One of the things folks find most challenging about making lye soap is the long tedious process.
Lets face it, most people don’t have access to a rainwater collection barrel, rendered down animal fat or a tall bucket of potash!
Nowadays we wouldn’t think of going through the rigors of making homemade soap because it’s inexpensive and readily available. But to have soaps that are inexpensive and easy to obtain, their needs to be some sort of a tradeoff. Unfortunately for modern soaps to be inexpensive the ingredients are some weird chemical by-product with coloring agents to make it more appealing to the nose and eyes.
In my opinion- Using a cheap chemical cocktail is not a fair tradeoff for an easy solution to an age old problem!
Just remember…to make soap all you need is fat, water and lye-
Old timers’ used stream water and white wood ash to clean pots and pans. Back in the day this was common practice and worked a charm. Little did they know that their method was also non polluting and good for the environment. This worked great in the field and the process was refined in the home and now could be made into bar soaps and household cleaners.
I wanted to try this for myself
So after messing around with many different hot and cold soap making techniques, I created my own modern recipe that is quick and simple. It starts with the 3 main ingredients...FAT, WATER AND LYE.
For my fat– I use the cheapest commercial lard that I can find.
My water– needed to be distilled and free from any chemicals or heavy minerals.
The lye– I use is in dry pellet form and is %100 percent Sodium Hydroxide.
It’s very stable in this form and can be found in most hardware or supermarkets and its most commonly used to clean drains.
How To Make Lye Soap–
You will need the following items:
- Stainless steel pot (no iron or aluminum)
- Stainless steel spoon
- Plastic spatula
- Hand mixer. A stick blender helps it come to trace faster.
- Bowls to measure fat and water
- Container dedicated to lye water (I use an old plastic bucket)
- Digital scale that weighs in ounces to the tenths place (e.g. 2.3oz)
- Thermometer (I use a cheap laser thermometer)
- Mold to pour soap in
- Wax paper to line mold if necessary
- Towels to cover the mold when finished
***Safety glasses and rubber gloves
Measure ( 7oz) of water and ( 4.4oz) of lye in 2 separate containers, then combine by pouring the lye into the water and stirring until fully dissolved. This should be done in a stainless steel or heavy plastic bowl-
***Note:the liquid is now caustic and be sure not to breathe in the fumes and its best to do this step outside. Don’t be discouraged or scared to use lye. Simply treat it as you would bleach-The chemical reaction when water and sodium hydroxide is mixed results in very high temperatures so both the bowl and lye-water will be scolding hot!
- While the lye-water is cooling outside, melt the lard (32oz) and set aside to cool to 100-120 degrees F.
- Measure fats and lye-water by weight not by volume. I do this on a digital kitchen scale.
***Note: Both fat and lye-water should be between 100-120 degrees F when you’re ready to mix.
Combine fat and lye-water in one large mixing bowl and mix to a pudding like consistency. This is called “trace”. It’s the state at which a spoon pulled through the mixture leaves a slight trace or trial behind. I use a small immersion blender bought specifically for making soap. it was super cheap- like $13 bucks!
When the soap is mixed to trace- simply pour into a mold and cover with a towel for at least 24 hours.
*** I like to use a small loaf pan from the dollar store and line it with wax paper.
It’s the perfect size for the bars I like😊
After 24 hours, remove the soap “log” on to a cutting board and cut into 1″ thick bars. Then transfer to a wire rack and separate the bars for maximum air flow and let set for a few weeks to dry.
***Note: They can be used as bar soap immediately, or you can shred them to use in handmade laundry soap or dish soap after they lose more moisture and are fully cured.
And that’s it😮
You have now made your first batch of old fashioned lye soap…but in a quick and easy way.
Each time you make this soap it will get easier and easier I promise…
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