Making Cold Process Bar Soap From Scratch
Crock Pot Hot Process Tutorial
Miller's Homemade Soap Pages (information about animal by-products for soap)
The ingredients to make hand-made, home-made bar soap from scratch can be a bit daunting. Some you will have already if you do any cooking at home, others will have to be picked up from the store. I am very interested in making lye from wood ashes, to make the soap even more home-made.
You will need lye. I was able to find it at Lowe's for two pounds at $15. Actually I had to go to two stores to find it, strangely it was available at the more urban location rather than the rural. The gentleman at the more rural location told me that it is used for "other things" and that they rarely carried it. Well, it turns out that sodium hydroxide has an off-label use for making meth. And soap. This has inspired me to do some research and I have discovered an easy way to make lye from more readily available ingredients - read all about it here.
You will need oils. They can be vegetable-based, for vegetarian types, or animal-based, for the rest of us. The most economical way to get oils is to grow animals for your own consumption, and harvest the fats from the suprarenal area for soap making. Animal fats will have to be rendered. Then there is the grocery store route - lard can be used, whether fresh from the butcher or packaged. Almost all oils at the grocery store can be used for making soap. One of the best is coconut oil, which is added for it's bubbly factor. Wesson is made from GMO soy, so if you are avoiding those products please be aware. Olive oil is used for making castile-type soap. GV Crisco from Wal-Mart is reportedly made from vegetable oils. Palm oil products have been in the news because the trees are not being sustainably harvested (sounds like a permaculture farm just waiting to happen, right?)
You will need a mixer. An immersion blender is the best.
You will need a mold for the soap to harden in. Then the soap will need some curing time after removing from the mold.
You will need a scale. It is very important the ingredients are weighed so that they can be mixed with the lye in the proper ratios. Although the oil component to the recipe is highly variable, the oil-to-lye ratio is not. Too much oil will leave your soap oily and sticky, too much lye will dry or even burn skin.
My first batch: one pound of soap
Lye (63 g)
Water (172 g)
Olive Oil - 65% (295 g)
Coconut Oil - 20% (91 g)
Soybean Oil - 10% (45 g)
Canola Oil - 5% (23 g)
My next planned experiment with soaping will be using a very similar, if not the same, recipe, but using juiced, homegrown aloe and cow or goat's milk as the water ingredient. I'm planning all kinds of crazy things though, like maybe rose or hibiscus or honeysuckle petals for color and condition. And beer soap with home-grown sorghum for gifts.
Laundry detergent is very simple to make at home, and the ingredients are shelf-stable as long as they are kept in airtight containers.
One bar of soap (Fels-Naptha, Ivory, or homemade)
One cup of Borax
One cup of Washing Soda
Hot water to fill 10 gallons
10 gallons worth of jugs to hold all this soap
Finely grate the bar soap (I used a blender) and with some water, melt (without boiling) all the soap pieces on the stove. Then add the soap water, washing soda, and borax to a five-gallon bucket, add more hot water, and mix thoroughly. Keep adding hot water, and mixing. When the five-gallon bucket is full, start using the mixture to fill up your jugs halfway. Top off your jugs with hot tap water.
Give each jug a quick shake before dispensing, use half a cup or less for large, cold loads.
It turns out that stucco works very well for casting tiny bricks. The consensus online is that you must use hydrostone or dental plaster, but both are very expensive. Stucco, on the other hand, is just as easy to prepare, cheap, and readily available.
The pond water has finally switched from anaerobic bacterial growth (likely a direct result of the Great Manure Spill of 2013) to a pleasant algae soup. The betta fish passed away after about 6 months of pond life, we have replaced him with two small comet goldfish. They are assumed to remain in the water, since no fish corpses have been found.
There are a few other plants that I want to try to find for the pond.
American White Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata)
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)
Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.)
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
Water Chestnut (Eleoricharis spp.)
Water Spinach (Ipomoea batatus)
Cattail (Typha spp.)
Aquatic mint (Mentha aquatica)
Perennial rice (Zizania spp.)
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Rice (Oryza spp)