Soap Savers

QUESTION: In this day and age when we try to utilize every scrap, our family is saving handsoap when it gets to be the size that is difficult to handle. Now we have a collection of soap scraps, but we’re not sure if it’s safe to render them down and form new soap. Is there a safe way of doing this, and is it all right to mix brands of soap? Charlotte Mitchell, Salt Lake City, Utah

ANSWER: Place the soap scraps in a stainless steel saucepan. The pan should be large enough so the mixture may come to a boil without running over. (Aluminum pans are affected by the lye in the soap and should not be used.) Add a small amount of water and slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Stir as needed to prevent scorching. The mixture should be thick and creamy. When all the scraps are melted, pour the mixture into a mold, let it cool, and then cut into bars. A mold can be made with a small corrugated pasteboard box lined with waxed paper.

If too much water is added the soap won’t form into bars. If this happens, put the mixture into containers that can be covered and dip out a small amount of the soft gel to wash or lather the hands with. Some people prefer the soft gel soap to the harder bars, so you might experiment with a small amount of each.

Brands of soap may be safely mixed. The colors may not be as clear and distinct when blues, pinks, and yellows are added: but the cleaning quality is not affected. LaVell Turner, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

Pest-free Flour Bins

QUESTION: I have an old-fashioned flour bin that is ideal for storing flour and other cereals, but I can’t seem to control weevil. Are there any solutions? Mrs. H. Chamberlain, Orderville, Utah

ANSWER: It is difficult to keep old-fashioned flour bins completely free from weevil. One method for getting rid of the pests is as follows:

Empty all food from the bin. Wash the bin well with soap and water, and wash the storage area under and around the bin. Rinse well and let dry. Wash or spray the bin and the area around it with an insecticide. Let the insecticide dry, and then wash the bin again with soap and fresh water, rinsing well, to prevent contamination of the grain with the insecticide. When it is dry again, replace the food in an additional container such as a paper bag, a plastic bag, or a cardboard box. This will provide added protection from weevil.

If weevil are already in the food, the containers will isolate it from spreading to other food.

It is helpful to seal the flour bin with a permanent calking compound. This closes off cracks and holes where bugs can enter or hide. This should only be done after the bin is bug-free and before replacing food. Kay Franz, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

Bikes, Two-Wheeled Hazards

Topping a rundown of 422 products, not including the automobile, the bicycle presents “the greatest threat of injury to the American public.”

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, gleaning data from a computer network linking 119 hospital emergency rooms, found that bicycle injuries number about 372,000 annually. This data did not include the presumably high additional number of bike casualties treated in doctors’ offices.

Bike accidents reported included such injuries as concussions, fractures, cuts, amputations, and broken teeth. They were commonly caused by faulty brakes, broken pedals, loose wheels, damaged steering gear, feet caught in spokes, and the practice of riding double.

The other top ten hazards of the year were, rated in order: stairs, ramps, and landings; nonglass doors, including swinging and folding garage doors, which close on arms and legs; cleaning agents and caustic compounds; tables whose sharp edges and corners can cut and break; box-spring and frame beds, which users fall from or set afire; unorganized football; protruding bolts and weak ladders; fuels such as gasoline, kerosene, and charcoal starters; and glass doors which users fall or slip through and walk into.

The Commission estimates that consumer products injure 20 million Americans yearly. Alton Thygerson, Department of Health Sciences, Brigham Young University