This week I’m working on the finishing chapters for “The Stick Chair Book” and needed to mix up some new batches of soap finish. As usual, I used soap flakes from the Pure Soap Flake Co.
But not as per usual, I got the recipe wrong.
Instead of combining equal weights of boiling water and soap flakes, my brain told me to measure out the flakes using volume instead of weight. And for some reason I doubled the amount of water.
I knew it was wrong when I started mixing it, but I left it overnight to see what happened.
To my surprise, it made a very nice all-natural liquid soap. So I refilled all the soap dispensers in our house like I meant to do it.
If you would like to repeat my mistake, take 1 cup of soap flakes and combine it with two cups of boiling hot water. Mix it vigorously until all the flakes dissolve. Let it cool, then use it.
— Christopher Schwarz
13 thoughts on “Lost Art Soap”
Very nice. So many discoveries are made by accident. This doesn’t quite rank up there with penicillin, but it’s very useful! :>)
It’s really nice soap!
Lost Art Urine next ? 🙂
That would have been “Liquid Gold” a year ago 🙂
There’s no such thing as failure as long as something can be salvaged along with the newly acquired insight. LOL
I love it when mistakes work out!
I’m confused now. The video you made on Youtube 4 years ago says 1 cup of soap flakes and 4 cups of water for “soap soup” or one on one for “soap wax”. But cups, not weight. I actually tried making the soap soup recently and it works well. Where can I find that weight recipe and what’s the difference in the result?
I’ll post the recipes by weight soon, as soon as I double-check them. I’ve seen some weird variations with different brands of flakes that I’m trying to sort out. The “soap soup” is a flexible recipe. The waxy one is not as flexible.
Sorry for the confusion. I’ve been refining my process during the last four years.
Liquid soap is this simple, and its introduction to homes in the 1980s provides a fun example of business strategy. SoftSoap, the first liquid soap sold for home use, was launched by a brand new company that couldn’t compete with the big companies on making any kind of soap. The second the large companies saw that consumers liked having liquid soap next their sinks, they could crank out more soupy soap than a new entrant ever could.
But the founder of SoftSoap realized that the plastic pump was more important than the soap. Since there weren’t many companies that made suitable plastic pumps, he borrowed more than his company was worth to buy all of the plastic pumps the world could produce for the next year. That gave SoftSoap a year to get onto store shelves and build brand recognition before the dominant players in the market could react.
SoftSoap did eventually sell out to Colgate-Palmolive, and their story isn’t an example of success through providing a higher-quality, more wholesome product. It’s a very 1980s story. But this weird bit of cleverness is probably responsible for all of us having liquid soap dispensers next to our bathroom sinks.
When is the publication date projected for “The Anarchist’s Guide to Homemaking?” Perhaps you can finally write those chapters on birdhouses as part of the home decorating section!
Ivory soap– which floats– was represented as another Cincinnati-area mistake soap, and it made Procter & Gamble’s fortune. IIRC the guy watching the mixing vats fell asleep after lunch, and air was mixed into the soap, which made it float. Rather than toss the product, they marketed what was unique about it. People liked soap that didn’t sink in the bathtub. Now this is based on a report I did in 6th grade, 1973–4, with P&G materials as a source (my dad worked there); I just checked Wikipedia and it turns out to be a tall tale. James N. Gamble made it on purpose. Ah well.
Don’t post the recipe on lumberjocks. I’m pretty sure those people don’t use soap.
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