I have a confession to make: I hate bar soap. It gets dirty, is annoying to handle, and takes too long to use up.
Despite this, people like to give me bar soap as a gift, which I feel guilty not using. So I’ve been buying liquid hand soap at $3 a bottle and putting the bar soap in a box with the intention of finding a use for it.
Then it occurred to me that I might be able to convert the bar soap into liquid hand soap. Why didn’t I think of it before? I did some research and found out that it is easy to do. All it takes is melting the soap with water, adding a little vegetable glycerin, and voilà, you have liquid hand soap.
So I tried it and was thrilled to find that it works great! From one bar of soap, I made close to 2 liters of hand soap, which will last a long time. The only thing I purchased for this project was a $2 bottle of glycerin at my local drug store:
Glycerin is made from plant oils and is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers. Since bar soap already has glycerin in it, I tried this experiment both ways, with and without the added glycerin. I found that the below recipe worked fine without glycerin, except that the soap tended to clump and didn’t have as smooth a texture. It made enough of a difference that I would recommend adding the glycerin, but you can also try the recipe without it, if you want.
How To Turn A Bar of Soap Into Liquid Hand Soap
1 c soap flakes
10 c water
1 Tbs glycerin
A large pot
Measuring cup and spoons
A spatula for stirring
A soap container with a hand pump
A container to hold excess soap
First, grate the soap. Get out your cheese grater, grab the soap, and get grating. I found this to be surprisingly easy, although the soap particles tend to float in the air as you grate. You can wear a mask to avoid breathing it in. When you’re done, the soap flakes look like grated Parmesan:
One bar of soap yielded a little over 1.5 cups of flakes. The recipe only uses one cup of soap flakes, so I put the remaining soap in a jar for later use.
In a large pot, combine 1 cup soap flakes, 10 cups water, and 1 Tbs glycerin. Turn on medium-low heat and stir until the soap dissolves. This happens fast, about a minute or two.
Let the soap cool completely, then pour into containers using a funnel. That’s all there is to it!
As I mentioned, this recipe makes a lot of soap, about 6 bottles worth. I put the excess in a large bottle and am storing it under the sink until I need more.
You can also use this soap as body wash. To make it smell nice, add a drop or two of essential oil to the mix.
As I mentioned, the only thing I bought for this experiment was the glycerin. I reused the bottles and the soap was a gift. In the end, I used about $.40 worth of glycerin to make the equivalent of 6 bottles of hand soap. That’s a savings $17.60, well worth the half hour of my time it took to make the soap.
UPDATE: I tried this with Dove Sensitive Skin Soap too. If you want to turn a bar of DOVE soap into liquid soap, click here for the recipe.
ETA: The kind of soap you use may be a bit of a wild card, since every soap will have different ingredients in it. I got the best results with a bar of Yardley soap, which did not even need the glycerin to become hand soap.
Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar seems to be more difficult to turn into hand soap, which I would guess has something to do with the “sensitive” formula.
ETA II: I’m happy so many of you are finding this recipe helpful. If you are having trouble, such as thin or watery soap or “snot-like” soap, I encourage you to read through the comments. Lots of people have reported back with their experiences with the recipe and troubleshooted the problems. It seems that sometimes letting the soap sit to thicken in the pot or hacking it with a hand blender to loosen it does the trick.
ETA III: For a solution on getting the soap to lather, try a foaming soap dispenser.