There is something to be said about the good ˜ol days. Times were simple and hard work was recognized and appreciated. I have always had a fascination with Pioneer arts. These days there are so many products available that we simply pick up at the supermarket, when we could make them at home with a bit of effort. What we're missing out on is that sense of satisfaction that comes from doing the work ourselves and a whole lot of fun!
This is a simple recipe for about a dozen bars of homemade soap. Save a few for yourself and share some with friends and neighbors and watch them smile in appreciation of the effort you put into making your own soap!
Here is what you need:
4 cups lard (you can use 4 cups of any “fat”, lard, olive oil, etc.)
1 1/2 cups distilled cold water (you can use tap water, but if you have hard water you will find that your soap will lack a good lather)
1/2 lye (bought in the plumbing section of a home improvement store)
4 TBS honey (optional)
3/4 cup oatmeal, whirred in blender (optional)
20 drops of honey almond soap scent (optional)
Equipment needed: 3 glass bowls, wooden spoon (or an electric mixer for use only in soapmaking…do not use it with food after mixing lye), rubber gloves, dishsoap, vinegar, wax paper or petroleum jelly, stainless steel candy thermometer, and some sort of mold (I used a bread pan)
The most important things to know when working with lye are the safety precautions. My suggestion is to do as much research on soap making as you can. Your local library should have a good resource section or you can use the internet. However, don't be scared off by all the safety precautions linked to soap making, keeping these precautions in mind will help keep you safe!
Primary Safety Measures:
~Always mix lye wearing gloves, while keeping your face away from the bowl. I prefer to wear my gloves start to finish, so that I avoid any contact with my skin.
~Never use any metal utensils or bowls other than stainless steel. Lye can react poorly with metal, so unless the bowl or utensil is marked that it is stainless steel, don't use it! Use glass or wood utensils, and glass bowls. Be sure to mark whatever bowls and utensils you are using, so that you do not use them for anything but soap making!
~Keep a bowl of 1 part soapy water (dishsoap works great) to 1 part vinegar to neutralize any lye spills, and to put your utensils in after you mix up the lye. I have only had lye come into contact with my skin once, and I immediately dunked my hand into my vinegar solution and was able to neutralize the burn before it did any damage to my skin.
~Always make soap in a well ventilated area and do not breathe in the vapors in the beginning stages of soap making.
Knowing these few things can keep you safe while your making your soap!
This recipe should make about a dozen bars. After purchasing all my supplies, the cost per bar was about 33 cents.
Melt lard, and let cool to 120 degrees. You can do this in the microwave or on the stove top.
Place water in a separate glass or heavy plastic (non melting) bowl. Carefully add 1/2 cup lye and stir with wooden spoon (wear gloves, and do this in a very, well ventilated area, it will heat up on it’s own and start to steam, you want to be sure you steer clear of the vapors). Let lye solution cool to about 90 degrees.
Once both are cooled, add your additives to the fat solution (oatmeal, honey & scent) and stir in.
Carefully add lye mixture to fat and begin to stir. Stir constantly, until mixture reaches the consistency of pudding. You can hand stir this or you can use an electric mixer on low. However, note that if you use a mixer, you will no longer be able to use that mixer with food. So be sure not to use your normal kitchen mixer.
Pour into prepared molds. In the beginning, I did not want to purchase expensive molds, so I simply used a pyrex glass bread pan lined with waxed paper. If you choose to use a bread pan as your mold, you can use it again with food after cleaning. Due to the soaponification process, at this point, the lye has been neutralized.
Let the soap dry in the mold for 24 hours. Remove from pan and remove waxed paper and cut into bars. Place the bars on a drying rack, or stacked in a pyramid form so that air can circulate through the bars. I usually turn them every few days to ensure even drying. Allow them to cure for at least 3 weeks before using.
This is a simple and wonderful soap recipe. After using it for a few months, I would not go back to using detergent based, store bought soaps that have a drying effect on your skin. This soap has great moisturizing properties and the best part is the satisfaction you have in knowing that you learned a new skill!