Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Dirty Secret of Soap Making Ingredients

Many people might be horrified to learn what soap is made from. The wonderful,lovely smelling cleaner is really an amazing chemical concoction of sodium hydroxide (lye{drain cleaner}) and fats ; in my soaps I usually use a combination of animal(beef and pork fats) and plant oils(coconut,and olive).

Just a little simple science, acids and bases combine to form a new substance ,soap;  lye is base and fats and oils are acids,that's all you really need to know as a homestead soapmaker.

Finding the ingredients was the biggest challenge I had as a novice soapmaker.
So the first step in soapmaking  should be to obtain ingredients.

The recipe for plain white bar soap is
32 ounces olive oil
74 ounce mixed animal fats rendered into tallow
14 oz of Lye
 41 ounces of water
Your choice of additives(fragrances,colors,etc.)

The best place to find Lye is the Ace Hardware drain cleaner section. It is sold in 14 oz plastic cans and is labeled 100% lye.Lye can be made from wood ash but that's another topic for another day.

Animal Fats can be obtained from the meat department most grocery stores or a local butcher for a nominal fee. I have gotten some for free, some for 5 cents a pound , and some for 20 cents a pound. It is a good idea to call ahead to see which stores have fat available
To get 74 ounces of tallow you will need  about 5 pounds of fat scrapss,however, I recommend getting as much fat at once as possible and freezing the unneeded amount of rendered tallow.
s:// the next post I will give you detailed instructions on how to render fat into usable tallow for soapmaking.