I made soap!

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I'm so proud of myself, I just made soap! All of a sudden this weekend I just wanted to try my hand at this, so I've been reading up on it. What I'd like to do eventually is make my own lye from wood ashes, but I didn't want to make things too difficult for myself until I knew what I was doing. It was so simple really. I went to the butcher yesterday and asked for some suet. Brought it home and melted it down. I found a simple recipe for a single bar so I could play around a bit.

1/2 cup cold water

2 heaping Tablespoons lye

1 cup melted beef fat

The lye made me a bit nervous at first. I took it outside to mix it with the water. I wore safety glasses and rubber gloves! I didn't have a single probelm. I took the lye/water and added it to the melted fat, mixed it with a stick mixer and within 5 minutes had soap! It smells just like Ivory! So then I played around with adding lanolin and scent. I even added a crayon to make green soap. What fun! I'm too impatient though. I want to take some up to the shower with me. I'll probably burn my skin off.

What got me to thinking about making soap was that my town has a tiny old one room school house (I started school in it), complete with attached outhouse. Ahhh, the memories! We converted it into a Historical Society buidling. The lady who mainly runs it is feeling too old to run it much longer and is looking for someone to take over. I turned her down initially, but suddenly I had all these thoughts about teaching the younger generation how folks used to do things. I think it might be fun to organize some sort of living history for the kids. Make it a hands on experience type of learning. I was thinking of all the things we could do like making maple syrup, old fashioned sleigh rides in winter, and soap making. Stuff like that. Well, I'll have to think on that some more. Anyway, I'm just tickled to have made my very own soap.

-- Nancy in Maine (paintme61@yahoo.com), November 06, 2001


congrats of the soap,, neat huh? DOnt forget to let it set for 2 weeks,, or you will burn your skin off. The knew archeology (?) trend is to dig out the old outhouse,,see whats inside,, what was "flushed" into hiding,,, might be a neat project for you to do,, "medicenal" bottles,, and child shoes, along with some sears catalougues (that havnt rotted) are whats found the most. Hope you have fun

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), November 06, 2001.

Now yor making me want to go and dig the pig fat from the freezer !

-- Patty {NY State} (fodfarms@slic.com), November 06, 2001.

Oh gawd yuck! Stan, I think I'll be passing up that experience. Some things are best left forgotten. :)

-- Nancy in Maine (paintme61@yahoo.com), November 06, 2001.


I can't believe this simple recipe would work! I have always wanted to do this and now I see it's so simple I must!! I'm waiting though for my goat to be big enough to produce milk for goats milk soap.

Is this more of a washing soap or a body soap?

The historical Society thing is just ripe with possible ideas. I'll bet if you post a question here about suggestions for attracting children you'd not only get alot of great ideas but also find folks who are already doing this.

-- Ann Markson (tngreenacres@hotmail.com), November 06, 2001.

Great Nancy!! I didn't know you could make such a small batch. Glad you brought up the soap making. I made a batch of soap about 5 years ago from a recipe in Countryside. I made the big mistake of passing on a big stack of magazines to some neighbors who was just starting out homesteading. They no longer have the magazines and I didn't write down the recipes. One was using goat milk and oatmeal, one was lard and rosemary. There were several recipes in the artical. Anyone have old issues of Countryside? About 1995.

-- Belle (gardenbelle@terraworld.net), November 06, 2001.

Hello Nancy, My wife, (Meli) adds borax and a fragrance to her's. It make for a softer and more bubbly type of lye soap. Congrads on reviving a dying art. Sincerely, Ernest

-- http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks (espresso42@hotmail.com), November 06, 2001.

CAN YOU USE FLAT BACKS FROM PIGS?? I'm going to have to do this soon.. Carrie

-- Carrie (onemaur@olg.com), November 06, 2001.

Carrie, I used hog fat from the butcher. Rendered it my self. Then used the recipe that I can't find. Hog fat is a good thing.

-- Belle (gardenbelle@terraworld.net), November 06, 2001.

Do you have to use animal fat? Can you use vegetable oil?

-- Iris (Sar_India@msn.com), November 06, 2001.

Ann, I'm really new to this lye soap business, but I'm assuming that simple recipe was an all purpose soap. You can mold it into bars and use it in the shower, or grate it and use it for laudry.

Ernest, thanks for the suggestion. You can bet that my next batch will have borax in it. :)

Iris, over the past few days I've read a lot of information on soap making. I'm certainly no expert, but you can use many many different types of fat. I used beef fat because it's supposed to make a nice firm bar. Vegetable oils gereally make softer bars. Different oils also do different things to/for the skin. as do other additives. There are about a zillion recipes on the Net. Some people are really into this hobby big time, selling their soaps for $1/ounce. Really.

-- Nancy in Maine (paintme61@yahoo.com), November 07, 2001.

I have a large family, plus, I am wanting to try my hand at selling soap, so I worked up a recipe for a large batch of soap. This uses the whole container of lye, so you don't have to measure it out.

8 1/2 lbs of lard (one large container lard, a couple of scoops of lard from a smaller container)

18 oz lye

52 (6 1/2 cups) liquid

My favorite is the milk soap. My hubby's favorite is the plain white soap, the girls like the milk/oatmeal soap. :-) I am planning to make up some minty soap and cammomile soap after I get over this bronchitis/pnuemonia. I am too tired to stir today, but I have been itching to get in and make more soap! argh!!

-- Cindy in Ok (cynthiacluck@yahoo.com), November 10, 2001.

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