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Wishy Washing

18 Nov

One of the ways I’ve reined in our spending is soap making.

Have you recorded how much you spend on what and how frequently? $4 per bar, $10-20 for laundry detergent, 88 cents for the cheapest hand wash dish soap and another $4 for the dishwasher detergent. I hate to bean count, but at some point I have to treat my family to wise business practices. When something that literally goes down the drain rings up $300 of the grocery budget every year I have to take notice. That’s a month’s worth of groceries!

I started out in January 2013 with Super Laundry Sauce (blender method). Then DG found Rural Spin’s Green Tea Blender Soap and we’re turning out bath bars. And we found recipes we want to try for dishwasher detergent, too.

But once I’ve been at something for a few rounds I invariably start tinkering. Really, it’s all a part of learning, and I hope that you’ll do some creative learning and tell us about it. That’s how complex evolution and higher thinking continue. Evolve or die.

I looked at making my own powdered laundry detergent but found that aside from weight, pre-packaging and spill clean up there aren’t many advantages. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But then again, Super Laundry Sauce isn’t perfect either. It can be messy, doesn’t dissolve and leaves smears on DG’s uniforms; the process is mildly inefficient and while sweltering through summer insomnia I discovered that the chemistry behind it is flawed (sorry, no links)- more on that once I’ve finished my trial runs.

And just so you’re aware, it looks like a meth lab or explosives if you don’t keep your storage cabinet, containers and loose chemicals well labeled and cleaned. Hit up google, it’s entertaining and educative. Various chemicals and some weird stuff in old peanut containers with a crust around the lid. Yeah. Too bad I can’t turn this into an amusing continuing ed opportunity for the local fire department any more.

But the goal is making it better, right?
First I threw a measure of SLS in an old jar with a cup of water and shaking. And hey, it was an improvement over plain paste. It’s just a little messy and time consuming, especially when BG only needs 2 seconds to sneak down stairs and set the water heater to self destruct.

Next up, diluting it via counter top blenders and stick blenders. OK, except for the time and noise – the Basement Troll works nights, and frankly I’m too lazy to spend half an hour every week on something so mindless.

Enter Home Depot. Or as I hate to call it, the Tim Taylor Method.
DG, in her infinite and varied wisdom, pointed out that Gnome Depot has 5 gallon buckets, lids and drywall mixers – paint stirrers on steroids.

A quickly drilled hole in the lid and a drill chuck adapter for the mixer and I was set. OK, I lied. I tried 2 gallon buckets – messy and not enough output. And I already had a 5 gallon with a hole from my failed hand washer project.
Oh, and use a siphon because pouring is messy and means dealing with a fourth of a jug of foam.

I tried my neighbours discarded laundry detergent dispenser/container for storage, but it was tough to clean out and I had to shake it every time. If you haven’t read elsewhere, home made liquid laundry soap separates. I’m working on a cure, but in the mean time I use a 1 qt peanut container, marked per load. For the bulk I just use a well rinsed gallon milk jug.

Now I can muck up a month’s worth of laundry soap in 5 minutes.
Stay tuned for the sciency stuff and hopefully a video to come.
-Cappy

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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in A Penny Saved

 

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