Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Using Bar Soap

In my other life, when I thought of bar soap, it was an icky, slimy mess in the shower.  Then I embarked upon the homesteading life.  When I acquired my first goat, Jenny, I began to wonder - what ELSE can I do with all this milk?  The idea first came to me while I was browsing through my old Reader's Digest "Back to Basics" book - SOAP!  I threw the idea out at a 4H meeting and was met with instant enthusiasm.  So began my journey into producing homemade soaps and skin care products.

Though I occasionally make a liquid soap, by far my favorite is still the goats milk bar - with lavender and tea tree, or rose oil, or chocolate fragrance.  To get the most enjoyment, use and longest life out of your bar soap, here are some tips to consider.

- keep it dry.

There are alot of pretty soap dishes available, but you don't want your bar to be sitting in a puddle of water.  It will melt into goo.  Make sure you dump the water out every time you use it (and train the kids to as well).  It also helps to elevate the soap slightly. 

- expose it to air.

Soap takes five weeks to cure after it's made.  It continues to cure until it's used up.  Curing ensures that saponification is complete and the soap is gentle (meaning it won't wash the paint off the barn!).  It also allows excess water to evaporate out of the soap, making for a harder, longer lasting bar.  Exposing it to air will not only help keep it dry, but allow it to continue curing, making it clean and lather better.

- use it all up.

What do you do with those skinny little soap chips at the end of the bar?  Let me count the ways:
- put them in a cotton, organza or other fabric "soap" bag and continue using until they're all gone.

- save in a quart jar and when it's full, put the chips in a saucepan, cover with water and boil until dissolved.  Pour into a square cake pan and let harden, then cut into new bars (never use soap pans for food preparation after making soap).  No curing needed - this is called "remilled" or "french milled" soap.
_ add a little extra water while soap chips are boiling to make a gel and pour into an empty gallon jug and use for laundry soap.
_ my favorite:  put soap chips in and old (clean) sock, then get it soaking wet and clean the soap scum off the sink and tub - works much better than any cleanser I've tried.

So if you've been using a liquid pump soap, complete with unrecognizable and synthetic chemical ingredients, why not give old-fashioned bar soap another try?  And if you're already a convert, try some of these tips to get more mileage out of Mrs. D's great soap! 

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