I love to travel with my homemade bars of soap, but it can get a bit awkward and slimy. The last time I went to New York City I was staying in a budget hotel with shared showers, meaning I was carrying a slippery, wet bar of soap back to my room after every shower and carefully perching it on the corner of a slightly ajar drawer to dry it back out. I never use hotel bar soaps, either, preferring my own, which means I either have to stop washing my hands the night before I leave somewhere, or I’m packing a wet bar into a zip top bag and hoping for the best. Erk. Anyhow, when Danni got in touch wondering about single use soap petals for traveling and camping, I got to thinking—what other ways could I travel smarter with my homemade soap?
#1 Make smaller soap
This one starts with the making phase and is pretty easy to do. You can form your still-soft (but saponified) soap into small balls, cut it into smaller cubes or sheets, or use smaller molds (like an ice cube tray). This method is best suited for places where you’ll be staying for a few days so you can set up your little soap at the sink and use it multiple times. This one’s also good for shampoo; if you have as much hair as I do you’ll probably get one shampoo use out of it before it’s too small for easy hair washing and becomes a hand soap.
#2 Slice it up
You can do this with any bar of soap, but I found ones that were rectangular of some variety were best as you could get even, thin slices more easily. Cut them as thin as you can for the least amount of waste. It’s best to use quite an old bar so it’s very dry as drier soap slices are less likely to stick to each other (you can also toss the final slices in a wee bit of clay to further prevent them sticking back together). I also tried using an extra coarse Microplane cheese grater and got some nicely sized noodles of soap.
#3 Grind it
If you’ve been looking for a use for all those soap scraps you’ve been saving, here you go! I put a few super dry shards of old soap in my DIY coffee grinder with a spoonful of white kaolin clay, popped on my dust mask (don’t skip this part!) and ground it all into powdery, soapy oblivion. This probably took about two minutes for me; I just kept whirring away until I could hear any big bits of soap rattling around anymore. Once you’ve got your soap powder you can use a wee sprinkle of it to wash your hands with or turn it into a soap paste by combining two parts soap powder with one part water in a little bowl, stirring it together, and letting it soak up into a paste before using (I find this is nicer for showers).
So, what do you do?
Do you have any tips for travelling or camping with homemade soap?