A Soap Finish Tip--you'll want to pay attention to this one.

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 06-01-2016 01:48 PM 1444 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3342 posts in 1973 days

06-01-2016 01:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip

After a recent Chris Schwarz blog, i decided to try soap finish on a picture frame I was making for an environmental certificate for our church. I figured soap finish was perfect since it wouldn’t need to be protected from much and was organic, biodegradable, etc. I made up a little bit and experimented and I liked it.

I was using Dri-Pak soap flakes.

Yesterday was the time to apply the finish, and I made a batch and put in the water too quickly, and I was having trouble getting it to smooth out—more like hunks of gel floating in water, so I poured it down the sink and made a new batch—much better.

What I did not anticipate—that half cup of soap in hot water ended up forming a 8” solid block in my trap. I tried using hot water and then drano so I wouldn’t have to take apart the plumbing, but to no avail. I ended up having to take off the trap. I think the only reason it came out as well as it did is that I poured down a lot of boiling water this morning, and I think that softened it into a jello-like consistency that would easily slide out. That stuff gets really hard when dried, and I think that would have been a real problem.

Thought you’d might want to learn from my mistake.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

2 replies so far

View AZWoody's profile


1411 posts in 1399 days

#1 posted 06-01-2016 04:18 PM

Where we live, we have to use septic systems for houses as we’re in the county and one time we had a plug and the guy pulled out a large plug of soap and recommended we only use liquid soaps for the laundry and dishwasher.

What really surprises me is how fast it congealed in your pipes and only made it to the trap. You’re lucky it was there and not somewhere more difficult to access.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2621 days

#2 posted 06-01-2016 04:35 PM

Soap flakes as wood finishing!? had to google it to find out what you are talking about and this is what I found: Not a Bar-top Finish
Soap finish will not take abuse like varnish or epoxy, but that is not its intention. It is an “in-the-grain” finish, and although it has a noticeable sheen, it is a very minimal finish. It does not make the work sparkle and shine. Instead, it reveals a very muted beauty for those that love the touch and look of natural wood. It is the smoothest finish I have ever touched, and has a very alluring quality to it. It is prone to patina quicker than other finishes; for some, this is desirable.


Charles , thanks for the idea, even though I’m running out of room in the cupboard where I keep my cans of wood finishes.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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