VanHaren column: Are you a soap-saver like me?

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Roger VanHaren

Note: Because of the busy-ness of the season, I’m taking a break and re-running a column from May of 2004. Happy New Year to all my readers.

What happens at your house when the soap in the shower shrinks down to a paper-thin sliver? You know, that little wafer of Dove or Dial left after the rest of the bar has been rubbed away. At our house, the Super-Senior Soap-Sliver Saver (that’s me!) springs into action.

Never one to waste things, I take it upon myself to carefully meld that slippery little sliver to a new bar. I hate to throw it in the trash; it’s just as soapy as a regular bar. I can’t stand to see the once-proud sudsmaker, now a pinched, tenuous, slightly twisted form, relegated to sharing its temporary home with a new shiny bar, losing all attention and respect.

I have been restoring these little slivers to more dignified utilitarian entities for as long as I can remember. The process is simple. You must be sure that both the new bar and the old one are nice and sudsy, and that the little sliver of soap is supple enough to conform to the contours of the new bar. Then, you carefully press the two together, making certain that the pressure is gentle enough that the sliver doesn’t break. If you do this properly, that little sliver will bond itself to the new bar by the time you take your next shower.

Of course, sometimes the results are not very aesthetically pleasing, especially if the old sliver and the new bar are not the same brand of soap, or if they’re different colors. And maybe they’ll have slightly different aromas. But I’ve found that Irish Spring and Palmolive Gold are reasonably pleasing together – and there’s a hint of Packers colors there. A nice way to show my loyalty to the Green and Gold.

Why do I do this? I wouldn’t say it’s a compulsion; I wouldn’t do it someone else’s bathroom, for instance. But I remember “rainbow soaps” when I was a kid. Soap bars from the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, and the tub/shower would often get turned into multi-colored balls. The exception was the Lava soap. (Do they still make Lava soap? I haven’t seen it in years.) We always had bars of Lava on the farm. It was great for cleaning the grimy hands associated with the heavy farm work. But Lava, because it was gritty – sort of like sandpaper (I think it contained pumice) – didn’t combine well with other soaps. So it was strictly Lava-to-Lava when the bars became emaciated and needed resuscitation.

I’m sure this is all part of the “waste not, want not” philosophy that pervaded my growing-up years. I grew up during the rationing years of World War II when every cent counted in our family budget. We saved string, paper, rags, tinfoil, all kinds of stuff, which we could sell to men who made rounds of the county buying materials that could be recycled in the “war effort.” I suppose I thought that by saving soap, we were helping, doing our part. Who knows what vital material was in soap that could be critical to the defense department – so wasting it would be a shame!

Am I alone in this? Or are there other Super-Senior Soap-Sliver Savers out there?