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14 Creative and Clever Soaps

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If you want to get a gift for someone who seems to have everything they need or want, here's a bit of advice. You should get them something they can use up! Or else get them something that's so different and creative that they'll treasure it anyway. The soaps on the list could fill both suggestions.

1. Beaker and Test Tube Soaps

The Mad Scientist Soaps Gift Set contains a beaker and a test tube. Order as many as you like and Meilin at Two Eggplants Company will ship you the colors and scents you prefer. The soaps pictured are scented with raspberries, mint, and orange, but you can get unscented or even custom smells and colors. If you look close, you'll see bubbles at the top of the "chemicals" in the containers! Perfect for a scientist (mad or not), a science geek, or a student.

2. Game of Foams

Is someone on your gift list a Game of Thrones fanatic? They'll be thrilled to get a hand-carved soap with a crest for their preferred clan, here called Game of Foams. The Soap of Stark features a grey wolf on winter white, and the Soap of Lannister features a golden lion on crimson. Your choice, from GeekSoap.

3. Rice Krispy Treats Soap

This looks tempting, but don't take a bite out of it! These Rice Krispies treats are soap made of vegan glycerin. Are they crunchy? I don't know! But they will get you clean.

4. Fingers Soap

Get your hands clean with finger soap! These disembodied fingers come in a set of four so you can use as little or as much as you need. Creepy, yes, but they'll certainly draw attention -and may even encourage the most reluctant kids to lather up in the bathtub!

5. Cinnamon Chai Soap

A cup of chai is so tasty and relaxing, but can be fattening if you don't limit yourself. Cinnamon chai soap is NOT fattening at all, and has that same delicious scent that will linger after your bath.

6. Christmas Ribbon Candy Soap

If you buy Christmas candy soap, you'll want to keep it for yourself, or give it early enough for the recipient to display before the holiday. Of course, no matter how impressed guests are with your artistic soap, they won't actually use it because it's too pretty. So what? Use it yourself or save it to put out again next year! Ribbon candy soap smells like Christmas candy and comes in a random variety of red, white, and greens stripes -just like the real thing!

7. Beer Soap

Brooklyn Brewery, a real beer brewery, offers Beer Soap in their gift shop. Yes, there's beer in it, your choice of lager, ale, or stout. Hey, if beer is good for a shampoo, it must be good for body soap, too!

8. My Poop Does Not Stink

Now, this proves that you can get soap in any shape whatsoever. Titled My Poop Does Not Stink, this soap should always be in the bathroom -not the kitchen! Hand made by Leeana Provan of LoveLeeSoaps. She has quite a selection of more conventional soaps, too, including many Christmas designs.

9. Hamburger Soap

It's pretty neat to have soap in the shape of a hamburger patty, two pieces of bun, a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato! Stack your soap hamburger however you want. The bun is French bread scented, which makes sense, but the rest is ...wait for it... bacon scented! No, it doesn't make sense, but isn't it wonderful? Of course, if you have time for a custom order, you can get this burger in another scent.

10. Elements

What's your favorite element? A collection called In Your Element has a variety of soap bars featuring different element symbols. Shown is uranium, which glows in the dark. The elements are colored somewhat like the element it represents. The sodium bar contains salt for scrubbing! If you can't make up your mind, BubbleGenius also has bars with several elements on them, spelling out "foam" or "soap," or you can get a set of a dozen bars.

11. Periodic Table Soap

You can also get the entire periodic table in one bar of soap from Two Eggplants.

12. D20 Soap On A Rope

Soap on a rope has been a Christmas gift staple for men for well over a half-century. Make it more than useful to your favorite D&D geek in the shape of a D20 die! Next thing you know, he'll be rolling the soap to determine what body part to wash next. The die is handmade with the regulation 20 sides, and it smells good, too.

13. Caffeinated Soap

Invigorate yourself in the morning with caffeine-infused soap. Each bar is made of vegetable-based glycerin with peppermint scent and caffeine. If you make a bar last for a dozen showers, you should get 200 milligrams of caffeine per shower, which can be absorbed through your skin depending on how long you leave it on.

14. Dentures

Dentures soap might not be the best gift for an elderly person who 1. wears dentures and b. doesn't see very well. But for anyone else it should be perfectly safe -and funny! Cup not included.

But that's not all! See more unusual soaps in the previous posts 10 Strange and Wonderful Soaps, 8 Attention-grabbing Soaps, and 9 Odd and Unusual Soaps.

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HuskeeCup
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Food
Drink Your Coffee Out of a Cup Made From Coffee Waste
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HuskeeCup

Your coffee habit isn’t exactly good for the environment. For one thing, 30 to 50 percent of the original coffee plant harvested (by weight) ends up as agricultural waste, and there aren’t many uses for coffee husks and pulp. While coffee pulp can be made into flour, and in Ethiopia husks are used to brew a type of coffee called bruno, typically most of the byproducts of your morning coffee go to waste.

Huskee has another use for coffee husks. The company makes stylish coffee cups, returning coffee back to its original home inside the husk, in a sense. The dishwasher-friendly and microwavable cups are made of husks from coffee farms in Yunnan, China. The material won’t burn your hands, but it keeps your coffee warm as well as a ceramic mug would.

A stack of black cups and saucers of various sizes on an espresso machine.
HuskeeCup

Designed for both home and restaurant use, the cups come in 6-ounce, 8-ounce, and 12-ounce sizes with saucers. The company is also working on a lid so that the cups can be used on the go.

Huskee estimates that a single coffee drinker is responsible for around 6.6 pounds of husk waste per year, which doesn’t sound like much until you begin to consider how many coffee lovers there are in the world. That’s somewhere around 1.49 million tons per year, according to the company. Though coffee husks are sometimes used for animal feed, we could use a few more ways to recycle them. And if it happens to be in the form of an attractive coffee mug, so be it.

A four-pack of cups is about $37 on Kickstarter. The product is scheduled to ship before February 2018.

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Big Questions
Jam vs. Jelly: What's the Difference?
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The language of fruit spreads is a peculiar one. Spreads made from the squeezed-out remnants of oranges, berries, grapes, and other mashed-up foods can easily be confused for one another, with jam vs. jelly being a particular source of befuddlement. Here’s how to keep them straight. 

Jelly is made solely from the juice of fruit. The fruit is crushed and strained, and the liquid extract is boiled with added sugar and pectin to produce a thick, spreadable topping. Jam is produced in a similar way, but with one important distinction: It’s not strained. The goop leaves in chunks of crushed fruit, giving the spread a more robust consistency. Because it’s already thick, preparations of jam typically don’t call for a whole lot of pectin. Think of it as the chunky peanut butter to jelly’s regular, even though you might not see whole pieces of fruit suspended in the product.

Sometimes people will call a spread a “fruit preserve.” While that might mean the fruit chunks are larger and more noticeable, that’s not always the case. You might also see marmalades that look suspiciously like jams. The distinction there is that marmalades are typically sourced from citrus fruits like oranges or lemons.

Things get a little trickier in the UK, where “jelly” can refer either to a fruit spread or to the gelatin concoction Jell-O. The country also has pretty strict standards for applying the jam label: Jams need to be a minimum of 60 percent sugar in order to earn that title. The rule was created in the 1920s so the spreads would have a longer shelf life. (Sugar, in this instance, acts as a preservative.) Reducing the amount of sugar, which has been discussed among people wishing to keep all of their teeth, might result in a longer boil process and some loss of flavor.

And what of fruit butters and conserves? Fruit butters are made using fruit pulp for thick spreads, but don’t actually contain any butter. Conserves add nuts or raisins for added texture. These rogue spreads aren’t as common as jelly or jam.

We hope this clears up any jam vs. jelly confusion and that you find yourself better-informed to deal with the next naked piece of toast you encounter.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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