Yearly soapmaking!

My mom bought me 6.5 pounds of tallow from the butcher for $0.88/lb! Tallow is so cheap (and sometimes free) since it is a byproduct of eating meat; most of the time, it is thrown away. The fat in the little bag to the left was trimmed off of a steak.
Then you render it, which takes forever
Then you add lye and other goodies, and mix. The soap in this photo is just about done. I’ve been making hot-process soap using our slow cooker since cold-process can be finicky and requires a lot of mixing.
Then you pour it into molds. I variously used a muffin tin and plastic drink cups.

I made four different kinds of soap:

  • pure tallow: 6 oz water, 2.2 oz NaOH, 16 oz tallow
  • tallow + coconut oil for more cleansing lather: 6 oz water, 2.3 oz NaOH, 13.1 oz tallow, 2.9 oz coconut oil
  • tallow + coconut + a mix of oils left over from another project: 6 oz water, 2.3 oz NaOH, 12 oz tallow, 2 oz coconut oil, 2 oz oil mix (coconut and almond oils, beeswax)
  • shaving soap (one batch with NaOH and one batch with KOH): 12 oz water, 3.4 oz KOH, 2.3 oz NaOH, 4 oz glycerin, 9.6 oz stearic acid, 20.8 oz tallow, 1.6 oz oil mix (coconut and almond oils, beeswax)

To create the shaving soap, I mixed the NaOH and KOH batches together to get a good texture. Stearic acid is too hard to use NaOH only, but not hard enough to use only KOH, which is meant for creating liquid soap. This is called a dual-lye soap.

One batch of attempted soap boiled over and was lost ): I pre-melted the oils and they got too hot, so that when I added the lye-water, it boiled immediately, forming a lye volcano. Fortunately, no one was injured (except the crock pot, whose paint is a little corroded…).

Hot-process soap is a little gloopy when it’s done, so it can be hard to put into molds. You can mix in additional water to improve pourability, but the soap will have to cure longer to reach the desired hardness.

Curing. Shaving soap in the back. The two front soaps are hair soap for sibling C, but could also be used for general hand and body cleaning.
The greenish one on the right was infused with plant materials from our garden (yaupon, rosemary, sage, and lantana). As it turns out, you need a ton of plant matter to do anything.
Shaving soap. The glycerin made it a little orange.
Tallow + coconut oil soap.

Until next year!

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