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#188336 - 11/14/09 10:06 PM Soap for the long run?
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
This mainly a mental exercise, folks.

Suppose the grid and everything else went down for... say, two years.

What are your plans for soap? Hands, body, dishes, laundry.

Sure, it's a mundane question, so what?

Yes, I know that in the olden days, people didn't wash a lot of stuff very often, including themselves (like in the days of the Black --Bubonic-- Plague). Going back to those conditions with our delicate, non-resistant, anti-bacterial-doused bodies that don't have a high tolerance to bacteria seems like an invitation to problems.

So, do you plan to store a couple of years worth of soaps and detergents?

Do you plan to make your own soap? And if so, with what?

Would you be replacing soap with some other kind of cleaner?

Bring the ideas forth!


#188338 - 11/14/09 10:27 PM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: Susan]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1913
Loc: Washington, DC
This is an extremely important discussion and I'll be very interested to see what information is contributed to this thread.

I won't even camp for long without showers. This would be a huge morale issue and sanitation is not to be sneezed at....

And toothpaste.

I tend to buy soaps and hygiene stuff on sale so at best I might have six months on hand. If I got into my dog's shampoo...

First thing I'd do is stop being so liberal with soap. I measure laundry soap but otherwise don't measure what I use now. And compared to a lot of societies, Americans are obsessive about bathing so we could probably bath less often. Maybe every other day, that would stretch out supplies considerably.

Great topic.

#188339 - 11/14/09 10:27 PM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: Susan]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Suppose the grid and everything else went down for... say, two years.

What are your plans for soap? Hands, body, dishes, laundry.

The recent financial crisis prompted me to stockpile 2 years supply of household toiletries and household goods. Soap is cheap and inexpensive, is easy to keep in a long term stockpile and not easily reproduced in the garden shed. 2 years stockpile of soap shouldn't cost more the a case of MREs depending on how fancy the soap is. Same goes for toothpaste, shampoo, bleach and washing detergent and powder. Big boxes from discount retailers was the solution. Toilet paper is another story though being extremely bulky requiring lots of storage space (don't take Sheryl Crows advice unless SF trained using non NATO standard issue TP wink ) 2 years supply of acceptable quality razor blades was ridiculously expensive considering what you are actually getting. Same with the shaving oil, so I just made my own up from essential oils available from online retailers who mainly sell oils for wholesale aromatherapy products.

Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (11/14/09 10:32 PM)

#188344 - 11/14/09 11:31 PM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: Susan]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2806
Loc: La-USA
I keep several books on hand that have different recipes for making soap.

There is a tree bark that is naturally soapy that Native Americans used. It might be rough but it worked well.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#188345 - 11/14/09 11:49 PM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: wildman800]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
Hands & Dishes- We get biodegradable soap from Costco for washing our hands, and doing dishes. I believe it's sold in 1G jugs, and we buy 2G each time we go. We have around 3-5g on hand and we go through maybe 1g every 5 months. Just the two of us, no dishwasher, all done by hand.

We also have 5 of those large "alcohol based" hand sanitizer containers from Wal-Mart/Costco. I am talking the large refill containers, not the pump models. We have probably 5 full pump throughout the house too + in our cars.

Body- We have a couple cases of dove unscented that we use already, we just stock it too. We could also use the Costco 1G biodegradable we use for hands/dishes for our body too if we wanted.

Clothes- We use the natural/unscented something another, and it lasts about 6 months. I recently just got enough powders to start making our own soap, I think I got enough to *are you ready* make 50 gallons of concentrated soap liquid. (I had to buy it in bulk.)

The main thing for washing is water supply.

2 years, no grid, how are you getting water?

For us we have a two wells (almost 1/4 mile apart) and two generators, and enough electrical connectors, extension cords, holding tanks, to get us through. Next spring/summer we will be adding a 2600g holding tank too, and if funds allow digging my pond and plumbing the second well up for gravity feed.

Toilet Paper is much harder to stock due to bulk, and not wanting to leave it in the basement (moisture potential). We have enough on hand for probably 6 months. Once the basement is dry/sealed up we`ll stock much more I`m thinking.

Tooth paste is another easy thing to store and cheap.

We don't store bleach but we do keep 5 gallons of vinegar on hand too. Great for washing and tons of misc things.

2 years of razors = cheap!! Come awn, disposable dual blade razors. I get atleast 1 or 2 packs a year from relatives or my mother in my "stocking" gift.. I haven't shaved in 2 years, I only trim my beard so really razors are for the wife smile But in a survival situation they could be spread out much longer I`m sure.

Cooking oil is very important to stock for long term and commonly missed. Even pressurized canola oil expires within 2 years, so it may be wise to stock some lard or something for longer-term storage if that's what you are into. We use the aerosol stuff, and rotate through it every few months so storing it is no big deal.

Self Sufficient Home - Our journey to self sufficiency.

#188349 - 11/15/09 12:22 AM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: Todd W]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
To be honest, I haven't thought about it. I mean, I buy usually the 6 or 8-pack of bar soap for myself. Hand soap I usually buy the big size refill of liquid soap. A tube of toothpaste lasts for ever, probably 6 months per tube.

When camping, I've gone a week without showering. You get a bit ripe, but only to a point before you're done with basting in your own filth and your body hits an equilibrium.

So for this mental excercise, assuming I bath once weekly, I'm sure my 8-pack would do just fine for a LONG while. Maybe 2 years? That's only 104 baths. I think it's do-able. I don't know if the toothpaste would last that long, but if a 2-pack lasts me a year, and I brush 2-3 times a day, then yeah, once a day should last 2 years.

As for laundry or hand soap, I think I'm ok just rinsing my chothes or bathing with them on during my weekly cleaning.

I advise others to stay upwind of me in this situation. smile

#188351 - 11/15/09 02:34 AM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: MDinana]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
A number of plants have saponins that lather and are very good soaps, such as yucca, soaproot, and soapweed.

Everyone used to make a lye-type soap from "soup" of wood ash and water - often scented and made more mild by adding pine or flowers. I think some folks added rendered fat or sheep lanolin to make the soap more mild.

#188352 - 11/15/09 02:52 AM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: dweste]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Lye soaps require fat, from what I understand; otherwise, it's just lye. It's the fat that would be the trickiest. Every animal that wasn't under armed guard would probably be killed and eaten in less than the first year.

Plants are interesting, but it might be difficult to grow enough.

Toothbrushes are more important than toothpaste. It's the brush that does the work. The paste just adds a little fluoride and scent.

Okay, homemade soap if you have fat available, soap plants, storage of commercial soaps, and soap rationing. Anything else?


#188356 - 11/15/09 04:20 AM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: Susan]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2641
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Given the scenario, I don't think soap would be the most important thing by a long shot. Very nice to have, and somewhat important for health and morale in the short term. But probably more essential as a trade good. An ounce of perfumed soap for ... you name it.

It's not like the crew at the office are going to whisper. What office? A daily shower is a luxury. A bi-weekly scrub-down is a necessity.

From what I've read, the NASA/International Space Station folks who spend months in space (albeit with some pretty awesome non-water-washing kit) are mostly dying for a good exfoliation when they get back.

Like a scrub down with sand and hot water. Or scrub down with wood ash and hot water. Boil evergreen needles or any aromatic solvent-producing plant in hot water. Boil/rinse your dishes in hot water.

Make vinegar out of those mealy apples and use for preserving and washing. Vinegar is great for peeling oils off surfaces.

And what about a steaming hot sauna, and a good roll in the snow after? Very refreshing. Alone or otherwise.

Edited by dougwalkabout (11/15/09 04:23 AM)

#188358 - 11/15/09 05:05 AM Re: Soap for the long run? [Re: dougwalkabout]
Kona1 Offline

Registered: 09/29/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Pacific Northwest, USA
Natives in the high mountains of South America will save their urine to wash their hair.

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