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Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 1

Feb
22


I’m getting ready to make soap! Are you? I hope Clover’s getting ready, too….in her own way.

Making homemade soap can be daunting. There are so many decisions and preparations. I’m breaking them down and working through them, dreaming about yummy-smelling homemade soap. I can do it! So can you!

I’ve never made melt-and-pour or hand milled soap. Many people consider these to be homemade soap impostors as they begin with a commercially-made soap or soap base. You’re not really making soap as much as re-making soap. The difference between melt-and-pour and hand milled is that in melt-and-pour, you don’t have to add water. You just melt the soap base and go from there. In hand milled, you grate soap and add water then go. In either case, you can still get creative with color, fragrance, and additives to make your own unique product, and it’s a perfectly valid craft. You don’t have to deal with any of that scary lye stuff.

Of course, I can’t take the easy way out, and, to me, that just doesn’t sound as satisfying. I want to really make soap, which means hot process or cold process. In hot process, the entire process takes place over a heat source. This is how our great-grandmas did it. In cold process, the saponification process takes place away from the heat source. (Saponification is the chemical process that occurs when fats/oils are combined with lye.) External heat is only used to melt the fats/oils. I intend to try both.

What goes into soap? What is soap? Soap is created by combining fat with lye. The fat can be all sorts of things–lard, tallow, shea or other butters, and all sorts of oils–many of which you can find in your kitchen. Lye is sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as caustic soda. This is, no doubt about it, a dangerous product, and I’ll post more about safety precautions before I make soap and I encourage you to research safety precautions on your own. Using lye is the fear that holds most people back from making soap. It’s a legitimate fear, but there’s no reason to let fear stop you from making soap. Many people have made soap and lived to tell about it. The key is educating yourself about safe use and proper procedures.

Our great-grandmas made their own lye by leaching wood ashes, resulting in uneven levels of strength. This is where homemade lye soap got the bad rap for being harsh. Commercial lye available today is of a standardized strength, which makes non-harsh soap a reliable accomplishment. (I’ve been a bit interested in making lye since we have a wood-stove, but I’m not so sure now. I’m more comfortable with using lye of a standardized strength. This is similar to the use of commercial lemon juice in canning–standardization in the product is a helper in safety and quality.)

What else goes into soap? Water. Our great-grandmas used rainwater–for the purity. You can try that (boil the rainwater after collecting it) or use distilled water. As for what else besides water–anything! This is where soap gets so creative and fun, in the additives. All sorts of things out of your kitchen or garden can be put in soap, as well as essential oils (natural) or fragrance oils (synthetic). You can also add color. Eventually, I hope to make soap using my own goat milk, too, but for now, that will have to wait. (CLOVER!)

I want to make a soap as natural as possible, so I intend to use additives right out of my kitchen. I like to smell like cookies, so I came up with a vanilla sugar recipe. Not only will this help me smell like cookies, it’s frugal. I’m going to use fat and oil out of my pantry–lard and olive oil. Creating your own recipe is fun–though it requires a little math. You can find soap tables online or in books that will guide you in the proper measurements. You can find a soap calculator here.

Math makes my head explode, plus I don’t know what I’m doing and the soap calculator looks like Greek to me, so I consulted my soapmaking guru, Cindy, for help in running my recipe ideas through the soap calculator to come up with the proper measures. (I’ll be posting it here when I make my first soap.) If you want to make soap with me using my recipe, you can probably find what you need in your kitchen, too. All we’ll need after that is the distilled water (or boiled rainwater) and lye.

Where can you get lye? Lye can be hard to find nowadays because of drug use, but you can sometimes find it at hardware stores. You can also buy it online.

So who’s getting ready with me? Your homework, should you choose to accept it:

1. Determine where you can get lye.
2. Decide on a recipe and lay in the ingredients.

See? Baby steps. We’re not making soap yet, we’re just getting ready. We don’t have to be scared, we’re not even going to open the lye and look at it. (Tuck it away safely, away from children and pets.)

Remember, if you want to make my recipe, other than the lye and distilled water or boiled rainwater, you’ll just need what’s probably already in your kitchen. (Vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, lard, and olive oil.) If you want to create your own, get crackin’ using the soap calculator or research tried-and-true soap recipes online or in books. (Soap is a chemical equation–don’t try to create a recipe without making the proper calculations–this is why it’s best as a beginner to either use an already-existing recipe or use a soap calculator and consult with an experienced soapmaker in formulating your own.)

Watch for Part 2 of my series on Getting Ready to Make Soap and not opening the scary lye yet!

And–surprise giveaway (ya gotta pay attention around here!): I’ll draw a random comment number on this post for another copy of Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson. (I’ll have to actually order this one for you since I only bought one extra copy last time.) Eligible entry closes at 10 a.m. Eastern tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 23). The winner will be announced in this post soon after 10 a.m. Eastern tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 23).

Return to this post for an update with the winner. (You’ll need to send me your address if you win, so check back. Please understand that I can’t track giveaway winners down! Thank you!)

UPDATE 02/23/10: The winning comment number is #77, Cindy H. Email me at CITRgiveaways(at)aol.com with your full name and address for shipping! (If anyone wonders how I draw numbers, I use random.org. It’s great for drawings!)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 22, 2010  

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  1. 2-22
    1:26
    am

    I’m sorta with you. But I’m behind a little bit. I’m starting on candles tomorrow. I’m just now getting ready to read about soap. Bought four books, but haven’t had the chance to read them yet. I will research lye. And find a recipe. You’re going fast for a girl who just found your site 2 weeks ago. I really like your site and forum. It’s my favorite–I follow about 30 blogs.

  2. 2-22
    1:33
    am

    Pick me! Pick me! Looking forward to following your soap-making adventure. Lye is scary to me, too. :bugeyed: That’s one reason I’ve never tried to make soap. :help:

  3. 2-22
    1:39
    am

    What a fun adventure! I’m looking forward to seeing the Chickens in the Road take on soap making and join in.

    It would be marvelous to win the book, but no matter what, I’ll be here reading every post and admiring every picture.

  4. 2-22
    1:41
    am

    Like everyone else, I’d love a copy of the soap making book. With you making it first, us having detailed instructions from someone we trust, it might just be do-able. Thanks.

  5. 2-22
    1:47
    am

    Look forward to seeing your soap making results!! I’d love a copy of the book.

  6. 2-22
    1:53
    am

    I’d love a copy of the soap making book. REALLY~REALLY would love the book!
    I’m with everyone else with your guidance it may not be scary making soap after all!
    ~HUGS~~

  7. 2-22
    1:58
    am

    Good luck! It’s something I’ve thought about in the past, but never more than that.. It skeers me!

  8. 2-22
    2:03
    am

    Soap making is something I’ve never attempted, but I’d like to.

  9. 2-22
    2:20
    am

    Looking forward to following you on your soapmaking journey. Since I am also interesting in making my own soap, it is going to be a pleasure watching you and reading up on your posts as you progress in soapmaking.

    Thanks for a wonderful and enjoyable web site. Chickens in the Road is now my #1 site to visit :)

    Sonia (Lexington,SC)

  10. 2-22
    3:51
    am

    Would love to make soap myself, and… I’ve got plenty of goat’s milk! Reading the soap making book first would be lovely to get really in the mood…
    Richelle

  11. 2-22
    4:25
    am

    For goat milk soap simply replace the water in your recipe with milk. Freeze the milk till slushy then SLOWLY add, stirring all the while. The heat produced will turn it carmelly colored, that is why you make it slushy first, to slow down the color. Thats it!! Using part coconut oil makes a much nicer soap.
    Its fun!

  12. 2-22
    6:00
    am

    Please enter me! I will definitely figure out where to find lye around here.

  13. 2-22
    6:10
    am

    Do you think Clover is in the family way? :snuggle: How exciting! I sure hope so! :sheepjump:

  14. 2-22
    6:26
    am

    Sounds fun!!Something definately to try!

  15. 2-22
    6:42
    am

    I’ve been making soap for awhile, you will LOVE it! I order my lye from Bittercreek candle supply if anyone needs help finding it:) Have fun, it’s addicting!!!

  16. 2-22
    6:54
    am

    You always do a great job researching things! I do want to make some soaps to use and for gift giving.

  17. 2-22
    7:00
    am

    Lye IS scary! I’ve been admiring soap makers and reading about making soap on craft forums, but I haven’t gotten up the nerve to try it yet. My grandma used to make soap, starting with fat rendering, and it was interesting to watch. I’d like to try it! :)

  18. 2-22
    7:08
    am

    I’ve done the melt an pour soap before. To me, it’s like making fake homemade soap. It turned out great, but I just didn’t get the “I made my own soap” satisfaction. Must overcome my chemical/lye process fear!

  19. 2-22
    7:17
    am

    I have made melt and pour soap for years and I make one where I include cocoa butter, bee pollen and honey. That is the only soap my husband will use. I have a quick question concerning candles that maybe you can help with. You gave me the courage to make candles so I took my Christmas gift card and bought all the necessary ingredients. My first batch turned out great. The second not so much. I use soy wax and there is hardly a flame at all and it is burning straight down. Could it be the wicks? or maybe the wax? I’m not sure. I hate to waste all the candles. I made 6 big ones. Thanks and enter me in the giveaway!!! :wave:

  20. 2-22
    7:20
    am

    Amy, I haven’t tried soy wax yet, so I don’t know about that!

  21. 2-22
    7:23
    am

    You can do it, Suzanne! :happyflower:

  22. 2-22
    7:24
    am

    Hello! I am so excited to learn about soap making with you! I just delved into candle-making with great success, so I am hoping for more of the same!

  23. 2-22
    7:24
    am

    I was curious about the mention of lye in relation to drugs, so I googled and came across this:

    “Over-the-counter cold and asthma medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, red phosphorous, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel, and antifreeze are among the ingredients most commonly used.”

    Wow, really sounds like something you’d want to cook up :-) Kind of puts drugs in the Darwin Award category, if they weren’t there already.

  24. 2-22
    7:30
    am

    I’m thinking of trying this with you – not sure yet, but I would love the book.

  25. 2-22
    7:31
    am

    I would love, love, love to make soap! I will be brave and follow you! I would like to be entered to win the Smart Soapmaking book. Thank you!!

    I really enjoy your blog. We are living parallel lives in parallel counties! Life is good!

    susan

  26. 2-22
    7:36
    am

    I can’t wait to learn how to make soap with you! Sounds like fun (except for the lye part). Would love to win the book.

  27. 2-22
    7:38
    am

    Ooo-Oooo [jumping up and down with hand in air] pick me, pick me! Got my fingers, toes and eyes crossed hoping it’ll be my number for the book! :clover:

  28. 2-22
    7:43
    am

    Funny I was thinking I needed to make soap this week! I have dairy goats and will freeze excess milk in breast milk storage bags. My most favorites are a shampoo bar and a shaving bar which has bentonite clay in it! Oh, I almost forgot, I WOULD LOVE, to have a copy of that book! Blessings!

  29. 2-22
    7:44
    am

    I have the lard, oil, distilled water and shea butter all ready to go- no Lye yet- and I’d love to have a chance to win the book!
    Thanks for this tutorial, Suzanne, I’ve been dreaming about making my own soap for at least 20 years!

  30. 2-22
    7:45
    am

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with this time…..soap! Will it be vanilla scented so we smell like a cookie when we go feed the babies??????

  31. 2-22
    7:48
    am

    Hmm, soap. I really want to try it but it is scary. I guess if you promise to hold my hand I can do it though!

  32. 2-22
    7:49
    am

    You know, you are really making it difficult for me to go to work–posting all this home made stuff that I want to stay home and make! I don’t know if I really want to make soap, but I’m looking forward to the adventure with you!

  33. 2-22
    7:49
    am

    I have been wanting to make soap for a while too. I want to use our goat’s milk and beeswax from our bees! SUPER natural! Love it!

    A book would be wonderful~! :heart:

  34. 2-22
    7:51
    am

    Count me in…I want to learn how to make soap too!! :snoopy:

  35. 2-22
    7:52
    am

    “we” accidentally made our own lye last year by leaving the ash bucket on the lawn with the lid off. (It’s hard to get good help!) it wasn’t too scary, but it sure killed a lot of grass!

  36. 2-22
    7:52
    am

    I bought some lye years ago and tucked it away safely….and got too busy to get back to it! I think I know where it is. Wonder if it is still good? I’m game seems like the right time to try it! Getting a free book would be cool too.

  37. 2-22
    7:53
    am

    I also forgot. I get my lye at Lowe’s or Ace hardware. If you go to the septic area you usually can find it. It’s made by Roebic and is a tall white container with a yellow, red and black label that says ‘Crystal Drain Opener’. Whatever you find, just make sure it is 100% sodium hydroxide! Happy soapmaking! Oh, and on my last post I botched up my blog addy. Come on over!

  38. 2-22
    7:59
    am

    I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I have soap making on my to do someday list, but its way down at the bottom! Maybe I should move it towards the top!

  39. 2-22
    8:04
    am

    Me too Suzanne!
    Thanks.

  40. 2-22
    8:07
    am

    My mother used to make soap when she was a kid. She used ashes. Hmmm. Must give her a call and ask more questions. But I’ll buy commercially made.

    This is going to be so much fun. I feel like the little sister trailing behind her big sister (Suzanne!). Cool stuff happening here.

    Nancy

  41. 2-22
    8:13
    am

    You are so brave- and I want to be brave with you! I have never made soap by myself- but I want to!

  42. 2-22
    8:15
    am

    I’ve got the lye on hand and a recipe! I only need to grab a couple more ingredients that I can get locally. Would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway!
    ~Jenny~

  43. 2-22
    8:17
    am

    I am there with you Suzanne! I have been researching soap recipes all weekend. You got me thinking with your last post. I checked out a book with lots of recipes at the Library. The book is called “Better Home Basics for the Home” by Annie Berthold-Bond. I just can’t get enough. It has home recipes for cleaning supplies, body care, laundry, etc. The task is daunting, but lets lace up our boots and get started!!

    By the way, I would love the soap making book!

  44. 2-22
    8:20
    am

    It’s fun learning about how the women who came before us did things, and doubly fun watching you learn and try the old ways. Fascinating stuff, Suzanne. Thanks for doing the research and sharing your findings.
    I’m really looking forward to seeing your posts about soap making.
    I’d love to win the book. Thanks!
    Wishing you a sunshiny day. :sun: We saw the sun yesterday but have more clouds this morning.

  45. 2-22
    8:24
    am

    Yeah!! So happy you are giving away another soap making book!!

  46. 2-22
    8:24
    am

    Your ambition and great tutoring skills inspire me to try many new things! Hope I get to add soap making to the list!

  47. 2-22
    8:30
    am

    I made soap in the fall, saved bacon grease until I had enough. Actually, making the lye based soap is soooo easy – the hardest part for me was FINDING the Lye.
    Think I have just about enough grease in the fridge, maybe we should have bacon for breakfast……..
    Would love to win a book with more ideas/directions for soap.
    PS I ALWAYS check this blog first thing, love to read your posts.

  48. 2-22
    8:38
    am

    I love making soap. I bought my lye on line. As long as you follow safety instructions, it seems fine. I would love to have the book.

    Thanks

  49. 2-22
    8:41
    am

    It does sound scary but sign me up for the drawing anyways.

    Thanks.

  50. 2-22
    8:45
    am

    Can’t wait to see how you make soap. I’ve learned so much from you already…
    I’d be so very happy if I won the book. :-)

  51. 2-22
    8:47
    am

    For folks looking for lye…I purchase it at our local Tru Value Hardware store. It’s sold as crystals of 100% lye drain opener. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!

  52. 2-22
    8:57
    am

    Baby steps….I would like to be considered for the giveaway please…

  53. 2-22
    8:59
    am

    I want to make soap but lye SCARES ME!!!! I think I’ll let you do it and after you succeed (I know you will, Suzanne!) I may get brave! And please enter me in the drawing.

  54. 2-22
    9:00
    am

    Here’s a lye calculator that makes the math thing much easier. I just tweak the fat amounts until it tells me I need exactly 12 oz of lye (or whatever amount of lye I have) then I make the soap like that. :-)

    http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php

  55. 2-22
    9:00
    am

    I’m afraid of lye. I think I might just watch the first time. But please enter me for the book.

    BTW…how is your cheese coming along?

  56. 2-22
    9:01
    am

    Relax! Lye’s not nearly as scary as hot grease, fire, gasoline, falling off tall ladders…. You’re much more likely to get a serious burn frying chicken than when making soap. Seriously, I’ve made tons of soap and am completely comfortable working with lye. Tons. Really. Never had more than a bit of skin irritation where I got splashed when not wearing rubber gloves. Sure, you should be careful, use gloves and eye protection, wash everything well when you’re finished. Use common sense, and have fun. Soapmaking is a blast!

  57. 2-22
    9:02
    am

    The lye part always scares me, too. But how cool to be able to make your own soap! If The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) comes, my family is gonna be the cleanest one on the block. :D

  58. 2-22
    9:05
    am

    I’ve made soap before but would love to make goats milk soap. Looking forward to part II. Terry

  59. 2-22
    9:13
    am

    I feel so much better knowing I’m not the only one afraid of the lye! I am determined to make soap though so slowly I’m trying to overcome my fear…my cousin makes soap all the time, she actually has an online business selling her wonderful soap, and friends have offered to show me how but I’m still leary! Evverything I have tried with you has turned out beautifully (well, except maybe the crochet ;) ) so I have hopes for your tutorial! I would love to win the book!

  60. 2-22
    9:15
    am

    I think I’m going to join you for this one….I’m using your recipe – that feels better to me and then it will match your body spray and xmas is almost done :D ….Please enter me for the soap making book. Thanks.

  61. 2-22
    9:27
    am

    YES! I’ve been waiting for you to get started on soap making so I could give it a try so please put me in for the draw too!!!

  62. 2-22
    9:29
    am

    Me, too! I would love to try soapmaking again. It’s been years.

  63. 2-22
    9:35
    am

    My mother and grandmother always made homemade soap. They did this in the large “butcher” kettle in the Spring. All winter mom would save any fat drippings from sausage, bacon, etc. for this purpose. Oh how I wish I had paid closer attention to how they did this. I am so excited to watch you do this and would like to try it myself! The soap made by mom was the BEST laundry soap ever – you could rub it on grass stains and such and the stains came out every time. I still have a few small pieces of this soap.
    Another interesting thing is that a local church in our area gathers tons of partially used hotel soap bars from all over the country and they grate them and melt them to make all kinds of soap products for the needy and third world countries – isn’t that a great recycling idea!!!?
    I would be honoured to win a copy of your book.

  64. 2-22
    9:36
    am

    My niece introduced me to your site. She also makes her own laundry soap and shared the recipe on FB. I have not had a chance to try it yet (or even look at the recipe) but at 1¢ a load, I don’t think I can ignore this one.

    I remember once reading (or on TV? It was a long time ago) that typically an egg would be cracked in the lye solution (ash bucket & rainwater); if it “fried” the strength was right for soap making. It definitely sounds like something to be careful with!

    Good luck in your soap-making endeavors! (If I win the book I will gift it to you Erin!)

    Lynn

  65. 2-22
    9:49
    am

    I’ve made a LOT of soap over the years (I even sold at craft fairs for a short time), but someone borrowed my favorite soapmaking book and never returned it. :( I could really use another book!

  66. 2-22
    9:53
    am

    How fun! I would love to try and make some kind of Honey/Almond soap. I love anything almond!

  67. 2-22
    9:54
    am

    It is just a mystery to me! I am willing to learn!

  68. 2-22
    9:59
    am

    I can’t wait for part 2. Are you planning on making glycerin soap?Put me in for the draw, Thanks

  69. 2-22
    10:10
    am

    Please put my name in the pot. :-)

  70. 2-22
    10:13
    am

    I’ve always wanted to make soap ever since I read the book “The Dalaney Sisters: Having our Say.” They made their own soap until the day they each died, well into their 100s. Talk about resourceful. Excellent book if you haven’t read it. Good Luck and make the instructions very easy so I can try it at home.

    Susan

  71. 2-22
    10:14
    am

    Yep. Gathering supplies – have most of the necessities. Just waiting for spring. Got this idea that I want to make soap outside. Not that it is necessary, but a part of the experience I want to have!

    Having a book would be nice… :happypuppy:

  72. 2-22
    10:15
    am

    My first comment! my husband is the one interested in learning to make soap, I want to learn to make cheese… we now have 3 goats in milk, we have six new babies, Our Clover clone, Princess Buttercup had two boys, 2 months ago and her daughters, (our first timer twins) each had one baby girl within a day of each other with our newest born yesterday afternoon!….the cuteness here is almost painful! Don’t know how to milk yet….
    would love to win the book on soapmaking, can’t wait for you to post on making goat’s milk soap!

    We started our own little farm last year,so we love your blog, it’s like reading about our own lives, only well written and with great humor! what an adventure and your posts on the goats trysts was too funny, we pulled up lawn chairs the day we got our reg. nigie bucks and sat there like true city folk gone country listening to their vocals and watching their x-rated antics, lol.
    love your blog!
    Karen W

  73. 2-22
    10:17
    am

    I make soap too, it really is fun to make and I love knowing what’s in it. I agree with a previous poster who said that frying chicken was more dangerous than dealing with lye. Really, it is. If anyone makes candy, that hot sugar mixture is so much more dangerous.

  74. 2-22
    10:17
    am

    AMY PRICE: If your first batch turned out great, and you’re using the same type of soy wax, then it’s probably your wicks (if you used a different kind). That happened to me, and it was my wicks. I now use a thicker wick for my candles, and the melt is great.

    Suzanne, please put me in the drawing for the book. Thanks!

  75. 2-22
    10:19
    am

    Soapmaking is still on my bucket list.
    Jane in Kansas

  76. 2-22
    10:28
    am

    I REMEMBER THE LYE SOAP. IT WAS NOT A FANCY BATH SOAP BUT A HARD WORKING SOAP. TOOK OUT STAINS. MADE FROM WOOD ASHES. KILLED POISON IVY. AND HAD IT’S OWN SMELL AND LOOK. I AM SURE THERE WILL BE A LOT OF SHORT CUTS. GOO FOR IT……

  77. 2-22
    10:35
    am

    Another way on the road to being self-sufficient. :o)

  78. 2-22
    10:45
    am

    Please put me in for the soap making book. Thanks!

  79. 2-22
    10:45
    am

    I like this post – my sister in law and I spoke yesterday about getting ready to do this. I found a soap mold pattern on line and have given it to my husband to build us this mold.

  80. 2-22
    10:45
    am

    Oh my we grew up with homemade soap. never have been brave enough to try tho; can’t wait to see how it turns out. I would love the book. :shimmy:

  81. 2-22
    10:47
    am

    I’d still lobve to win this book and join you in your soap making adventure. Can’t wait to see a goats milk one. CLOVER!! :smilerabbit:

  82. 2-22
    10:47
    am

    Hi Suzanne. Please enter my name for the drawing. I have been thinking of making soap, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Lye is not that scary as long as you take the proper precautions (good gloves and ventilation). I love to follow all your trials and tribulations.

  83. 2-22
    11:05
    am

    Can’t wait to follow along; handmade soap is all I will use for my skin, but I buy it from someone who has already figured out the scary lye part. Maybe I’ll finally get the courage to make my own. A book would definitely help!

  84. 2-22
    11:07
    am

    What fun! I’m excited to try this. I checked out the soap calculator, it looks helpful!! :)

    I’d love to win the book! :woof:

  85. 2-22
    11:08
    am

    I have been dreaming of soapmaking for a while now. Have been browsing books at the library (they only have melt and pour instructions). I would love a book! I love this post-keep ‘em coming.

  86. 2-22
    11:08
    am

    I had all the ingredients to make laundry soap, but for some reason chikened out. There’s no lye in laundry soap, I think. I do want to give this a try!

  87. 2-22
    11:09
    am

    Wanna win it!

  88. 2-22
    11:11
    am

    Well I’ll be over in the corner watching you. I’m not ready to try it but maybe after you do it I’ll go for it.

  89. 2-22
    11:16
    am

    My bad! I forgot that I had not checked on the book giveaway from before…I went to check and lo and behold…my name was chosen! I just sent an email with my information. But if by chance my name is chosen again, You will need to pick someone else’s comment.
    Thank you so much!!!

  90. 2-22
    11:20
    am

    I am so excited you are doing this! I have wanted to make soap for some time now. I have the lye just need to buy the lard. I see that in stores all the time around here (south). I am pumped. Please enter me to win that book!

  91. 2-22
    11:37
    am

    Me, me, me, me!!!!! (jumping up and down with my hand in the air!!) I just added the supplies to make laundry soap to my shopping list this morning and then I read your post. I already have the lye. I’m going to be working right along with you. I so enjoy making as much as I can myself!!

  92. 2-22
    11:37
    am

    I “ska-wed” as my daughter used to say. But I may be brave enough. How long do we have on this ingredient gathering thing? Also, how do you use the lye calculator if you are using different fats and oils combined? Can you use different fats and oils combined? And my biggest concern, what kind of cooking vessel will lye not eat through?

    As you can tell, I would love to have the book to answer all my questions.

  93. 2-22
    11:38
    am

    My, you are a brave woman. Planning to open a can of Scary Lye! You must play dramatic music in the background when you do get to that step.

    Good luck! And I love your blog!

  94. 2-22
    11:59
    am

    I’ve made soap before, and I’ve enjoyed the process greatly — so I’ll just pass on two bits of advice: 1) wear goggles and gloves, and 2) think carefully about how the soap will be molded — wax paper cups work out well, and I prefer using them to making a sheet of soap, and then attempting to cut the soap into bars without jagged edges.

  95. 2-22
    12:00
    pm

    lavenderblue–yes, you can use different fat/oils, just put them in the calculator. I’m going to do a post about utensils and equipment etc!

  96. 2-22
    12:03
    pm

    pick me, pick me! But even if I don’t win the book, I’m still making soap! :-)

  97. 2-22
    12:04
    pm

    Ooh, second comment for anyone who is going to try this — be cautious about buying drain cleaner — most contain aluminum particles. You want 100% lye (sodium hydroxide).

  98. 2-22
    12:55
    pm

    Would love to try this.. :fairy:

  99. 2-22
    12:59
    pm

    oh wow. if i win this my great granny will be jumping up in her grave! she would be so excited to know that i learned to do this after all these ages. my granny ran what was called a “landrymat”(heavy emphasis on the E sound before mat) where she washed out the oil field workers clothes in wringer type washers with homemade soap and she had to boil the water on her stove, here in East Texas during the oil boom.

  100. 2-22
    1:06
    pm

    I love that you’re documenting the baby steps. Making real homemade soap is on my “to learn how to do” list. That books sounds great!

  101. 2-22
    1:15
    pm

    Please enter me in the drawing for the soapmaking book.

    I just purchased goat’s milk soap and lotion from a great lady named Marsha of Laurel Fork Farms in Tucker Co. WV. My Dad grew up on the other end of the Laurel Fork River in Randolph Co. WV. God’s country.

    Connie Lambert Crowl

  102. 2-22
    1:16
    pm

    please enter me in the drawing for the soap making book.

  103. 2-22
    1:24
    pm

    You’ve really done your research. Making soap is something I’ve always wanted to try to make. I’m going to continue reading your steps. Glad to see that you’ll be taking the fear out of working with lye. :help:

  104. 2-22
    1:58
    pm

    Do it yourself soap making still sounds scary to me. I am enjoying you go through the process and breaking it down for us. It gives me hope that when I grow up (never) I can make soap also.

  105. 2-22
    2:02
    pm

    You are educating me on just the process of making soap with the book – recipes and supplies. I would love the book.

  106. 2-22
    2:10
    pm

    Always watched my Mom make “lye” soap, but was too young to really take an interest in it. She made hers with the wood ash some of the time. Think I am finally old enough to tackle soap making now. :happybutterfly Would love to win the book and finally give it a try.

  107. 2-22
    2:13
    pm

    I’d love the soap making book!

  108. 2-22
    2:14
    pm

    I would love to win the book. If I don’t though I’ll just have to keep watching how you do it and try that way.

  109. 2-22
    2:15
    pm

    Soap – yay! :sun:

  110. 2-22
    2:20
    pm

    I’m interested!

  111. 2-22
    2:50
    pm

    I remember trying to make soap with lye and lard years ago. It must have been a hot process, because I recall it was difficult to get it to the correct temperature so it would set up. When it worked, it made a pure white mild soap that worked wonders in the washing machine (shredded) and was easy on the hands. I just might have to try it again after all these years.

  112. 2-22
    3:05
    pm

    Okay, I just worked up the nerve to try the candles. So, I have been saving some up. I will definitely have to wait until summer before I actually tackle making soap.

  113. 2-22
    3:15
    pm

    I used to own my own store and sold handmade soaps & toiletries – my soaps were made from scratch (ie using lye). It really isn’t so scary. The biggest thing to remember is to ALWAYS pour the lye into the water, never the water into the lye. A lot of soapers use the “snow falls on the lake” phrase to remember this.

    Handmade soap is just about the best thing ever and I miss it. Hmm, might be time to bring out the old soaping pot! :yes:

  114. 2-22
    3:25
    pm

    :butterfly: Soapmaking with natural elements is God’s GIFT in taking out the DIRT!!! Ok now you can pick me!!! Susan, I just love your blog…and loking forward to getting rid of some “dirt” in a frilly way =) Have a blessed day!! :purpleflower:

  115. 2-22
    3:35
    pm

    I’ve been researching soapmaking for awhile too. I’m collecting books (I don’t have this one yet, hint, hint), reading articles online, etc. I’ve played with melt and pour soap and hand milled soap. I cook at a school and when I cooked 100 lbs of hamburger for chili I saved all the grease, took it home and strained it and now I have two #10 cans full of beef tallow to make soap with! I can’t wait to make it; just have to find the lye and get my utensils together.

  116. 2-22
    4:12
    pm

    I’ve always wanted to make my own soap, but haven’t yet ventured down that road. I’ve learned a lot from the comments on this post. Imagine how much more I could learn from a book!

  117. 2-22
    4:13
    pm

    I think I will just watch this time.

  118. 2-22
    4:16
    pm

    :dancingmonster:

    Woo-Hoo! I’m soooo looking forward to this one, and I’d love the book… of course. Though I may just go pick one up myself :)

  119. 2-22
    4:23
    pm

    Really wanna make soap too. Please enter me in the drawing.

  120. 2-22
    4:26
    pm

    :cowsleep:
    Making soap sounds like the most awesome gift idea…you can give low-cost gifts from the heart. Thanks Suzanne for bringing your ideas to the web. I always love coming to your site and finding something new :wave:

  121. 2-22
    4:37
    pm

    I once belonged to a church where the older ladies (I was young at the time) made soap that they sent away to missionaries. We all helped out by saving fat for them. I think they may have sold some too. I wasn’t interested in buying any at the time because I remembered the strong, smelly lye soap my grandma made. The soap making was done once a year. I never witnessed it, but I remember there were only a couple of women who were trusted with calculating the recipe and handling the dreaded lye. After it had cured and been cut, another get together was held to wrap the soap bars. Besides saving fat, we also saved scraps of soap from our homes and small bars of soap from hotels, etc. These were used for making something other than lye soap, I guess. I would love to have a copy of the soap making book. Your stories about it have intrigued me.

  122. 2-22
    4:54
    pm

    My daughter and I have been researching making sheep milk soap! We’d love to win the book and get started making soap with you!

  123. 2-22
    5:34
    pm

    This sounds so exciting and scary. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out :happyfeet:

  124. 2-22
    5:50
    pm

    Oh my gosh, HOW FUN!!! I am completely on board with you!! LET’S MAKE SOAP!!!!!!!

  125. 2-22
    5:52
    pm

    Lye [big gulp]. Oh, how I want to join in… But, I’m so afraid of lye…

    Please enter me in the contest.

    Happy farming,

    Kelly

  126. 2-22
    6:17
    pm

    I’d love to win the soap making book! That’s one of my “someday” I’m gonna do it things, like milking a cow and making cheese!

  127. 2-22
    6:55
    pm

    Deb
    If all you did was strain the fat, you’re going to want to clean it before you use it. Google “cleaning fat” and it will tell you how to do it.

    Lye isn’t scary, it’s all the horror stories we’ve heard from people who didn’t respect it that’s the problem. Sort of like being afraid to cook because you’ve heard about houses being burned down by cooking.

    1.) A poem: Do what ya oughta, add the lye to the watta (water)
    2.) Keep an open bottle of vinegar next to you. Vinegar instantly neutralizes lye. So if the bottle is open, you can instantly access it to pour on any spill.
    3.) Use your enamel roasting pan for the “cooking pot”. One half for the lye mixture, the other for the fat melting & mixing together of the soap.
    4.) Use a scale to WEIGH your ingredients.
    5.) DO NOT USE ALCOHOL-BASED additives in your soap. It WILL ruin the batch! So that means regular Vanilla extract is OUT. It also means that CANDLE scents are out! Now if you put a vanilla bean in sugar, oil/fat or water and let it soak and then use THAT, it may work. I think it might be worth it to try warming a SMALL amount of oil, soaking the vanilla bean in that for a few weeks and then using that at the end of the process. Where you normally add the scent so that the scent isn’t cooked out of it. Otherwise, you’re going to have to buy scent. I’m not so sure about using sugar in a soap recipe. Most of the “sweet” scents are artificial, I’m not sure of the chemistry if real sugar were used. Again, you’d want to use it at the end, when you’d normally add scents. Use just a portion of a batch of soap, that way, it will only ruin a small amount of soap if it doesn’t work out the way you want (the soap doesn’t set up).

    I’ve only made soap a few times, but these are things I’ve gleaned from doing it.
    I’d love the book!

  128. 2-22
    7:36
    pm

    I’m so glad I get to watch you do this, its sort of like, “OK, you go first!” when we were kids. :) Yep, Lye is scary, the one thing that has kept me leary enough to try this on my own. I’m a hands on learner, so step by step pics are the next best thing. :)

  129. 2-22
    7:44
    pm

    Can’t wait for your next installment. I will be following you all the way, tho I still need to get more courage to try it.
    Please enter me in the drawing. :)

    Grace in CA

  130. 2-22
    8:14
    pm

    I remember my Grandmother and Great Grandmother making soap. It was a summer outside kind of job that took all day. I remember walking home with a few bars of soap later in the week. It was good to scrub bare feet if you walked in poison ivy. Grandmother used to stick her needles and pins in a bar of soap for safe keeping and to prevent rust.

    I think this would be a good Girl Scout project to make at Camp with older girls. I’d use your book give away to make soap at home a few times, then be ready to make it for a Tour of Homes and then at Girl Scout Camp. Better yet, supervise the girls making it at Tour of Homes.

  131. 2-22
    8:36
    pm

    I’ve always wanted to try making lavender soap….a book about soapmaking would probably be helpful…

  132. 2-22
    8:47
    pm

    Suzanne, please don’t enter me in the contest because I bought the book after reading your first entry about soapmaking. It hasn’t arrived yet, and I’m very nervous about the lye part. Wouldn’t lye make the soap very harsh to your skin? It just seems weird. I’m planning on following with you on the soap making journey.

  133. 2-22
    8:59
    pm

    Oh boy! I’m crossing my fingers again, maybe second time’s the charm. Yesterday, I took my first shower with my homemade soap. It was a 100% olive oil (castile)soap, just barely scented with rosemary. BEST SOAP EVER! I’m getting ready to make my 4th batch ever sometime later this week.

  134. 2-22
    9:03
    pm

    I’d love to win the book! I buy goats milk soap at the farmer’s market and would like to learn how to make my own.

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  135. 2-22
    9:04
    pm

    I really enjoy reading about all of your projects and trying your recipes. I am anxious to see how the soap turns out. My sister is also following your progress and would like for us to take on this project.

    Mafong

  136. 2-22
    9:33
    pm

    Suzanne – I am thrilled you are entering the soap making arena – we have made one batch at our little homestead and are ready for more sudzy adventure…..the book would be a great addition – thanks for loving us like you do !!!! :happyflower:

  137. 2-22
    10:00
    pm

    I am very much into homemade, all natural and being more self sufficient. Your posts are inspiring and very helpful. I really enjoy your sense of humor. I’m currently trying the knitting thing. making soap sounds like a very interesting project. Thank You.

  138. 2-22
    10:09
    pm

    I love making soap… Lard makes a very smooth creamy soap and beef tallow makes a firm and creamy soap. I have also tried with deer fat, and the results are similar to beef tallow. I wish you the best of luck Suzanne, with your efforts! After reading your blog and enjoying your site, I know you will have no trouble at all! Your efforts will be worth the results. There is nothing like the real thing, your skin will love you. I make a “man soap” for my husband using beer as the liquid, deer fat, and I add an oakmoss fragrance blend that he loves. Coconut oil ads lather, but lather can be drying. Olive oil is a gentler oil to use, as it produces smaller bubbles (less lather). Canola is chemically similar to olive oil, and much cheaper. I have made homemade soap since 1995, and it is so satisfying creating such a useful thing for your family! Have fun, don’t be afraid of the lye (while using proper precautions of course!), and feel free to experiment with herbs, spices, essential oils, and different liquids, such as teas and other infusions!

  139. 2-22
    10:12
    pm

    I would like to be picked.I want to learn how to make soap.

  140. 2-22
    10:17
    pm

    How fun I hope to start soon

  141. 2-22
    10:21
    pm

    Well, you can pick me if ya want..I’ve never made that kind of soap before, because using Lye does concern me. However, I’m willing to try it if you decide to pick my number. I’ve often thought about making it that way (someday).

    Thanks for letting me post! :sheepjump: :duck:

  142. 2-22
    10:21
    pm

    I’ve always known that when we ‘retire’ to the farm, I will make hand made soap, but when I recently bought my first bar of goats milk soap, I was in love. I have to move soap-making up my to-do list! :) Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

  143. 2-22
    11:47
    pm

    Count me in for the soap-making book draw!

  144. 2-23
    12:01
    am

    pick me pick me! I have always wanted to do this

  145. 2-23
    12:54
    am

    Cool! I can’t wait to try this right along with you! I want that book!! PLEASE!

  146. 2-23
    4:43
    am

    Serously, If you want to make soap a real easy way try blender soap. Its fast and easy. Just look up on the web.

  147. 2-23
    6:12
    am

    Soapmaking? Yeah, I could do that! Please let me win the book, please, please, please :woof:

  148. 2-23
    6:47
    am

    I feel so lucky to still have a couple of pieces of the lye soap my dear grandmother made. I do use them to remove particularly stubborn stains in the laundry, so they are getting smaller. (There is no commercial stain removing product that can touch them for effectiveness in that department.) I really cherish them.

  149. 2-23
    8:24
    am

    I’m looking forward to your soap adventure. Count me in on the contest!

    Thank you!

  150. 2-23
    11:45
    am

    Lucky #77 :)

  151. 2-24
    8:57
    am

    You will have fun making lye soap. i cant imagine not making my own soap anymore. I was scared at first and then realized if i was just cafeful i would be fine. Now i make a batch every couple of weeks . I get my llye at Do It Best Hardware or Home Depot. You can also find it at feed mills and tractor supply stores sometimes. I look forward to reading about your soap adventures !

  152. 10-4
    6:01
    pm

    Making lye isn’t all that hard. Burn HARDWOOD in your stove, save the ashes and cold coals. Put them in a bucket of water and let them sit a spell, then strain off the water. American Indians and mountain folks still make lye that way. :)

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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