Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Make Soap (And Candles) From Leftover Bits

Soap

Those last bits of soap which are too small/broken/soft to use? Throw them in a tub you keep under the sink. Once you have enough of them it is time to get creative.

Old bits of soap, collected over a year or so.
They'll probably still be soft, since the tub will keep a bit of moisture in.

Break them up a bit and throw them into a non-stick pan.
We have an old pan we just use for things like this.


Melt on minimal heat. Add a few tablespoons of water if
the bits are very hard, or you want a softer soap.

When the (now thick liquid) soap is cooling you can add extras
e.g. essential oils, food essences, food colouring. Even add some oatmeal
if you want a mildly abrasive soap (or sand for a very abrasive one!).

Once it is cool enough and firming up you can shape the soap into bars
by hand then store in greaseproof paper or tinfoil. Or pour it into
a mould of some kind while it is still hot and liquid. As you can see above,
we make cupcake soap! Just peel the paper away when you need a new soap.
They make nice gifts, and you can personalise them with scents or decoration. 

It's best to clean the pan and utensils immediately -
hot water and a cloth will do the trick.

Candles

You can do a similar thing with old candle wax.

Keep bits from broken candles, candle stubs and so on.
Add them to the pan when you have enough.

Melt on the lowest heat. It only takes a few minutes
until you have fully liquid wax.
Again, as it cools you could add essential oils or scents.

There are various moulds you can use. We cut the top off an old water bottle.

For the wick: punch or drill a hole in the bottle's bottom,
as close to the centre as possible. 
Ideally use proper candle wick (which can be bought in various places); 
or experiment with thick braided string. 
For the latter thread it through the hole and tie a double knot to keep it in place. 

You'll end up with something like this.
Stand the bottle on some old paper or foil
(the few drops that leak through the bottle's hole will quickly harden and plug it).

Pour in the liquid wax. A bit of sticky tape and a pencil
across the top will keep the wick central.

Wait for a few hours as the wax hardens.


Cut the top of the bottle with scissors then peel it away
(before putting it in the recycling).

Voila!
You could also just set the wax in an old cupglass or jar,
in which case there's no need to remove the outer layer.

Handy ways to re-use old bits and make something new, possibly as gifts. Good projects to do with children as a way of educating them about reuse. Do you have any other ideas for projects like this?

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