|melting the fats|
So I did. . . . after checking out numerous books from the library, reading some conflicting information online, making copious notes, and waiting for a time at home alone (not wise to work with lye around little kids who don't understand how caustic it is or how the fumes can get around).
I bought coconut oil from the Latino store nearby. I bought lye from the hardware store in the town where I work. I borrowed a digital scales because I have an old-school scales that I love and couldn't justify another scales for what might turn out to be a one-time use. I already owned a stick blender, an instant-read thermometer and a candy thermometer; the tallow was a waste-product from making stock, and I keep the distilled water on hand for my iron.
I lined a cardboard box with pieces of heavy plastic I cut from a bag. This was my mold.
I read my notes one more time, set out all the equipment, and off I went! The actual soapmaking process is pretty simple: make the fats melted and warm, add the lye to water and get the temperature down to warm, blend the fats with the lye/water until thickened, pour in a soap mold, cut into bars after 24 hours, cure for 6 weeks.
|the cardboard mold on top of my fridge for 24 hours - I'm afraid that's how my fridge usually looks|
If you're going to make soap, however, do not rely on me for directions, but consider this post inspiration and introduction only. I highly recommend Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson, although I did not bother to test the finished bars with pH strips, nor did I get completely suited with protective gear when I handled the lye but rather acted with caution and purpose as my grandmothers would have. I wore gloves and an old apron.
Tallow Blend Soap
22 oz. tallow
10 oz. olive oil
10 oz. coconut oil
5.8 oz. lye crystals
16 oz. distilled water
The soap is pale green because when I make stock, I add vegetable tops and the resulting stock and fat has a shade of green in it. I did not add scent because I love subtly scented soap such as shea butter, honey, oatmeal, or goat's milk.
Now the soap is sitting on its plant nursery tray in a closet to cure. It is drying out and hardening up some more. I can't wait to get out the first bar next year! There was a little piece stuck in the corner of the plastic bag, so I stuck that on my kitchen bar and it seems to be quite nice. I'm a little surprised that I made soap and it works!
I'm adding this to my list of homemaking skills and probably when I've saved enough waste-fat, I'll make soap again.