Introduction: Reforming Soap Scraps

Picture of Reforming Soap Scraps

Many people buy bar soap in bulk, but the money you save often gets tossed when you stop using the scraps. Everyone does it. I got sick of throwing money in the trash and decided to start saving the scraps of bar soap. I melt them down once a quarter or so in a small saucepan and form a few new bars of 'mystery soap' that I then use just like normal soap. Beats ending up in a landfill. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: Collect the Soap

Picture of Collect the Soap

Save the soap scraps. I toss them into a drawer in my bathroom and wait until I have about 20 slivers of soap scraps. Personally, I use Ivory and Irish Spring, but you'll also find some Lava scraps in there too. Your preferences may vary, and you may want to separate them out if you're looking for consistency in the bars you make. Me, I don't really care.

Step 2: Break the Soap Slivers Into Small Chunks, Add Water

Picture of Break the Soap Slivers Into Small Chunks, Add Water

Break them into small pieces, about the size of a quarter, and then add about enough water to be visible at the level that the soap slivers are at. Turn on the burner to medium heat.

Step 3: Boil, Gently

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Avoid boilovers, but simmer for a few minutes. The goal here is to get the water and the soap hot enough that they begin to stick together. They will, trust me. Stir often.

Step 4: Pour Into a Steel Colander

Picture of Pour Into a Steel Colander

I put a frying pan underneath the colander so that the soap dribblings are captured and not wasted. Use a wooden spoon to push the soap mess around the colander so that the majority of the excess water is drained. You're trying to get a molten soapy glob, basically.

Step 5: Grease Two Small Glass Bowls

Picture of Grease Two Small Glass Bowls

This makes it much easier to extract the soap 'bars' afterwards. Continue to let the soap mess cool and drain for a few minutes.

Step 6: Form Bars in the Bowls

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Using a spoon, gather half the warm soap matter from the colander and stuff into a bowl. Repeat with other greased bowls as needed.  I dump the captured soap dribblings from the frying pan into one of the bowls that needs more soap matter - this one usually ends up being the 'fluffiest' soap. Clean up (this part takes the longest, in my experience), and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 7: Liberate the Soap From Bowls

Picture of Liberate the Soap From Bowls

Use a steak knife - slip it between the cooled soap matter and the glass bowl - it should pop right out with a little twisting. Use the recycled soap immediately or store it for the next time you (or mankind) runs out of soap.

Comments

lorri.a.adams (author)2015-04-19

I just stick the used bar to a new bar of soap once it gets too small to use, no waste, no mess, no problem.

EmilieL (author)lorri.a.adams2017-09-19

I've tried sticking old small bars to a new soap and it doesn't stick too well for me.

DawnB135 (author)lorri.a.adams2017-03-06

for those saying you just stick the old soaps to a new bar ....... get that we aren't stupid , but this is something people like to do when they want to mix a bunch of different ones together to create a very great smelling kick a** soap , especially when your scraps consist of so many variations like deodorant soap , glycerin bars , soaps with moisturizer (oil of olay) , samples from hotels or department stores .....so many that when put together can turn out to be an amazing bar of soap!!

Exactly what I do, Lorri! No fuss no muss!

dchall8 (author)2012-04-22

I use a microfine grater (zester) to make soap dust. Then all you have to do is add a slight amount of water to the dust, stir it up, and put it into the mold. No heating involved.

Itz Just Me (author)dchall82017-07-20

I really like this idea....now do you have a recommendation on the grater to use?

dchall8 (author)Itz Just Me2017-07-21

Back in 2007 the MicroPlane brand was the only one that had a zesting quality blade. I believe there are others now. Look for the finest grater you can get at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

greenlite350 (author)dchall82017-07-31

If you have or can get a meat grinder it works super well to grind the soap ends into powder. I have a manual one with a crank that I'd recommend over an electric one - more control and easier to clean since it completely disassembles. Thanks for the tip about powdering the ends!

heathbar64 (author)2012-06-01

I've often wondered if you could remold soap. I was thinking of molding it in a mold with a custom family crest or something.
If you just want to avoid wasting the soap, why not just put a few pieces in a cloth bag and use it to wash with?

Itz Just Me (author)heathbar642017-07-20

You might consider getting the design of the crest and talking to someone with a 3D printer? I'm sure they could incorporate your design and make the mold(s) the size and shape you want too. :)

ozzieBoy2 (author)2017-03-16

Any suggestions on what I can do to make store-bought soap bars less caustic? We bought a case of Costco's Kirkland bath bars and the soap is so strong that no one in the family wants to use it. I still have twelve 4.5 oz. bars and don't want to waste them.

Itz Just Me (author)ozzieBoy22017-07-20

If you can't find a way to donate them you can always return anything to Costco, they have satisfactiion guarantee! :)

KeneeL (author)ozzieBoy22017-05-24

Donate them! There must be someplace near you - shelter, charity, etc - that needs strong soap!

RandyD8 (author)2015-08-31

This works great! It made five times the amount of soap I had in scraps. I would like to offer some advice though: Do not put your soap caked pots and utensils in the dishwasher. I came back to a kitchen full of water and soap suds.—Dope!

DawnB135 (author)RandyD82017-03-06

Lol

jeanne.allie (author)2015-01-13

I've enjoyed all the comments! I've been remolding soap from scraps for years, and just now got to thinking of adding a little coconut oil to the mix. I do the double-boiler method, as some have mentioned, and the shaving into small pieces, as another said. I love to add a little essential peppermint oil. Had a Burt's Bees shampoo bar once that was really fun for shaving small bits into the mix, and gave a wonderful scent. As for molds, my favorite right now is cutting off the bottom of small yogurt containers. The soap cures in these for about a month. Makes adorable little soaps, perfect for next to the sink where lots of hand-washing is done. As for the soap, we use Ivory, then there might be small amounts of other soaps thrown in. Such a satisfying little project!

DawnB135 (author)jeanne.allie2017-03-06

so true ....others don't get why we don't just stick the scrap soap to the new bar? Well if your like a who is always using something new or different and loves samples what better way to create a rich rewarding smelling bar of soap that's going to smell crazy good!!

marishka.noyb (author)2015-02-11

you can do this remelt thing with deoderant and candles too

DawnB135 (author)marishka.noyb2017-03-06

thanks for the ideas .....heard of candles which is another thing I'm saving as well but not deodorant!! Cool!

EdwardH4 (author)marishka.noyb2015-03-03

deodorant works well -- easier to melt too! Though I double boil it .

MichaelT96 (author)2015-10-08

I tried making the soap this way and my soap all melted down to a thick paste. I poured it into the molds and let them set overnight in the fridge. I thought they looked pretty good but when I showered with one of the bars it got kind of mushy in my hand. What did I do wrong? Should I follow my friends advice and add bees wax to it? Please help.

Muzhik (author)MichaelT962016-04-07

See my above reply to Nolene.Lambert. By melting the soap, mixing, and letting it cool, you're making a type of "French Milled Soap". DON'T set it in the fridge. Let it cool overnight on the counter or in a closet. After you take it out of the mold, let it air dry for a couple of weeks in a cool dark place. This is curing the soap, but not in the way soap you make with fat and lye have to cure. In that case, you're waiting for all the lye to react with all the fat and make soap. In this case, you're waiting for all the water that got added during the melting phase to evaporate out.

You can get better results by using a double-boiler, or if you don't have one, put a smaller pot inside a larger pot. Fill the bottom pot with water, start heating, and make sure it doesn't boil dry. Put the soap pieces in the top pot with no more than a tablespoon or two of water. They don't need to be broken up but will melt faster if you do. Put the lid on the top part and wait, stirring the soap every once in a while. When all the soap is melted, turn off the heat and take off the lid to let the water evaporate out of the soap. After a few minutes, pour the soap into the molds and put in a cool dry space overnight to harden. Afterward, let it cure for a couple of weeks. You'll have homemade French Milled Soap, nice and hard that will last and last!

DawnB135 (author)Muzhik2017-03-06

thank you muzhik for all your very helpful and lengthy descriptive instructions!! Your awesome!

mah1949 (author)Muzhik2016-09-01

very helpful, thanks

JasonB514 (author)2017-03-02

How do you get the pubes out of the soap?

regeharves (author)2016-04-10

I tried melting velvet laundry soap in a pan on the weekend but it went black and turned into what looked almost like oil? i'd like to melt and reset into different sized moulds - can anyone advise what i'm doing wrong? Thanks:)

Muzhik (author)regeharves2016-09-01

This is laundry soap? The dry powdered kind? Chances are this isn't soap but detergent. Soap comes from mixing lye and fat or oil. Detergents are chemicals that are designed not only to clean clothing but to dissolve in water quickly to make washing clothes easier.

Pinar ElcinM (author)2016-08-30

Hello,

do you remove soaps from the mold after overnight or do you let them rest in the mold for 4 weeks?

best

Muzhik (author)Pinar ElcinM2016-09-01

Remove them from the mold after overnight, then put them in a cool dry place to cure. I use a cake rack on the top shelf of a closet so there's space for the air to circulate around the bars.

Also, I like experimenting with different containers as molds. I've found a local store brand of yogurt, short with a wide mouth, makes an excellent mold. It holds about 4oz of soap and fits very well in my hand.

nolene.lambert (author)2016-03-29

This is great! I tried making usable soap from my scraps, but wasn't sure exactly what to do. After seeing this, I was totally on the right track. So cool.

Except, I put it in a old plastic wipe box and tried to cut bars. That didn't works so well. It crumbled. But I'll bet if I heat it up longer and put in individual containers, it'll be perfect. Thank you!

Muzhik (author)nolene.lambert2016-04-07

I'll bet that it crumbled because you tried to cut it as soon as you took it out of the mold. Instead, put it someplace cool and dry where air can circulate around it. I use the top shelf of a closet with soap on a cake rack. Leave it there for AT LEAST two weeks -- four is better. That gives the soap time to "cure" and become harder. Afterward, use your sharpest knife to cut, like a cleaver, or use something like an old electric guitar string to cut the soap. Because you let it cure and harden, it will last a lot longer.

tonygoffe (author)2013-03-08


...NOW...if someone could just do an Instructable on "How to make a Soap Mold/Press" ..we'd be in Heaven !!!!!!! (with a Family Crest, of course !!!!! )

StarrF (author)tonygoffe2015-11-17

You know those travel soap dispensers? The plastic ones with the lid, just enough to hold one bar of soap? You could always use that as a mold, but I'm thinking maybe also apply a small layer of olive oil or something, to help prevent sticking. That way it would be more of a soap shape, instead of bowl shape. As far as the family crest goes, you're on your own. lol. But I'm sure if you really, really wanted one, you could do a Google search or something to see if you could special order something like that. Good luck!

jvance2 (author)2015-05-01

Since these soaps are not using lye anywhere in the recipe, they should not need to cure like Cold Processsed soap does, correct?

animomne (author)jvance22015-09-01

Lye is used in the process of making the soap to begin with. This is just melting down the already cured soap and changing its shape, so no, it does not need to cure.

Lozchik (author)2015-06-13

Just tried this out today. What I did was a little different. I melted the soap in a smaller pot set in a larger pot of water double boiler style so I could use less water in the soap mixture and avoid it boiling over. Can't wait to see how they turn out in the morning.

dubbie99 (author)2015-04-20

joanne.schrock.7 (author)2015-04-19

Great idea! What I do is just "squish" the sliver into the new bar and wash as I always do. It may take a shower or two for the sliver to become a part of the new bar, but there is no waste at all and no cooking!

debbie.boydmcdaniel (author)2015-04-19

My daughter and I started doing this last year sometime, but instead of bowls, we use Jello molds or seasonal silicon baking molds. Then, they are given out as gifts throughout the year!

LuigiL1 (author)2015-03-17

I have been thinking about making my own soap for years, and have maybe a dozen baggies with scrap soap in them! This has inspired me to move forward and get this done!

roulopa (author)2012-04-18

You could add olive oil, honey, condensed milk and double the amount of soap.

Creak (author)roulopa2015-03-08

That just sounds like a mess. creating soap requires a chemical reaction. What you are doing would just decrease the amount of lather you'd get from it

joy.taylor.167527 (author)2015-02-01

I really hate that my husband won't use more of the soap than what's pictured below so I used this method but I modified it (I only use body wash). I kept adding water so all the soap had time to melt and I used an empty bottle of body wash to pour the liquefied soap into and I'm making my husband use the new concoction as body wash. And from now on I'm only buying body wash for us both!

Stavros! (author)2015-01-11

Another idea, get a qt. crock pot, throw your slivers in there, cover with water, and let sit for a couple months. Add slivers when you get them, but keep the water level up. When you get it 2/3's full, mash it, or mix it if you wish. Or just cook the water out. Result is a large multi colored (if you use more than one type of soap) cake shaped bar of soap that you can then cut into whatever shape you like.

threeoutside (author)2014-12-16

How could I get to be this old and not know you can do this? I get so tired of fiddling with soap slivers! Thanks for the great Instructable! Also, Muzhik's tip is much appreciated.

nancam (author)2013-12-30

Thanks for making this Instructable. I just used it to take some shaving soap and re-form it into a bar.

I recently got into straight razor shaves, and bought some "scraps" of shaving soap from a local artisan (half price and all that). I used a cheap plastic soap bar travel holder as my base form.

In a couple of weeks, I hope the re-formed soap lathers up nicely!

jarikcbol (author)nancam2014-07-26

look at my post above, shave soap lathers just fine if you double boiler melt it instead of mixing it with water. I've been doing it for ages! (I melt it down so it fills its lathering cup entirely, so it stays put, which lets me work a better lather with the brush that way also)

nancam (author)jarikcbol2014-07-26

I will try that. The first batch worked well enough, and conformed nicely to the plastic dish. The only downside seems to be that the lather 'disappears' rather fast i.e. the lather goes on and then just isn't there after a few minutes. So I do half my face, then lather the other half and repeat.

Originally I did about half the scraps I got, so with double boiling/melting we will see if it improves the lather's sustainability. In the meantime I took an intro pottery class and made a lathering cup just for this purpose. Painted barber pole stripes on it and everything. Stay tuned ...

mofoya (author)2012-04-17

when I open a new bar I just get it and the old sliver wet while I'm in the shower and squeeze the sliver onto the new bar... after a couple of showers they fuse together permanently. No heating, no mess, no waste... I can see using this method if you have a lot of waste pieces though; or want to mix scents or something.

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