Just a reminder
The soap guy never uses any animal products in his soap.
Thanks to soapmakers.org for the following info.
How To Make Soap
The intention here is to provide the basic data on how to make soap
from the most basic materials. There are many fancier soap recipes which
make better soaps, as long as you have all the ingredients. The first
write-up assumes you can just go to a store and buy the ingredients.
The second only assumes you have some animals you will be butchering
and that you have been burning wood fires and cleverly saved the ashes.
Basic Method [A. This first write-up is taken from Hulda Clark’s book,
"The Cure for All Diseases," pages 529-530.]
A small plastic dishpan, about 10" x 12"
A glass or enamel 2-quart saucepan 1 can of lye (sodium hydroxide),
12 ounces 3 pounds of lard Plastic gloves [really; use eye-protection
1. Pour 3 cups of very cold water (refrigerate water overnight first)
into the 2-quart saucepan.
2. Slowly and carefully add the lye, a little bit at a time, stirring
it with the a wooden or plastic utensil. (Use plastic gloves for this;
test them for holes first.) Do not breathe the vapor or lean over the
container or have children nearby. Above all _use no metal_. The mixture
will get very hot. In olden days, a sassafras branch was used to stir,
imparting a fragrance and insect deterrent for mosquitoes, lice, fleas
3. Let cool at least one hour in a safe place. Meanwhile, the unwrapped
lard should be warming up to room temperature in the plastic dishpan.
4. Slowly and carefully, pour the lye solution into the dishpan with
the lard. The lard will melt. Mix thoroughly, at least 15 minutes, until
it looks like thick pudding.
5. Let it set until the next morning, then cut it into bars. It will
get harder after a few days. Then package. If you wish to make soap
based on olive oil, use about 48 ounces. It may need to harden for a
week. Liquid soap Make chips from your home-made soap cake. Add enough
hot water to dissolve. Add citric acid to balance the pH (7 to 8). If
you do not, this soap may be too harsh for your skin. Basic Method When
There Are No Stores! [This write-up was taken from one done by Marietta
Ellis concerning the soap-making practices of colonial America, with
the tense mainly changed from the past into the present.] Saponification
is a very big chemical word for the rather complex but easy to create
soap making reaction. Saponification is what happens when a fatty acid
meets an alkali. When fats or oils, which contain fatty acids are mixed
with a strong alkali, the alkali first splits the fats or oils into
their two major parts fatty acids and glycerin. After this splitting
of the fats or oils, the sodium or potassium part of the alkali joins
with the fatty acid part of the fat or oils. This combination is then
the potassium or sodium salt of the fatty acid. As we said at the start,
this is soap.
Soap Making Takes Three Basic Steps
1.Making of the wood ash lye.
2.Rendering or cleaning the fats.
3.Mixing the fats and lye solution together and boiling the mixture
to make the soap. First Let's Make The Lye In making soap the first
ingredient required is a liquid solution of potash commonly called lye.
The lye solution was obtained by placing wood ashes in a bottomless
barrel set on a stone slab with a groove and a lip carved in it. The
stone in turn rested on a pile of rocks. To prevent the ashes from getting
in the solution a layer of straw and small sticks was placed in the
barrel then the ashes were put on top. The lye was produced by slowly
pouring water over the ashes until a brownish liquid oozed out the bottom
of the barrel. This solution of potash lye was collected by allowing
it to flow into the groove around the stone slab and drip down into
a clay vessel at the lip of the groove. Some colonists used an ash hopper
for the making of lye instead of the barrel method. The ash hopper,
was kept in a shed to protect the ashes from being leached unintentionally
by a rain fall. Ashes were added periodically and water was poured over
at intervals to insure a continuous supply of lye. The lye dripped into
a collecting vessel located beneath the hopper. [Use whatever you have
available or can make.] Now The Fats Are Prepared The preparation of
the fats or grease to be used in forming the soap is the next step.
This consists of cleaning the fats and grease of all other impurities
contained in them. The cleaning of fats is called rendering and is the
smelliest part of the soap making operation. Animal fat, when removed
from the animals during butchering, must be rendered before soap of
any satisfactory quality can be made from it. This rendering removes
all meat tissues that still remain in the fat sections. Fat obtained
from cattle is called tallow while fat obtained from pigs is called
lard. If soap is being made from grease saved from cooking fires, it
is also rendered to remove all impurities that have collected in it.
The waste cooking grease being saved over a period of time without the
benefits of refrigeration usually become rancid, so this cleaning step
is very important to make the grease sweeter. It will result in a better
smelling soap. The soap made from rancid fats or grease will work just
as well as soap made from sweet and clean fats but not be as pleasant
to have around and use. To render, fats and waste cooking grease are
placed in a large kettle and an equal amount of water is added. Then
the kettle is placed over the open fire outdoors. Soap making is an
outside activity. The smell from rendering the fats is too strong to
wish in anyone's house. The mixture of fats and water are boiled until
all the fats have melted. After a longer period of boiling to insure
completion of melting the fats, the fire is stopped and into the kettle
is placed another amount of water about equal to the first amount of
water. The solution is allowed to cool down and left over night. By
the next day the fats have solidified and floated to the top forming
a layer of clean fat. All the impurities being not as light as the fat
remain in water underneath the fat. You may have observed this in your
own kitchen. When a stew or casserole containing meat has been put in
the refrigerator, you could see the next day the same fat layer. Finally
The Soap Making Can Begin In another large kettle or pot the fat is
placed with the amount of lye solution determined to be the correct
amount. This is easier said than done. We will discuss it more later.
Then this pot is placed over a fire again outdoors and boiled. This
mixture is boiled until the soap is formed. This is determined when
the mixture boils up into a thick frothy mass, and a small amount placed
on the tongue causes no noticeable "bite". This boiling process could
take up to six to eight hours depending on the amount of the mixture
and the strength of the lye. Soft and Hard Soap Soap made with wood
ash lye does not make a hard soap but only a soft soap. When the fire
is put out and the soap mixture allowed to cool, the next day reveals
a brown jelly like substance that feels slippery to the touch, makes
foam when mixed with water, and cleans. This is the soft soap the colonists
had done all their hard work to produce. The soft soap is then poured
into a wooden barrel and ladled out with a wooden dipper when needed.
To make hard soap, common salt is thrown in at the end of the boiling.
If this is done a hard cake of soap forms in a layer at the top of the
pot. As common salt may be expensive and hard to get, it is not usually
wasted to make hard soap. Common salt is more valuable to give to the
livestock and the preserving of foods. Soft soap works just as well
as hard and for these reasons the colonists, making their own soap,
did not make hard soap bars. In towns and cities where there were soap
makers making soap for sale, the soap could be converted to the hard
soap by the addition of salt. As hard bars it will be easier to store
and transport. Hard bars produced by the soap maker were often scented
with oils such as lavender, wintergreen, or caraway and were sold as
toilet soap to persons living in the cities or towns. Hard soap is not
cut into small bars and wrapped as has been familiar. Soap made by the
soap makers is poured into large wooden frames and removed when cooled
and hard. The amount of soap a customer wants can be cut from the large
bar. Soap is sold usually by the pound. Small wrapped bars were not
available until the middle of the 19th century [nor maybe shortly after
the end of the 20th]. Difficulties in Making Soap The hardest part is
in determining if the lye is of the correct strength, as we have said.
In order to learn this, the soap maker floats either a potato or an
egg in the lye. If the object floats with a specified amount of its
surface above the lye solution, the lye is declared fit for soap making.
Most of the colonists felt that lye of the correct strength would float
a potato or an egg with an area the size of a modern quarter above the
surface. To make a weak lye stronger, the solution can either be boiled
down more or the lye solution can be poured through a new batch of ashes.
To make a solution weaker, water is added [more data to be added here
on how to determine the correct strength of lye]. A Pennsylvania Dutch
recipe once carefully warned that a sassafras stick was the only kind
of implement suitable for stirring the mixture [see Hulda Clark comment
above re sassafras] and the stirring must be done always in the same
direction [?]. Not Always Done Down On The Farm Soap making as a trade
had grown in direct proportion with the growth of the colonies. Even
in the very early days there were tradesmen making and selling soap,
who were called soapboilers. Since tallow was the main ingredient for
both soap and candles, many tradesmen were producers of both. These
tradesmen were called chandlers. Potash and Pearlash Trade Soap making
and the manufacture of potash and pearlashes were closely related trades
of colonial America. Pearlash, purified potash, because of its many
industrial uses, was an important item of export for the colonies. Pearlash,
in addition to soap making, was used for making glass both in the colonies
and in Europe.... Potash is the residue remaining after all the water
has been driven off from the lye solution obtained from the leaching
of wood ashes. Pearlash is then made from the potash by baking it in
a kiln until all the carbon impurities were burned off. The fine, white
powder remaining was the Pearlash....