Mittwoch, 30. Oktober 2013

Liquid recycled soap

Last week I finally got round to a recycling project, I had planned for a while.

A couple of years ago I switched to using solid soaps (even solid shampoo) in an effort to bring down my carbon footprint. The argument was that when buying liquid soap mainly water gets moved around. I never knew exactly just how much water liquid soap actually contains, but I thought that it must be a lot.

Sadly I could not convince my family of this advantage. So we still have lots of liquid soap bottles, which my husband buys at a discounter and the packaging ends up in the recycling bin. I am not happy with this.

On the other hand we still have a good collection of little soaps, which we brought back from hotels in the distant past...

When I stumbled across Sara Tetreault's recipe for liquid soap I decided to recycle those bits of old solid soap into new liquid soap to keep my family happy and my environmental conscience clean.

So I slightly adapted Sara's great recipe to:

  • 70 g of shredded solid soap (use a cheese grater to shred it)
  • 1 Tbsp of glycerine (from our local drug store; can also be used for soap bubble mix)
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 5 drops of an aromatic oil ("Millefiori"), which I once got as a freebie with some cosmetics
  • 2 litres of tap water
According to Sara's recipe, I shredded the soap and dissolved it with a few cups of water in a sauce pan at a medium temperature together with the glycerin and olive oil. It took about 10 minutes until all the soap flakes had dissolved (careful not to let the mix boil). I then stirred in the aromatic oil and the remaining water and let the mix cool slightly.

It had turned into a milky liquid with a very pleasant flowery smell. Before the liquid cooled completely, I poured it into bottles for storage.

Still very sceptical about the outcome of this experiment, I let the soap cool and set overnight. The next day the liquid had turned into a kind of a gel and I thought something had gone terribly wrong. But after shaking the bottles vigorously for a bit, the liquid soap ended up with exactly the right consistency. I was amazed that this little amount of soap, glycerine and oil can give water such a completely differrent consistency!

In the end I filled my new liquid soap  into a soap dispenser which I had recycled earlier and put it straight into our bathroom.

Evaluation of the results (sounds very scientific, doesn't it?):
  • Easy and fun to do
  • Very frugal (cost me a few cents for 2 litres of liquid soap)
  • Taught me that about 95% of liquid soap is actually water, which I now get out of our tap instead of having it shipped all over the place in a disposable soap container
  • None of my family have noticed the difference!
Now the soap still needs to pass the test of time, but I am confident that it will last. If not I will keep you posted. And I am looking forward to making my next batch soon - maybe for Christmas presents...

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013

Dishwashing cloths

Off course the main reason for my recycling efforts is to safe the planet ;)

But there is also the need in me to surround myself with beautiful things. This need is easily fulfilled by going out to buy more beautiful stuff, but I am trying to increasingly turn to making beautiful objects, preferably out of things I already own.

One example are these dishcloths I made today. They are knitted from left-over wool (so not exactly "recycled"). The industrially produced spongy things we normally use get thrown into the wash and last a very long time. So not a lot of planet gets saved by knitting my own.

On the other hand, they look and feel so much better. And isn't this aesthetic advantage an important reward for a lot of our efforts? Isn't it better to be motivated by beauty than by guilt?

Have you made any simple objects recently, which have given you this kind of aesthetic reward?