Q. Are soaps safe for septic systems?
A. Yes; all soaps are safe for septic systems.
Q. Are soaps biodegradable?
A. Yes; however the use of water containing soap can cause some problems for the garden, all of which can be rectified if they occur:
- Soap products are alkaline, which can cause an increase in the pH of the soil. If the pH increases too much, it can affect the uptake of iron in plants, which will usually manifest as yellowing of new leaves. The cause of the yellowing can be checked with a pH test kit and if the pH is high, it can be gradually reduced by the addition of sulphate of iron.
- Soap contains salt, which can build up in the soil and adversely affect the plants; however this can be rectified by the addition of gypsum and compost.
- The fats and oils present in soap may cause the soil to become water repellent. This is easily rectified by the addition of a soil rewetting agent.
All of the above possible problems can be prevented from occurring, if the garden is kept well mulched and contains a lot of organic matter, such as compost, manure, etc.
I would also advise contacting your local water authority concerning the use of grey water; they will have some valuable advice and tips on safe grey water usage.
Q. Why is the bar soaps becoming softer?
A. This is a supply and demand situation, in more recent times the soap is being delivered to the supermarkets within three months (green soap) of manufacture; in previous times the soap would be approximately one year old and would loose a lot of moisture making the bar hard and more resistant to absorption of water in the home use.
Q. What to do with those tiny soap slivers?
- Probably the easiest way is to stick it onto the next bar of soap. Wet both of them well and press the sliver firmly onto the side of the new bar of soap.
- Save enough to make a fresh bar of soap. Cover your sliver collection with water and let it set until it's very soft, then smooth it in a blender or food processor (or use a fork or potato masher). Put it into an oiled mould and let it set until it's dry enough to use. A mould can be any container, just be sure to oil it well so that the soap releases easily.
- Use a sliver of soap to make sticky drawers or any other wood object glide smoothly. Just run it around the edge wherever it sticks.
- Free up a sticky zipper. Soap lubricates without being messy and won't harm your clothing like oil and graphite can. Just rub a stubborn zipper with the soap sliver until it works smoothly. Rub both sides of the zipper for fastest results.
- Tie one or two in a net bag and hang it where you can clean up after working in the garden.
- Tie a soap sliver in a washcloth when bathing yourself or young children. You may have to scrunch it around a few times to get the lather going.
- Sew a deep pocket into a few washcloths or bath mitts and put a sliver of soap in it for the shower or bath.
- Melt pieces of left over soap in the microwave and mould in plastic chocolate moulds for re-use.