I've recently learned how to make the low-fat soap that goes into making homemade laundry detergent. So, instead of buying Zote or Felsnaptha (around $2 a bar), I'll be grating my own soap for around .50 cents per bar. This means I can make 10 gallons of liquid laundry detergent for less than a dollar, even less if I render my own lard. How sweet is that? This took less than an hour to make all these bars. Granted, you can't use them for 6 weeks because they need to cure. I just made some laundry detergent out of some soap that my friend made (exact same recipe and method) and it cleaned very well. I'm going to give you step by step instructions below.
Here is my mad scientist partner, Laurie, putting on her gloves in preparation for measuring and adding the lye and water. My other friend, Diane, joined us in our soap experimentations. Our hubbies watched the kidlets (we're all MOPS moms) while we hung out in Laurie's open garage and entertained her neighbors, hee hee. When making soap, you always want to have really good ventilation because as my Laurie put it, the "sneaky little man called lye" likes to crawl into your throat and gitch ya.
So here are the ingredients we use:
3 lbs of lard or tallow by weight
6.5 oz of lye
12 oz cold water
1. In a tall container you don't care about, (she used a plastic pitcher), dump lye into water, pouring slowly. Stir with a whisk until lye granules are dissolved completely.
2. Measure out 3 lbs of lard or tallow, melt until just barely a liquid. (95 to 98 degrees F). These are NOT lye burns on Laurie's hands but a birthmark.
3. Our other partner in crime, Diane, looks on as we put the lye and water mixture on ice to cool down to the temp as the lard (95 to 97 degrees F). Swirl often to avoid hot spots.
4. As soon as both temps for the lye liquid and the melted fat are at 95 to 98 degrees F., pour lye into the larger container with fat in it. Immediately blend until "trace" using a stick blender. You may need to blend and let rest for a minute to help it get to trace. Honestly, I would probably use an old blender for this stage next time. Some people don't like to use these appliances because they can create air bubbles, but you are only going to grate this up and use if for laundry soap, so who cares what it looks right, right? The picture above is of the soap going into the trace stage. You can see it is getting a little bit thicker. I would say it is about the consistency of liquid soap at trace.
5. Another mad scientist on the loose, Ha Ha Ha (insert evil laugh). As soon as you hit trace, you can add whatever scents you want and blend well. I find scents very expensive and I don't really care if my laundry soap is unscented. Next time, I'll fore go this step.
This recipe fit perfectly into this half gallon milk carton with the side cut open that served as a lid. Laurie lined it with parchment paper. It worked great!
Laurie had her husband make these soap boxes that hold the flexible carton molds. This just make the soap more even looking. It also keeps the soap from touching the towels you will soon wrap it in.
8. Soap should be hard after 24 hours (if it isn't, let it sit longer). Rip the mold away from the block of soap. Laurie used an old miter box to measure out 1 inch blocks. I'm not that precise, but she's a good influence on me. You can use a pencil and a ruler for this task.
9. Laurie used the miter box to make straight cuts. The soap is hard to cut, so may want to use a wash cloth to push down on the top of the other end of the knife while cutting.10. Here is a sample of Laurie's soap that she had made before. The bars look prettier than mine. If you can, store bars on their ends so they don't touch like the very top picture of this post shows, for 2 or 3 days. then you can store them like this, just flip them over every couple of days for 6 weeks. It will help them cure completely. Laurie used this old meat box to store them in.
That is it! 10 easy steps, a few bucks and less than an hour of your time and you've got enough natural laundry soap to make your own liquid laundry detergent. This amount should you last 6 months to a year, depending on how much laundry you do. Hope this post has inspired some of you to give it a try!