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I'm just getting started, learning all I can at this point about soapmaking. I have a few questions. In the countryside's Nov/Dec issue that just came out, on page 19 there is an "Easy soap-making recipe" article. It is so far the easiest I've have find! My questions are, and I hope this doesn't sound too stupid, but what is involed in "render the fat"? This is refering to pig's fat. I don't have pigs, so where can I get pig's fat? I liked the fact of the soap being very white, gentle and having no odor, except for if you want it to, by adding a sented oil. Any advice would be helpful! Thanks Pam

-- Pam Sanford (psanford@terraworld.net), October 13, 2000


You can get lard at a grocery store and use that. I've tried rendering fat( the butcher gave me all I could use for free), and it stunk up the whole house, and still wasn't rendered right. Now I just use vegetable shortening.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@itss.net), October 13, 2000.

Hi Pam, I've been making soap for many years now, and I've found that the mildest and best lathering, especially in hard water, soap is made from coconut oil with a little beeswax added to shorten the tracing time. It works/sets up every time, must have made over 200 bars by now. You can get coconut oil from commercial suppiers of the popcorn industry, it seems they use coconut oil to pop popcorn at the mall stores, movies, etc. 50 pounds is about 55 dollars here in OH, that includes shipping. That will make a lot of soap, lesser quantities are available through health food stores, etc. Lard can be used from the grocery store, but I don't like the smell, even when scented, and it's not as mild. Frontier Herb Coop is an excellent supplier of ingredients, as well as natural foods, organic stuff, and all types of vitamins, and organic herbs that they raise themselves. Their number is 1-800-669-3275 or www.frontiercoop.com. They don't sell to individuals, so make up a name to call yourself, or use your farm name, etc., it only costs $10.00 just once to join, and you can purchase everthing wholesale, MUCH cheaper. If you have any questions, e-mail me, be glad to help. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (annie@1st.net), October 13, 2000.

For no cost lard save grease from bacon, sausage. I save in a small coffee can in the frig. When this can gets full, boil in twice as much water. Cool, let it get hard in frig. again. I repeat with clean water,cool then I'm ready to make soap. I have a small recipe & wood mold. This can will make two of my batches, 12 bars.

I read lots of books f/library before I attempted this. DW

-- dw (djwallace@ctos.com), October 13, 2000.

When pigs and cows are slaughtered I render the fat by cutting the fat into about 1 inch (more or less) and covering adding enough water to cover the fat (actually the fat will float, but you get the idea, right?) and cooking it on the stove until the fat is all shrunk up. I'll strain the fat into another pot (or big bowl) and let it cool. After the fat is cooled, you'll have a thick layer of fat on top of the water. You will also find some waste material just below the fat. Scrape it off. To get a cleaner fat to work with, put it all back in a pot, add clean water and repeat. Add salt when boiling the water as it helps clean the fat. If you are working with beef fat, check with a butcher to see if you can get the fat leaf that's around the kidney, you can get close to 20 pounds of fat from that. I use the waste from rendering fat to form little balls of bird feed (my dog likes it too). You can mix that stuff up with seed or old peanut butter for the birds if you like. I find I get a very nice soap with lard and tallow (beef fat) when I add some olive oil to my mix.

-- Anne Tower (bbill@wtvl.net), October 14, 2000.

If you live around country folk that have their hogs butchered, they will often give you the lard. They don't bother with soap making. This is how I get most of the lard I use. It would be nice to give some soap back or something else to those that give you the lard. Shame on me, I'll actually do that one of these days.:~}

-- Cindy (atilrthehony_1@yahoo.com), October 14, 2000.

I never liked the results with lard, even that I processed (and processed!) myself. Still adds an odd odor to me. So I am with Rebekah and use only vegetable oils, including coconut and palm.

Check out www.snowdriftfarms.com for the best prices on soapmaking ingredients I've seen. I just placed my first order. They are very nice.

-- Anne (HT@HM.com), October 14, 2000.

I use lard which I buy in the grocery store and olive oil for making soap. I usually do it half and half and have not found any unpleasant odor. I do add essential oils though for scenting along with finely ground herbs for color and medicinal properties. I also soak dried herbs in olive oil for several weeks and use that oil in my soap. Haven't bought a bar of soap in years.

-- Mary in East TN (barnwood@preferred.com), October 14, 2000.

One of the soap makers here added luffas ground up to their soap to make it abrasive for heavy duty cleanup after chores. Just thought you might like to know

-- sharon wt (wildflower@ekyol.com), October 15, 2000.

Can't help with the lard questions, but you should check out Miller's Homemade Soap Page-it's my favorite, followed by Lavender Lane. Soap making is fun, and I found it really helped me become more creative. It's not hard to do at all, just a little messy. If anyone is thinking about trying their hand at it for Christmas gifts, you still have time!

-- Cathy Horn (hrnofplnty@webtv.net), October 15, 2000.

I have made just one batch of soap, but it turned out very nicely. Once it had aged, it turned a creamy color. It smells nice and is very mild. I have had a friend with super-sensitive skin tell me it is the only soap she can use. It is basic lye soap made with 2/3 lard, 1/3 tallow. I rendered both myself. The directions for rendering and cleaning given above are about what I did. For scent, I made a strong tea by simmering a plant that I liked the smell of and used that instead of plain water for dissolving the lye. The smell of the soap is different from the plant and faint, but very pleasant. I will definitely make the soap again, and soon because I'm finally starting to run out. I made about 9 lbs, but it's been well over a year.

-- Laura Jensen (lrjensen@nwlink.com), October 18, 2000.

Here are addresses for the sites I mentioned.... www.lavenderlane.com, & http://www.silverlink.net/~timer. Sorry it took me so long.

-- Cathy Horn (hrnofplnty@webtv.net), October 18, 2000.

ohhh my, I know this is an oldy... but here goes.

She asked about rendering lard. this is how I render lard. I cut the pork fat into small cubes, or grind it through a grinder. I place the pork fat into my big roaster and set it in a slow oven all day, to cook down. I stir it occasionally. When the peices of fat are teeny tiny, I concider it done. I ladle the boiling fat into quart jars and cap, turning upside down to seal. This keeps fine on the canning shelves.

-- daffodyllady (daffodyllady@yahoo.com), August 03, 2001.

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