This is the first installment of what I hope will become a lengthy and drawn out series of tutorials that are reasonably informational but of questionable use.
In this edition I would like to address a problem that I’m pretty sure plagues most humanoids that are in the habit of bathing with bar soap; namely that affair where the bar has become too small to usable anymore. What do you do with these slivers? Do you throw them away? Soap is cheap but it always seems like a waste. If you’re one of those who tries to save things you can try merging it into your new bar but sometimes it doesn’t take. As it turns out, there is a method which I use to meld bars which succeeds enough of the time to be marketable.
Disclaimer: I have only tested this with standard Dial bar soap. As always YMMV. Different types of soap may have different properties which prevent them from convalescing. I am not responsible for any damage to you or your soap, etc etc if it blows up I told you not to try it. Don’t email me asking if this process will work with your soap, I don’t know. But I am interested to know if it worked for you, go ahead and shoot me an email if it does, and if you had to do anything special to make it happen.
That said, let’s get started. This process takes about three days to complete. The first thing you need to know is when to start. I used to try this with Irish Spring Sport and I could never get the bars to stick together (which may have been due partly to the shape; Irish Spring has a very curved bar and Dial is more flat), but I believe after having watched my roommate that it has to do with the size of the old bar. The natural inclination is, of course, to use the bar to its fullest extent and then start a new bar when the old one is completely shot. Resist this temptation, it leads nowhere. If you start when the bar is too thin there won’t be enough substance to sustain a merge, and you run the risk of the bar breaking in half which just makes the process that much more difficult.
When your bar is down to about 5mm thick, go ahead and get a new bar out. Unwrap that guy and take both bars into the shower with you. It is important to bring both bars as the moisture helps increase the stickiness of the soap. Go ahead and use the new bar as normal, that is, one side. You’ve got to soak some water through part of the bar (making the soap soft) as well as rub off the hard outer coating, which will happen through normal use. Don’t use the old bar, just set it to the side and let it bask in the steam.
When you’re done set the old bar on the shelf or wherever you keep your soap, and then set the new bar on top in a position where it won’t slide off. If your soap is really curvy you might have to play with which side to use, but the idea is to get maximum contact between the old bar and the side which you prepped during your shower. It’s also important that you don’t leave your soap in the shower, it needs to dry out. This is the first and most crucial step in the merging process. I know it seems weak now but after it dries out it’ll have a pretty good stick. You should probably let it dry for at least 24 hours.
Okay, next day. Pick up your soap carefully, the bottom bar will probably have dried to the shelf so pry it off gingerly, making sure not to break the bars apart. Take ’em in the shower and use the opposite side of the bar, that is, the side NOT with the old bar stuck to it. There isn’t anything like enough grip yet to sustain friction on the old bar and if you use that side now it’ll break right off. As the soap begins to take in moisture it will become soft, and you should apply a little bit of pressure to the old bar side to bring more parts of it in contact. If you do this while the bar is still brittle you’ll break pieces off, so do it slowly over time and don’t rush it. Don’t press too hard either, because too much can cause the bars to separate. That said, if somewhere during this you do happen to break the bars apart, don’t worry. Just set the old one aside and repeat the first step and try again tomorrow. When you’re done set it on your shelf and allow it to dry as before.
Day three. You’re getting pretty close here. Your bars should look pretty much like one. The foam/residue from the soap yesterday, along with the pressure, should have filled in most of the cracks. At this point you can use the merged side. Go ahead and be careful and if it seems like it’s going to break, switch back to the other side and try again tomorrow. As you rub on the merged side, you’ll spread soap into the remaining cracks. The pressure will push down whatever parts aren’t connected yet, and you’ll generally just smooth things out. When you’re done let it dry again.
After this you should be good to go. The key idea is to get the soap very soft, connect it, and then let it dry because as it does it sticks together. It may take more than three days depending on your kind of soap. Just play around with it and use your judgment.