Everyone knows the feeling… you have a lovely, new bar of soap, a joy to use, but it fast deteriorates into a little scrap of soap that doesn’t lather, breaks when you use it, and slips through your fingers to sit mockingly on the shower floor- or, worse still, sets to the floor of the shower so you have to prize it off with your fingernails.
So, what do you do with the soap scraps? You can:
1) Throw them away- neither ecologically sound nor good for the budget
2) Put them by the hand basin and hope people will feel they have to use them up – unlikely, they’ll probably just sit there and dry up and look yuk while everyone avoids them
3) Save them in a container until you have a cupful, then boil them up with water in an old saucepan, mush them into goop and use it to wash your clothes – practical, but messy and not much fun
4) Put them in an old-fashioned “soap saver” (a little wire basket with a handle; you put soap inside, close it up, and agitate it under a running hot tap) to wash your dishes- but it leaves soap scum on your dishes, and where would you find a soap saver these days?
5) Put them in the cut-off leg of a stocking/pantyhose and tie to your outdoor tap for washing hands after gardening- this works with bigger bits, but scraps dry out/break up/ don’t lather
6) Leave them in the soap rack where they will fall out, or in the soap dish to go mushy/mouldy, and pretend it’s someone else’s problem- yuk (it become’s everyone’s problem)
7) Leave them in the bottom of the shower to stick on like limpets while they slowly get melted away/go mouldy/cause someone to slip and bang their head/break the shower screen etc – don’t say I didn’t warn you
8) Leave one on the kitchen sink for the mice to take - I kid you not, this happened (one day there were little teeth marks in the soap; the next morning it was gone!)
or – ta-dah!
9) Mold the scraps onto a new bar of soap, and experience the constant joy of a decent-sized piece of soap to use, whilst basking in the self-righteous glow of someone who isn’t making any mess or wasting a thing! If this is your preferred option, read on…
Step 1: Soften Old and New Soap
Get your scrap and your new bar* of soap, and leave them both on a damp sponge (or folded washcloth) for a few hours, until the bottom side of both pieces is softened.
Soap which has an indentation in the side works best, but a more rounded cake of soap works fine, too- just make sure it’s softened enough to work with as in the next step.
* It's easier if the new soap has been used a few times to wear down the edges and soften a bit- see the second example (white/white). I's also easier if you use your scrap before it dries out too much and hardens.
Note- I've shown a white scrap on green soap so it's clearer, but it looks much better with the same colour- e.g. white on white!
Step 2: Score Some Lines for a "key"
With your fingernail, score criss-cross lines in the softened side of both pieces to make a “key” to help them mesh together. If your pieces are soft, you won't need to score so many lines.
If the new bar has an indentation, make sure your scoring goes up the sides of the indentation.
Step 3: Press Together
Push the two softened, scored sides together with a slightly rotating motion, to bond them together.
Step 4: Score Around the Edges
Score some more little lines radiating out along the sides of the scrap, so that the edges bond to the new soap, and don’t dry out and lift.
Step 5: Smooth Over
Smooth over your scored lines if you like, to make it look nicer, but they wash way when you use the soap.
Step 6: Use It!
And there you have it- an even bigger than usual new cake of soap, which will never end up as a sad little unwanted scrap… as soon as it wears down to a too-small piece, you just repeat the process and bond it onto a new bar of soap!
You probably won't want to put out the conglomerate soap on your hand basin when you have guests you want to impress, but it will be fine for family use in the shower.
Bonus - use the sponge or cloth that you soaked the soap on to wipe down your bathroom mirror; the soap on the sponge will make the mirror slippery, and it won’t fog up when you have a shower!