Using Up Soap Waste

Question:

Even with the very precise equipment there is waste from the ready soap. Would you have a solution to use the little chips and cuts of soap? Could we somehow use the waste? May be you have this kind of inquiry from other manufacturers too?

We would be too happy to have your advice on this issue.

Answer:

We encountered the same problem with waste. Even though we kept careful notes and tried to adjust our batch size to the least amount of waste, there was always some left.

We used several methods. One was to make balls of soap. Within a day of cutting the soap we would take the scraps and a small scale and weigh out piles of soap to a specific weights. I our case it was 4 oz (113gr). We would then work the soap as you would dough until it was soft enough to roll into balls. We then would cure it as normal. We sold these to retailers as Victorian Soap Balls. Actually, at the turn of the 19th century this was a popular way to purchase soap. Later it was found if we ground the soap up it was easier to knead and make into balls.

Another method was the use of the Soap Shaper. It took a while to perfect it so that it extruded the soap correctly. Basically, you take your scrap soap, grind it up, place in the extruder and squeeze the soap out like a big caulking gun. We offer a number of shapes. The ropes are then cured a week or so (depends on your soap) and then cut into sample bars. These shapes left in long lengths can also be inserted into the blocks of soap. One way is to place the Loaf Cutting Grid over the mold and use it as a guide to place the shapes. When the loaves are cut into bars they will show the cross section of the shape.

You can re-melt the scrap and re-pour it. It does not look quite the same as your original cold processed soap and you would need to add a little fragrance back in. You cut it into bars and cure it as you normally would. The problem here with re-melting (called re-batching) is collecting enough scrap. You can experiment with it to see what you think. I am sure there is info on the Net for the best way to do this.

We had a customer that wanted shapes cut out of slabs of soap. There was so much waste that we turned to re-batching, to recover it most of it. Personally, I do not like this soap. It does not look good. It is literally cooked to death. Any superfat oils left are ruined and their inherent properties destroyed. There are actually people who make CP soap, re-melt it, re-pour and then cut it. Makes no sense to me but there are those who feel better making things more difficult. :o)

For grinding the soap we used a large commercial meat grinder both for rolling the balls and for the soap shaper. A hand grinder works for smaller amounts.

We also found a simple way to store the soap for extended periods. Using a bucket, we would put in the scrap soap and tamp it down as evenly as possible. We then would put a round piece of plastic similar to a trash bag over the soap. Another layer would be placed, then more plastic and so on. This separated the different scents and allowed the soap to build up to a larger quantity where it would be more efficient in working with. When it got to the point we were making a lot of soap, we had a bucket for each scent. The soap will keep years in this condition.

Ground up soft soap can be molded like clay. It can be kept wrapped in plastic, like a food wrap plastic for quite a while. Great thing for kids to work with. After they mold it, it is just set aside to cure. When it is cured they get to wash with it. A friend of mine Sandy Maine of SunFeather Soap sells little kits just for this purpose. It is sold all over the country.

Finally, we have customers who simply put the scraps in a bags and sell the pieces. I hope some of this helps.