So what do you do with those leftover slivers of soap that are too small to use? My mother and grandmother put them into a little wire basket with a handle and would swish it in the dishwater (for you younger readers, that was the water in the dishpan where the dishes were washed, which sat in the sink). But no one does dishes in a dishpan anymore, let alone swish around a basket of soap chips.
Because of that early example, I cannot bring myself to throw away a soap sliver. It is not the cost of the soap. I know it is only pennies. It is my obligation to confirm a frugal family tradition going back at least two generations. To throw one away would betray an ancestral trust.
My goal was to re-form the slivers into a usable bar without an amount of effort that would far outweigh their value. This eliminates techniques described on the Internet, such as grating them up with a cheese grater and melting them in a pan. Instead of effort, I use time on my side, and here is the way you, too, can do it:
Put the dry slivers in a plastic baggie. They probably have been sitting around for a year, so they are certainly dry. Leave recent slivers for next year. Tap the bag with a jar, a shoe, or anything that is handy, and they will crumble to a powder. Shake the bag to mix them up, add enough water to almost cover them, close the bag and let it sit for several days. Try to forget about it. Sitting for a month would be even better. They will form a gooey glob, so squeeze them together while still in the bag. If they are not sticky enough, add a little more water–too gooey, leave the bag open for several days to dry out a little.
When the glob is solid enough to hold together, take it out of the baggie and shape it with a butter knife into something resembling a regular bar and let it sit on top of the baggie to dry out. As it dries, the surface may crack, but the inside will still be soft, so just push it together, or ignore it. A crack in your soap is not the biggest tragedy in life. Eventually, you will have a usable bar. The inside of the baggie will be messy, but don’t throw it out. It still contains a significant amount of soap. Leave it open to dry, and reuse it next year.
I do all of this in the bathroom while I am brushing my teeth (with slight pauses), so I do not have to set aside a special time to do it. Any toothpaste drool falling into the soap mixture adds to the final fragrance. If you need a bar of soap quickly, like for a bath later in the day, go out and buy one, or keep the soap from your motel rooms for these emergencies (I do that, too).
Don’t send me your soap slivers. If you don’t want to reuse them yourself, throw them out. How cheap can you get?