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Soap self-sufficiency

I was excited by the idea of making soap using our cows milk.  I thought that was another great self-sufficient product that we could add to the list.  I bought a book about making milk soap and I read it.  I was so very DISAPPOINTED to find out that milk would be a minor ingredient in the soap.  I would still need to use a fat or oil and lye.  Well, I don't regularly produce any fats or oils here, so it wouldn't be very self-sufficient to buy fats or oils (not to mention the lye) in order to make soap.  Having found out the realities of soap making, I decided that I'd rather just buy nice soap from someone and support a local business, than fuss about making my own, so we get our soap from the farmers market at the moment.

However, now that I have learnt so much more about soap, I am wondering about a self-sufficient source of fat/oil.  We did have a wheel-barrow of fat from the steer that we had killed recently and we did try to render it.  It didn't work, but I can absolutely tell you how NOT to render it!  Don't stick all the big chunks in a big pot over a roaring fire, it will just burn and go disgusting and be no good to anyone!  Having since read about rendering on the internet, I now know that we should have chopped it into small pieces, cut out all the meat, and heated it very gently.  This would have made brilliant soap, with a bit of essential oil to disguise the beefy smell :)  We will try to get it right next time (if not for soap, at least for cooking).

How NOT to render!  Large chunks and bits of meat are BAD.  Hot fire is BAD.
As for the lye, I have read that wood ash can be used instead, however being mostly potassium hydroxide, rather an sodium hydroxide, the soap won't go solid.  Still its worth a try even to make a liquid soap, then it would be totally a self-sufficient soap (apart from the essential oils, although my husband has a still that we could use to extract lavender oil from lavender growing in our garden!  Am I taking it too far now?).

In the meantime, I will be buying locally hand-made soap (even though I'm sure the ingredients are not local, relatively its better than mass produced soap).

Do you make soap?  What ingredients do you use?

For more information, see these posts:
Rendering fat in a slow cooker
Making soap from beef tallow

Comments

  1. def not taking it to far if you enjoy the process

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading this! Your quest to self-sufficiency is inspiring.

    I reckon it would be neat to use soap entirely made from products grown on your own land. Can you grow roses? You could chuck a couple of those in there to. Although I think it takes something like a thousand petals to make a small bottle of rose essential oil.

    Anyway, good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is just to let you know that I have passed on some bloggy love to you today.
    Please head over and have a look.
    Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was just wondering yesterday about making lavender oil as we have two lavender bushes going CRAZY in our backyard!
    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  5. if you add lime to your homemade lye it will make hard bars

    ReplyDelete

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