Recently, I’ve read lots of articles about how “bars of soap are cheaper and greener than bottles of wash,” and, more worrisome, “the BPA in your plastic bottles will kill you.” I’m not entirely sold on the BPA-is-evil campaign, but, well, they do have a bit of a point. And an argument that involves my wallet? Well, I decided to try bar soap. It comes in a friendly paperboard box that I can reuse. And it definitely is cheaper than a bottle of wash. You’ll see at the end of this whether it lasts longer.
So anyway, I bought a bar of soap (actually two bars). I got a little box for it so it didn’t get all mushy in the shower. It didn’t fit in well with my shower routine. Hard to get the soap onto my pouf. Guess I’m just too ingrained in the liquid wash thing.
But I didn’t stop there, oh no. No way did I buy two bars of soap just to let them go to waste. I did a little poking around on the internet. I didn’t exactly find what I was looking for – a recipe telling me exactly how to turn this solid bar of soap into some liquid body wash – but I found enough articles and posts close enough that I felt confident to get to it.
I grated up the soap first, the exact same way I did for my laundry soap. I grated it directly into a pot. I also decided to go ahead and do both bars of soap at one time, because why not.
Then I added 2 cups of water to the soap flakes and turned on the heat. I stirred it a bit with a whisk, which I definitely WOULD NOT do again. If you decide to follow in my footsteps (and I highly suggest you do), DON’T STIR. Just let it melt.
It’ll only take, like, 30 seconds for the soap to melt. Turn off the heat and let it cool a bit. Assemble a collection of bottles for your new wash. Glass is the obvious choice if you’re wanting to avoid BPA. You could also recycle your old squeezable wash bottles, if you like. Use a funnel and a ladle to get your warm soap into the bottles. Voila! You’re done!
…Oh, I forgot to mention, I made a bit of a mistake.
I didn’t add enough water to the soap. As it cooled, it solidified into a foam. This would probably be excellent if it was in a squeezy jar, but I’ve never yet found squeezable glass jars. So now I had 3 jars of soap that I couldn’t get out! Crap. I planted them in a big pot, surrounded them with water, and started heating. I needed to soften the soap up again so I could get it out.
It took a few minutes, but it softened right up. I poured my too-thick wash into the saucepan again. I rinsed out each bottle with water to get all the soap, and added a lot of water. Maybe too much. I didn’t measure, so I can’t tell you an exact amount, but I’d definitely say it was at least 2 more cups. The soap mixture was approximately the consistency of low-fat milk – not entirely watery, but pretty dang close.
I warmed it up again and stirred it again (should not have done that). I got the funnel and ladle again, and a couple more glass bottles, and filled them all up. As you can see, I have a lot of bottles of body wash now. The foamy bubbly part at the top is why I shouldn’t have stirred. It did settle eventually. That lonely bottle with only a bit in it got poured into one of the other bottles, giving me 3 Snapple bottles and one giant orange juice bottle full of body wash.
I’ve been using it ever since I made it and I like it. I started with a Dove bar with pomegranate and lemon verbena (and 1/4 moisturizing cream), and was surprised to discover that the scent and color didn’t get diluted much. It has a delicate fresh and slightly flowery scent, that actually lingers on my skin for a little while (most washes don’t do that on me). You can, of course, choose any soap your little heart desires. I just put the bottle on my shower shelf and leave the cap off (so I don’t have to twist it off with wet hands). It has thickened up since it was made, partly from cooling and partly, I think, from evaporating into the air. It’s now approximately the consistency of cream, which is exactly what I wanted!
When these bottles of soap run out
in a hundred years, I think I’m going to get even braver. I’ll buy some plain Castile soap and add my own scents!
One more thing. You know how Snapple has those “Real Facts” printed on the inside of their lids? One of the bottles I used for this project says “The average bar of soap lasts twice as long as a bottle of body wash.” I kid you not; I couldn’t even make up a coincidence like that. This definitely seems to be a great way to save some money.
A similar soap (just a different scent) sells on Drugstore.com for $4.19 for 2 bars. I think I paid less than that, probably in the 2 to 3 dollar range.
The “matching” body wash sells on Drugstore.com for 8.99 for 24 ounces. As you can clearly see, I got more than TRIPLE that volume from my two bars of soap, saving me something like 20$. With coupons or sales, you can probably do even better!
Are you worried about the cost of cleanliness, or the perils of plastic packaging? Have you thought about making your own cleaning products, and have you actually done it? How did it go for you? Have I inspired you to try it? It’s okay to mess up and try again!