why not save and reuse those tea bags?) Into my mini-loaf pan they went! Made today and using for my homemade xmas this year. Next try is Chamomille (more tea to repurpose)& rose soap. Thank you crafty woman!
-FrauLara