Traditional Soap MakingIf we ever lose trans-national supply lines and our mega-superstores, the unwashed masses will really be stinking up the place. Wounds will fester and laundry will no longer smell fresh and clean. Add these traditional soap making techniques to your skills and you'll have the market for cleanliness in your local bartering area. This may be one of those posts that you'll want to print out, just in case you ever need to make your own soap!
The 3 Steps of Soap Making
- Making the lye.
- Rendering the fats
- Making the soap
Making The LyeThe lye solution is obtained by placing wood ashes in an ash hopper or a specially modified barrel or bucket, then allowing water to soak, or steep through the ashes. Ash Hopper An ash hopper is a V-shaped bin that is wide at the top and has a narrow sloping bottom, with a small screened opening at the lowest point. This is where the potash drips out into a container, for holding lye. Barrel Method Drill some holes in the bottom of barrel. These holes will allow the lye, or potash to drip out of the barrel so you'll want some form of funnel or catching mechanism to drain the liquid into another container for storage. I mention this because you want to have an idea of how you'll catch the liquid before you start drilling a ton of holes in your barrel or bucket. In the bottom of the barrel add a layer of gravel, then on top of the gravel a layer of straw. These 2 layers will keep your ashes from washing out of the barrel into your lye bucket. The Bag Method Lye can also be made by putting one gallon of ashes in a cloth, tying the top and putting in a granite pan or enameled pan with two gallons of water. Set the pan on your wood stove, to keep it warm, overnight.
Rendering the FatsFat Fact: Fat obtained from cattle is called tallow; fat obtained from pigs is called lard. Tallow and then lard, in that order, are the best fats for soap making! The cleaning of the fats is also called rendering. This will be the stinky part of the soap making operation. Animal fat, must be rendered before decent quality soap can be made from it. Rendering removes all the extra meat tissues in the fat. When making soap from grease saved from cooking, it must also be rendered to remove any impurities that have collected in it. Waste cooking grease saved over a period of time without refrigeration will normally become rancid. Rendering will make the grease "sweeter", and will result in a better smelling soap. Soap made from rancid fats, or grease, will work as well as soap made from clean (or "sweet") fats, but may not be as pleasant to use. Soap making is an outdoor activity. The smell from rendering the fats is much too strong and stinky, to do it indoors.
- To render fats or cooking grease, placed them in a large pan or kettle and add an equal amount of water (note this amount of water, because you'll need the same amount later).
- Place the kettle over an open fire outdoors.
- Boil the mixture of fats and water, until all the fats are melted, then keep on boiling to insure the complete melting of the fat.
- Remove the kettle and mixture from the fire, then add the same amount of water to the kettle, as you did previously.
- Allow the solution to cool overnight.
- By the next day the fats will have solidified and floated to the top, forming a layer of clean fat. All the impurities will have remained in the water underneath the fat layer. This is similar to keeping meat soup or stew in the refrigerator; The next day you have an example of the same type of fat layer on top, just like you'll have on the top of your rendering kettle.