new things" for this winter was making soap. I had tried making soap several years ago with rather dismal results. This summer, I watched my friend, Jesalynn make soap. She made it look so simple that I had to try again.
Since we have lots of lard from butchering, I wanted to find a recipe using all lard, instead of other oils. I'm going to share my recipe and the results from the three times that I used it. But take note that I didn't include directions. Please find soap making directions else where (there is many online) before making soap yourself. I don't feel like I know enough about soap making to teach someone else. Take particular note of the safety cautions. Lye is dangerous and must be used carefully.
One of my past problems was the endless stirring to get the soap to "trace". Before making soap this time, I invested in a stick blender. This made a HUGE difference and I wouldn't suggest trying soap making without this tool.
Basic Lard Soap
40 oz lard
15 oz water
5.23 oz lye
These were my basic ingredients for each batch.
Batch One - Basic Homesteader Soap
I used the basic soap ingredients without any additives. I was hoping for a basic soap like my grandma made that would be good for laundry, stain removal, and poison ivy.
I was surprised how easy it was. Really the worse part was assembling my ingredients and supplies. I waited until the children were napping and mixed the lye and water out on the deck. While the lye water cooled, I melted the lard on my kitchen stove. When they had cooled to the same temperature, I stirred the two together using brief pulses with the stick blender. In less then five minutes the soap was tracing and I poured into the mold.
The next morning, I dumped the soap out of the mold and cut into bars. I was disappointed to find that the soap was dry and brittle and didn't cut into nice bars. A call to Jesalynn determined the cause may have been too much lye. I didn't have a very accurate scales. Since I've been wanting a digital scales anyway, before my next batch I put in an order to Amazon. I bought the My Weigh digital scale and LOVE it.
Batch Two -Honey Oatmeal Soap
With the help of my digital scales, measuring the ingredients was much easier. For the second batch I used the basic ingredients above and added 4 oz beeswax, 8 T ground oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 oz honey. I melted the beeswax with the lard but when I tried to cool it down, it kept hardening. I ended up mixing the lye water in with the lard before it was down to my temperature goal (which I forget and I gave the book I was following away.) Immediately the soap traced. I didn't know if it was just my oil thickening since it wasn't the right temperature or what. I continued to blend the soap for ten minutes any way to make sure it wouldn't separate.I then added the other oatmeal, cinnamon and honey before pouring into the mold
The next morning, this soap was perfect. It sliced wonderfully. I love the texture of the oatmeal and would definitely try this recipe again.
Batch Three - Odor Eater Soap
The addition of coffee in soap is supposed to rid your hands of onion odors. I don't know if it works but the flecks of coffee to look nice!
I used the basic soap recipe and added 6 T of coffee just before pouring into the molds. This batch had trouble coming to a trace. I stirred and blended for probably near a half an hour and it still didn't look as good as the other batches.
This time I poured the soap into well-greased muffin tins. I like how the soap looks but it was such a pain to get out of the tins that I doubt I'll ever try this again.
Batch Four - Hand Milled Chocolate Milk Soap
My first batch looked so poorly that I tried to think of a way to salvage it. I decided to try hand milled soap. In hand milled soap, you grate bars of soap, add water and remelt. You can add fragrance without worrying about the lye tracing. I used 12 oz of grated Batch One soap with 9 oz milk and 1/2 oz baking chocolate.
My first problem was that I waited a month after making the soap. The soap was dry and hard and no fun to grate. Melting took forever and the few slivers that I didn't melt all the way are now bold white spots in my soap. When the soap dried, it shrank and the bars are skinny in the middle. And the final problem, though they look like a big bar of fudge, they don't smell like anything at all, and my husband says it is very strange to have your wash cloth turn brown from your soap, though he admits, it does make you clean.
I doubt I'll try hand milled soap again, unless it is with fresh easily grated soap. I'm not sure what I'll do with my first batch, maybe use it in detergent?
So that is my soap making experience. In all, it was a lot of fun and far easier then I expected. I've enjoyed giving soap away and hardly have any nice bars left. But we'll be using the scraps and flops for a very long time so I don't expect to make soap again anytime soon.
Since lard is basically a waste product that I have in unlimited supply, this soap was very economical (unless you count the purchase of a stick blender and digital scales - that I've been using for far more than just soap!) I would love to make some with essential oils but at this point I was trying to make do with what I had in my kitchen.
Have any of you tried making soap?