Several people wrote and asked for recipes and instructions when I mentioned soap making in October of 2007 on this blog. I'm finally getting around to posting the recipes. I will be happy to answer questions if I can. I have made soap for many years and yet consider myself a novice. I have only tried a few recipes. I'm including two recipes. The process is the same for most recipes I have used. Soapmaking is a wonderful fulfilling craft.
Homemade Lavender Soap
34 oz. olive oil
24 oz. vegetable shortening
28 oz. coconut oil
10 3/4 oz. lye be sure it is 100% lye
4 cups cold water in large 1 gallon glass jar
At least 1 thermometer which measures 90-110 degrees
Temperature is very important.
Large stainless steel or enamel pot
One 2-3 inch deep box or glass 9X13 pan Line with a black trash bag
1 scale which measures ounces accurately
2 wooden spoons
essential oil for fragrance 1-2 oz. (optional)
lavender or herbs if desired
Fill two sinks with cold water. Line your box with black plastic
Mix the lye with the water very carefully pouring the lye into the cold water in the large jar stirring with the wooden spoon. This mixture will get very hot. Do not breathe or touch it. When the lye is completely dissolved set the jar full of lye IN one sink of cold water. Let set for a while maybe 1/2 hour.
While the lye is in the cold water put coconut oil and shortening in a stainless steel or enamel pot on low heat stirring frequently. When it has all melted remove from heat and add olive oil. Now place the melted fats in the other sink of cold water.
Now the hard part. You must measure the lye mixture and the fat mixture. You want both mixtures to be exactly 95-98 degrees. No more no less. If your lye gets too cold before the oil cools sufficiently you will have to heat the lye a little by putting the jar in a large container of hot water.
When both temperatures are between 95 and 98 degrees slowly pour the lye mixture into the fat mixture stirring constantly in a circular pattern until all of the lye is stirred into the fat. You must now stir continuously for up to 30 minutes or more until it traces. To determine trace you lift up the spoon and drizzle some on top of the mixture. When it reaches trace it will stay visible before it sinks back into the rest of the mixture. I usually trace an "s" after I have stirred a while. It must trace so be sure. During this stirring process it will change color to an almost white mixture. After trace then you add your essential oils and herbs. Now pour your soap into your prepared mold. Cover the pan with a lid or board and a heavy quilt or blanket. Do not disturb for at least 16 hours. Uncover and let it set for another 10-12 hours before removing the soap. You may then cut it or shape it into balls. Let it cure for 2-3 weeks.
Plain Old Lye Soap
1 can Red Devil lye
2 1/2 pints of distilled water
10 cups lard or beef tallow (I have always used lard for this recipe)
As with the first recipe slowly pour the lye into the water (remember it will get very hot) Do not breathe this!!!
Set in the cold water to cool down or set aside away from children.
Measure the lard and melt slowly.
After these are both done you need to check the temperatures as in the other recipe. When the temperatures are between 95 and 98 slowly pour the lye water into the fat and stir until trace.
If it is not getting thick after stirring a while then leave it alone for 10 minutes or so and stir some more. Usually I have no trouble with this one it traces very fast. The other one sometimes takes a while.
After it traces pour it into your plastic lined mold and cover with a board and blanket and set in a warm place for 24 hours. Uncover If it is set then turn it out on a protected surface. It will eat up your table if you do not protect it well! Cut with a sharp knife and allow it to cure for two weeks. It is now ready to use.
My mother made lye soap when I was very young. I never knew how she did it.
To speed the trace and save your arms, just use a stick blender. It makes soapmaking quick and easy. Enjoy!
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