Living a low-impact life is important to me. It is also something that I practiced long before we moved onboard. However, living on a boat is living a little closer to the natural world than most, and I mean literally.
For instance, our sinks drain directly overboard, which means everything that goes down the drain ends up in the ocean. This is of course true in many homes, especially those in cities. The difference is that when you live in a house you don’t see the direct impact. On board you can actually do the dishes and then lean over the side and see the debris as the sink empties.
This means making an effort to source environmentally friend soaps and detergents has always been a priority. Even if it costs a little more, or I have to buy enough to last 6 months at once, or I have to carry it back to the boat in my luggage.
I prefer liquid soap because I find it lasts longer.
Bar soap goes all soft and gooey if you don’t keep it in a soap dish that lets it dry out. The problem with a soap dish on a boat is that unless it is bolted down it tends to become a projectile when we are sailing, launching the gooey soap onto the floor where it them becomes a slick mess and potential hazard. Not fun.
Also, after replacing our broken hand pump with a foot pump we were left with a hole in the counter in the head (that’s boat speak for bathroom). By cleverly repurposing a plastic mason-style jar and plastic cosmetic container I not only covered the hole but made a soap dispenser than stays put while underway and is unlikely to break if it doesn’t. Win, win.
The problem lately has been sourcing liquid soap.
I always try to buy local, after all shipping low-impact products half way around the world isn’t exactly good for the environment. I was excited when I found a line of all natural, made in the Philippines soaps on one of our trips to Manila last year, except all that was available was bar soap. Then I wondered if bar soap could be turned into liquid soap. I was happy to discover that By Google!, it could be.
Turning bar soap into liquid soap is deceptively easy.
All you need is your bar of environmentally friendly soap, a cheese grater, some boiling water, a jar and a spoon. Since the dispenser I intended to use in the end is plastic I mixed the batch in a glass jar of the same size and made sure it was cool to the touch before bottling it.
Simply grate the soap on the coarse side of the cheese grater, gather together the shavings and place in a glass jar. Top the jar up with boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
When cooled to the touch pour into your repurposed soap dispenser. Voila! All natural, low-impact liquid soap.
I have used this trick a couple times now and have no problems with the liquid soap separating or resolidifying. As well, this doesn’t have to be used only on your hands. Go head use it on all your other dirty parts too!