This is a guest post by Debbie Olson
[This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win a number of prizes including an 84 serving storage bucket of Wise Food Storage, 500 rounds of 9mm ammo, a NukAlert a copy of my book The Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat and a copy of my CD It’s The End Of The World As We Know It – And I Feel Fine . For complete rules and list of prizes see this post.]
I am a professional soap maker, it’s my job, my business, it’s what I do. But I don’t make soap like most people do. Yes I carefully measure everything by weight and use the scary lye stuff. What I do different is make soap super cheap. I often hear people say they would love to make soap but using lye is scary. Well it can be but everything is scary and hard the first time you do it.
Just use safety precautions like plastic gloves and goggles and you will be fine. I always wear an apron as well.When I first learned how to make soap it was from my neighbors.They taught me all about cooling the lye water in a sink of cold water and measuring everything very carefully. They also used expensive oils to make the soap. At that time it cost about $20.00 to make a batch of soap.
Granted it is a 7 – pound batch that cuts up into about 30 bars but still, its more than I like to spend.After making soap the way I was taught for over a year I started to experiment. Why couldn’t I use used cooking oil to make my soap? My family all loved my soap by this time and about had a fit when I told them I was changing my recipe.
The first thing I did was go to a friend who owned a restraint and asked them to save me a 5 gallon bucket of oil when they changed the oil in the fryer. I brought a bucket with my name and phone number written on the top. When they changed out the oil they called me and I went and picked up my new treasure.
The first batch I made I was quite nervous as you can imagine. Afterall who is going to want to buy soap that smells like french frys?Add that to the fact that it takes 3 weeks to cure so I had to wait and wait before I could even try it.Finally, three weeks were up and I took a bar into the shower.Smelled just like my other soap did.
That’s a good sign. Wow, it really lathered. It made my skin feel softer and smoother too. But what would my family think?I took a few bars to the next family gathering, all of my extended family uses my soap. They all said I never should have messed with perfection. I begged them to just try my new formula.They did and guess what? They all said they like it better than the original formula. Well I’ll be. That is how I make all my soap now. No more expensive oils. Just lye, water and used cooking oil. Who would have thunk it?
If you would like to try making soap here is the recipe I use.First gather all your ingredients and supplies. Once you get started there is no turning back so be ready. Measure out your lye, water and oils before you begin in separate containers. I use empty cottage cheese or butter containers for the lye and water. Be sure to use a good scale and set you’re weight for the container you are using. For the oil I use the large ice-cream buckets Make a box to use as a mold.
My husband made mine. The inside dimensions are 8 inches by 9 inches. He used 1×4’s for the sides with a solid bottom and made a solid lid to hold in the heat. That way I don’t haveto use towels or blankets to cover after the soap is poured.All Purpose Soap.12 oz. lye (I use drain cleaner that is 100% lye)5 lb. oils I just hold a wire strainer over the container I am measuring the oil into 32 oz. (2lbs.) water(When I am making goats milk soap I use fresh goats milk instead of water,it needs to be very cold.
It will turn a beautiful yellow and then to a tan/brown. I wish it would stay the lovely yellow.) 2 oz fragrance½ to ¾ cup chopped oats (optional)2- thermometers (candy thermometers work fine)Measure everything by weight.Line molds with freezer paper (shiny side up) or parchment paper or use saran wrap or even line mold with a damp cotton cloth, like a torn up sheet or pillow case.
Have some vinegar close by in case any of the lye mixture splashes on you,if that happens quickly pour vinegar over the affected area and it stops the action of the lye.Prepare all ingredients before starting process.Run sink part way full of cold water and set plastic container of water or partially frozen goats milk into sink.
Slowly pour measured lye into water or goats milk while stirring. I use plastic or wooden utensils to stir with, do not use metal. One thing that helps with the discoloring is to partially freeze the milk if using that instead of water and very slowly pour the lye into the cold milk stirring constantly.When lye or goat milk water is at 140 degrees, slowly add lye water/milk to oils while mixing with stick blender.
When mixture comes to trace add fragrance, color and other add ingredients desired. Trace is when you can turn off the blender, lift it up and make an impression that stays in the mixture. It will look like thick brown gravy.You need to work quickly because for some reason when you use used cooking oil trace comes quickly.
Be sure all added ingredients are mixed well into the soap.Cover with parchment or freezer paper and a couple of towels or a blanket orif you made a solid wood lid just use that.Let sit undisturbed 24 hours.At this time remove soap from mold and slice into bars of the desired size.When I remove the soap from the molds I cut it into 4 bars 2 inches wide. Or3 bars 3 inches wide.I then slice it into 1 inch pieces.I use a miter box, to cut the soap into one inch pieces.
Let cure for three weeks before using. I just place the cut bars so they don’ttouch on a rack somewhere out of the way where they won’t be disturbed.This recipe makes approx. 30-36 bars of soap and fills one 8X9 inch mold.Go ahead and try it yourself.Tip- if you use used oil from home it most likely won’t be as broken down as oil that has been used in a fryer and will take longer to come to trace.
I love used cooking oil.I have a friend who is a chemist so I run my crazy ideas by him before I get too far gone with them. My husband has a love/hate relationship with my ideas. He knows many are good ones but there have been a few….well letsjust say they didn’t work out nearly as well as this one did.