I felt that I should preface this post with a public health notice because I know that there are different types of frugal mindset, and while some go for the buy one, get one free, others are quite willing to explore the farthest reaches of soap recycling.
Which is where we are going today, so if a shiver of horror went down your spine at the words 'soap recycling', then please look away now. If, on the other hand, it was a shiver of excitement at the thought of a bit of cheeseparing (or, rather, soap paring, as you will see), then do stay with me.
|These cakes are not for eating|
How much you will save by recycling your soap depends, as with most thrifty hints, on how extravagant you have been in the first place. It is one of life's little ironies that the super-frugal have to be satisfied with saving pennies as their tight budget has already been slimmed down to the minimum, but the lucky old spendthrift can save lots more with much less effort.
My own first forays into soap recycling saved me lots of money - it started when I was given a set of Penhaligon's violet soap for Christmas many years ago. The bars came in a little set of drawers, and were really almost too nice to use, but I decided to prolong the experience of violet-scented soap by saving the soap ends and stretching them a little further. (The idea first came from reading The Penny Pincher's Book by John and Irma Mustoe, I think.)
So first catch your soap - every time a bar of soap gets down to the teeny-tiny bit which is too small to use, I let that little piece dry and pop it into a small jam jar. When the jar is full, I know it is time to get grating. Grate all those little pieces - thick or thin doesn't really matter.
Line a couple of ramekins (or any small container which you have to hand) with clingfilm (reused, of course).
|Press down and smooth|
Aim for about an inch, or a couple of centimetres, deep of dampened and packed down grated soap (these are quite shallow ramekins so I fill them half full). Finish off by pressing down firmly and smoothing the top and then put the containers in a warm place - I keep mine on the shelf above the Aga, but an airing cupboard would do.
Check after a day that it is all sticking together - you can add more soap if it is too wet, or a drop or two of water if it is too dry, but when you have made it once you will get a feel for the consistency.
After a couple of days you can peel off the clingfilm, and turn the bars up the other way to dry further. I leave it for a couple of weeks at least before using, checking and turning occasionally so that the soap completely dries out.
And hey presto! you have made two new bars of soap out of little pieces that would otherwise have been thrown away. Perhaps not quite up to the standard of Penhaligon's triple-milled, but that warm glow of frugality makes all the difference. And the more you spend on soap to start with, the more you will save - isn't that a fun thought?
This post is dedicated to those two Queens of Thrift, before whom I feel quite humble: Angela at Tracing Rainbows and Mrs Thrifty Household. Do visit them for a continuous stream of Thrifty Hints and Tips and ways to elasticize your budget.
And tell me, which are your favourite thrifty books? I am always on the lookout for books that will save you the cover price - I find it an infallible justification for the purchase.