Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Felted soap - what's that all about?

I tend to find I don't use bars of soap nowadays.  Liquid soap sits at each sink and a rainbow of shower gel bottles inhabit our bathroom.  The soap bar in a gratefully received toiletry set frequently becomes an orphan.
I love Arran Aromatics, or Arran - Sense of Scotland as they're now known, but the Eydis soap I received in this set was languishing in our bathroom cupboard so I decided to liberate it and create a felted soap bar. 

But why would you? 

Felted soap isn't a modern idea.  In the past, soap was encased in a fabric pouch to make it last longer.  By felting the soap into a wee woolly parcel, you get soap and cloth in one.  The wool helps exfoliate the skin and the soapy suds don't go to waste.  It's also easier to hang onto when you're washing as it's less slippery than a naked bar of soap.  You can still enjoy the lovely fragrance.

All pluses so far - but isn't it unhygienic?  Well, I learned that bacteria prefer smooth surfaces so the natural antibacterial properties of the uneven wool coating deter unwanted adherents apparently.

So I proceeded to make a felted soap of my own.  There are lots of really great tutorials online showing in detail what to do - I probably followed this one most closely.

It seemed like a soap bar with rounded edges might be easier to work with so I used the potato peeler on my soap bar's straight edges and kept the shavings to use when I need soap flakes.

I looked out some merino wool roving which I've used in other projects and a pair of old clean tights.

I wrapped the soap bar in the wool roving and popped the woolly soap 'parcel' into the toe of the tights to help it all stay together.

Then I put on some music that I knew would last for at least half an hour because that's how long you need to rub the soap in warm water to make the fibres stick together.

No loose fibres should come away during the 'pinch test' ensuring the wool has felted successfully.  I then left my soap bar to dry overnight.  (I also had the cleanest hands in the world!)

Here's the dry soap the following day.  I chose to decorated mine with a bit of needle felting, adding a wee pink star.

My intention with this blog post had been to show what happened once the soap was used up but here's the soap on it's first day in use and the same soap one month later.  The wool shrinks as it gets wet and dries again so it continues to fit snugly around the soap.  I've been using it every day and try to use it every time I wash my hands at home.  It's clearly going to last a very long time!

So here's a decorative and practical way I've put a bar of soap to use - and I'm liking the result!

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