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Disposable or Washalble Supplies?

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earlene

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If this is the wrong place, please move. I wasn't sure exactly where this would fit best.

I am wondering how others do their clean-up and what kinds of items they choose to use for soap making or bath & body products making. Where do you draw the line when it comes to washable/re-usable versus disposable?

Being a re-use, re-purpose, re-cycle whenever possible kind of gal, I run into problems sometimes when I try to make do with what I have on hand and then am faced with the clean-up versus what to use and toss out instead.

With HP soap, I found that clean up was easier than it is with CP because there is less oil to wipe out of a crockpot before washing up. With CP, I discovered I was using a lot more paper towels to wipe down the containers before I could wash them. I don't want unsaponified stuff going down my drains, of course, so I felt that I had to use paper towels. I do cover my work surface with old towels, which I change out as needed, and those get washed in the washing machine. However, I certainly did not want to have towels sitting around for several days before I can safely wash them (avoiding clogged drains is what I'm talking about here) so it just never occurred to me to use anything else for wiping out the wet containers after pouring my soap.

Then a few months ago, my SIL sent me some 'unpaper towels', a snap together roll of cloth 'unpaper' towels. I had no idea what this item was when it came in the mail, but figured it out before she called to tell me. For a few months they just sat in the laundry room because I couldn't figure out a use for them. I already use cloth napkins, washcloths for kitchen clean-up, cloth rags for cleaning & polishing furniture. I couldn't see the wisdom of slathering them will oil and tossing them into my washing machine. Paper towels are relegated to the worst kinds of messes that I don't want to end up in my washing machine. Then one day I decided to give it a try and hold out the 'unpaper towels' for several days before tossing them in the washer. Holding out dirty laundry for several days goes against my grain. I'm a 'one load of laundry per day' kind of gal, too. Laundry is like the proverbial grass for me. I don't let it grow under my feet. But I persevered and gave it a go. Stains on my beautiful unpaper towels! Well at least now I am using them, but I have gone back to paper towels for the worst of the mess clean-up. It's just too much mess to use washable cloth for some of this stuff!

Re-usable/washable containers to mix colorants? Or disposable? I used disposable once or twice, but the other day it hit me that the demi-tasse cups sitting in the curio cabinet are the perfect size for pre-mixing colorants into oil. My 5-color batch of soap provided the perfect opportunity to try this out.

OMG, the mess that cleaning the cup with black oxide in it created! I had to scour my kitchen sink, all the time hoping the stains would come out. Yes, they did come out, but I learned a valuable lesson. No more oxides in my kitchen sink! I'm going back to disposable cups for mixing colorants.

What kinds of solutions have others here found to similar situations or dilemmas related to conservation and soap making?
 

dixiedragon

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For me, a silicone spatula is hugely helpful, b/c then I can squeegee out my pot VERY well. Then, ideally, let the soap dishes sit overnight and wash the next day. Then the soap left behind will behave more like soap and less like grease and you'll need less Dawn to get the dishes clean.

Disposable - I use Dixie cups to mix my colors in. If I am going to be doing piping, I use a disposable bag.
 

Steve85569

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Most of my tools like mixing bowls are inexpensive enough that I will use them - washing the next day - until they start wearing out. They then get recycled and it's back to the Dollar store or WalMarche' to replace so I still have spares.
Colors I do the same as DD ( I might have got the idea from her). I am always willing to copy someones technique that works well.
 

TeresaT

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I mix the colorants in the pitcher I'm going to be pouring out of. If I'm using four colors (which happens to coincide with the number of funnel pitchers I have) I put a couple of tbsp of my oils in the pitcher and 3 grams of mica then let it sit while I do some other things. I go back to the pitchers and mix the mica well to make sure it's all been dissolved and is smooth. Once the batter is at emulsion, I divide it between the pitchers. Of course, this means if I need more color, I've got to add extra oil and my SF will go up. If I've added too much color, that's too bad. But so far, I haven't had either problem. So far... But I do go through a lot of paper towels. It's not been as bad since I started using the puppy pad on my work surface. That absorbs a ton of drips and spills and just gets tossed out. It will also last through a couple of batches of soap if I decide to make more than one in a day. I've gotten three batches out of one pad. I probably could have gotten more, but I was too tired for a fourth one that day.
 

snappyllama

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I try to avoid disposables too. :D

For mixing colorants, I use stainless steel condiment cups I picked up from the grocery store for less than the cost of dixie cups.

For soaping containers, I get out as much a possible with a silicone spatula and then let sit for a couple of days in my seal-able "soaping dishes" bucket. When it comes time to wash, it's just soap in there. I normally chunk in my oily condiment cups and the residual soap on those dishes makes quick work of them.

About the only thing I throw away after a soaping session are a very few paper towels, plastic wrap for my mold if it has a high top, empty FO container, a couple of wooden craft sticks, and a wooden skewer or two. Come to think of it... I have a glass stirring rod that would work just as well as the wooden skewer for swirling. I should start using that instead!
 

snappyllama

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i should have added... dixie cups are always used for measuring pine tar. Heck with trying to clean that. I've tried. <shudder>
 

Obsidian

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I use small disposable condiment cups for mixing colorant with oils, if I'm using a water based colorant then I will mix it in a small measuring cup or shot glass. I also use a spatula to squeegee all the oil out of my bowls, then they just go into the dishwasher. Anything with soap batter is left overnight to saponify then it gets washed by hand.
I rarely need to use paper towels, I keep the mess to a minimum when soaping.
 

dibbles

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I put a piece of freezer paper over my soaping area. It wipes pretty clean if I'm not too messy. I scrape my soap batter bowls as well as I can, and then wipe with a paper towel. And I do use disposable condiment cups as well for mixing colorants. I tried not doing that and just couldn't deal with the mess of trying to wash permanent bowls out. I always have a few towels around for wiping my hands (with gloves) off if they get oily/slippery.

So I'm not as eco-friendly as I'd like to be, but try to keep the disposing to a minimum. I'll cover the condiment cups if I have a fair amount left over. All the paper that comes with delivered items I flatten out and cut to size and put over the freezer paper on my table, or put it under my cutter and planer. That way it gets reused. I will wash out my empty bottles for recycling. Unfortunately, I don't like doing that and have a big box to deal with right now.
 

mzimm

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I bought 2 packs of these at SAMs club:
image.jpeg
And I use them as though they were paper towels. I wipe everything down with them: spatulas, stick blender, bowls, countertop. I use a tiny silicon spatula to scrape as much colorant as I can out of my stainless steel condiment bowls, and then wipe with these towels as well. I let them sit for a day, and then into the wash machine they go. Oxides do stain them, but to me this is acceptable in a rag.
It's worth noting that we recently replaced our 20 y/o washer, and during the installation it was a big relief to see the washer drain lines were not clogged or gunked up by .... anything!
 

earlene

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Thank you, everyone for your helpful responses. I think I might need to find some better silicon spatulas. Mine are rather stiff and I am thinking perhaps more flexibility would work better for scraping the insides of the containers.

A soaping dishes bucket sounds like a good idea. Something I could hide in the shower in the small bathroom overnight so no one has to look at them messing up the kitchen until I am ready to wash them. I could even use an extra dishpan I already have. I'll give that a try and see how it works for me. (The small bathroom shower is never needed unless we have a houseful of overnight guests, so it is where I currently store my masterbatched lye. Other than that the only purpose is serves is to keep the toilet plunger out of sight.)
 

penelopejane

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I use a flexible silicone spatula to scrape out my bowls as best I can. I then hand wash them (sometimes the next day) and put them in the dishwasher.
I use used paper coffee cups (my DH buys takeaway coffee) to mix and pour small amounts of oil and colours. I also used disposable jelly shot containers (tiny plastic cups) for colours.
I have newspaper on my workbench. We don't buy the paper so I get unsold newspapers free from the newsagent,
When bed sheets get holes in them I cut them up for reusable rags and use those for recyclable cloths. I have paper towel on hand but rarely use it.
 
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Bamagirl

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My cleanup is similar to others who have posted. I wipe out my bowls with paper towels (there isn't much since I scrape pretty good), and then I let everything sit for a couple days :)eek: or sometimes even weeks lol) then I wash my bowls, spatulas ect... and I don't even use any dishwashing detergent because by the time I get around to it, it has turned to soap and suds up nicely. I have also used regular wash clothes and I just let them sit for a couple days as well and any batter has turned to soap so it's not a big deal. I try to be extra careful with making sure it has turned to soap before washing, as we have a septic tank and just recently had to have all our field lines redone (not due to soap, due to the person who put them in decided the cheapest option was the best option, and we only had probably 10-20 feet of field lines-- yea, last Christmas was interesting :))
 

fuzz-juzz

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I am quite fussy in regards to reusing and recycling so most of my equipment is washable/reusable.
I have pitchers in lots of sizes and when doing more colours, I usually premix them in the pitcher I'm going to use for that colour.
I even mix KOH and glycerine for LS in the little pot I use for cooking. It's sparkly clean afterwards. ;)
Everything else is pretty much 100% for soapmaking use, such as Pyrex dishes, plastic bowls, utensils etc.
 

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