Rescuing Soap Batches
Beginning soapers will be happy to hear there are quite a few ways to make use of a less-than-perfect batch of soap.
If you have an ugly, seized batch of cold-process soap or a grainy and spongy batch of hot-process, you can use the hand-milling techniques to transform it into usable soap. This is called rebatching. Don't rebatch soap that is lye-heavy, has pockets of liquid lye, or lye crystals. Dispose of those kinds of failures in a safe manner. If your “failed” batch is simply ugly or has a strange texture, you can grate it, melt it, and remake it into something useful.
Here's how: Grate the soap as directed for hand milling. Decide what color, scent, and texture materials you want to use. Depending on what is “off” about the batch, you can try to bring the batch to the color or scent you intended, or you could go off on a whole new tangent.
First, test your “failed” batch for mildness. Use litmus paper or phenolphthalein. If the soap is within the neutral range, it's safe to rebatch. If it isn't, prepare it for proper disposal at your local hazardous materials pickup.
Making Laundry Soap
Another great use for less-than-ideal soap is laundry soap. This is ideal for soap shreds as long as they don't have too high a super-fat content, which will get the clothes oily and funky-smelling. Keep them in a plastic pail and cover them with water. The soap will get gelatinous in a couple of days. It will probably be a funny gray color if you've combined a number of scraps from different colored batches.
Scoop about ∕ cup of this gel into the washer and add the water before the clothes. You can use this to boost your regular detergent, and you'll use less. A good rinse for clothes washed with this is made from plain white vinegar infused with citrus peel.
Another way to make laundry soap is to let the soap shreds dry completely and grind them into powder with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. They'll be brittle when they're ready. You can try your blender, but it may not work as well as the other ways. Store the soap powder in an airtight container and use ∕ cup or less per load. Experiment with how much you prefer. You can, of course, make laundry soap from start to finish, on purpose.
For a fragrant and reusable dryer sheet, make your own! Cut a white cotton terry hand towel into six equally sized pieces. Keep them by the dryer. Put about 10 drops of essential oil on a piece of the fabric when you want to use one. Simply toss into the dryer as you would a disposable sheet.
- 1 pound, 8 ounces water
- 12 ounces lye
- 4 pounds coconut oil
- 1 to 3 tablespoons essential oil or fragrance oil (optional)
Since you won't be using this soap on your hands, you can use an all-coconut, completely saponified recipe. You can add essential or fragrance oil if you like. You can even buy fragrance oil that smells like a famous detergent.
Make batch as usual.
Cut the block into small pieces and spread it out on a drying rack.
When those pieces are dry and firm, run them through the grater blade on your food processor.
Spread the shreds out to dry. When they are very brittle, whirl them ½ cup at a time in the bowl of the food processor, using the regular blade, to make a powder. (Don't process them too long or they'll compact back into a solid mass.)
Store the soap powder in an airtight container. with vinegar as needed.
Citrus-Vinegar Laundry Rinse
Fill a large glass jar with citrus peel.
Cover the peel with white vinegar and let it sit for at least 3 days.
Replace the peels after a few weeks, refilling with vinegar as needed.
Use ∕ to ½ cup per laundry load.