Sunday, 15 February 2015

Olive Oil Soap - a useful tip

For many years now I have been buying the big 600g bars of olive oil soap from Wingham, but I only used them grated.. whenever I tried to cut a chunk off to use they just crack and crumble.  Which was a pain 'cos it's useful having a hand sized piece.  But it was a bit on the pricey side for me though to buy small bars of olive soap..  the big bars are much better value, just not so convenient.  So I just used vegetable soap from the supermarket.  Which was fine, but I'd of preferred to use Olive soap

WELL.  A little while back I was reading a listing for this soap on and they actually had cutting advice from the manufacturer in their listing!  Brilliant!  I'd also read about using a hot knife to cut soap so I decided to combine the 2..  tried it out and it works like a charm :)

Oliva brand soap - 600g bar
You need a pretty big knife, I found that I needed to push on the point end too to go through the soap evenly, so it needs to be plenty long enough.

Fill a bowl/jug with very hot water and stand the blade of the knife in it to warm up.

Unwrap the soap and stand the block on a microwave safe plate.  Pop it in the microwave and heat it up a little.  The instructions I read said to heat it for approx 20 seconds...  I found that it still cracked and crumbled after 20, so I popped it back in for another couple of 15 second bouts (I did it in 2 go's so I could check it wasn't heating up too much).  

Dry the blade of the knife, and cut straight downwards through the soap (being careful of your fingers!)  If it still crumbled I popped it back in for a few seconds, being careful not to go too far - Google 'soap in microwave' to see what happens if you do there are loads of videos.  

Working swiftly so the soap & blade don't cool down cut your big block into smaller bars. 

approx 100g per bar
I did have one failure with this method however.  I found a block of soap at the back of the cupboard that must of been there for a few years. Turns out really old soap is too dry for this method to work on.  The photos below show old and new soaps for comparison.

New olive oil soap..  moist and creamy with
an even olive green colour right the way through
Old dry olive soap.. you can see the difference in texture and colour,
it's only the very centre that is still the usual green, the outside
 is more of a pale brown
The old one was no good for cutting up, but as it's still fine for grating at least it shan't be wasted.

I was so happy to of found this tip, now I have lots of bars of olive oil handsoap :)  Perfect for felting with.  I'm sure there are many felters who have known to do this for years.. but I didn't and wanted to pass it on incase any of you don't. 



Heather Woollove said...

'Grate' idea! (Sorry!) ;)

Lyn said...

Brilliant tip...but a day too late! I took a knife to a large Wingham block yesterday and I have a bag of rugged chunks.

However, I've cut the big blocks up before with no bother, so I'm wondering if I've always done it in summertime perhaps when the soap would be naturally softer?

Anyway, I'll remember this tip next time! Thanks for posting.

FeltersJourney said...

Heather you crack me up :) xx

Lyn you've amazed me that you have been able to cut 'em up before.. I've never managed to cut even one decent piece, I've always ended up with a bag of ragged chunks. And I know I've tried in the summer, I did in 2014 just before Judit's workshop when the weather was gloriously hot..