If you area regular reader of Don’t Eat It! Soap blog you may be wondering where all the soap posts have been. Honestly I haven’t done much soap making lately. Summer is just filled with so many other things to do, and having anticipated this I made enough soap last winter and spring to get me through until things slowed down again. I did make one batch of soap this summer, about 6 weeks ago, and I am testing it now. I made this soap by request of a lady who has very sensitive skin. The person who had made her soap in the past was no longer making it for her. She isn’t sure what the ingredients were in the soap that was being made for her, but she knew that it had lard in it. She suspects that the ingredient that causes her sensitively is coconut oil, and I was pretty much convinced when she said my aloe soap (with coconut oil in it) made her break out. I told her it would be trial and error, but I would attempt to make her a soap that she can use.
She described the soap that she was previously using as having no lather, being very soft and “snot-like” when wet, and taking up to a year to cure. I have honestly never made a soap with those properties, but it sounded to me like it may have a high olive oil content. Since my aloe soap also contained olive oil, I decided to play it safe at first and make a soap with lard as the only oil.
Lard (or hog renderin’s as Granny, on the Beverly Hillbilly’s, would call it) has probably been used as an ingredient in soap making since the beginning of soap making, and it is likely what our grandparents or great grandparents used to make soap. My lard soap would be different than theirs for a couple of reasons. Their homemade soap would have been made using wood ash, which is also known as potassium hydroxide, as the lye. Although I have yet to use it, my understanding is that this makes a softer soap than sodium hydroxide, which is now commercially available, and I use to make my soap. Also they probably did not have scales to measure precise amounts of each ingredient, so the soap may have been very strong and harsh on the skin. I suspect this is why lye soap has a bad reputation.
The only three ingredients in the lard soap that I made are water, lard, and sodium hydroxide (lye). Since this is a test batch I only used two pounds of oil and ended up with eight bars.
This recipe made nice white bars of soap. My husband and I have each used a bar of this soap and both had the same impression. The soap feels nice on the skin, it does not have a bubbly lather but feels more creamy going on. It rinses off well and does not leave the skin feeling dry. While it would not be my first choice, it is a nice soap.
I will get it to the person who requested it this week and say a prayer that this soap works for her.
With the rain that we had late last week and through the weekend making indoors work my preference, I decided Saturday morning would be a good time to make soap. I knew that I was low on both coffee and breakfast bar soaps so I decided to make the coffee soap this time and will probably make breakfast bar later this week.
The coffee soap is made with brewed coffee, instead of water, as the liquid. It has coconut oil and olive oil, and after the oils are combined with the coffee and lye, I add coffee grounds, sugar and powered milk. Sugar is used as an ingredient in soap to increase lather, the coffee grounds add scrubbing power to the soap, and I have discovered that using powdered or dehydrated milk gives the creamy feel of a milk based soap without having to worry about scorching the milk when adding the lye to it. The best way I have found to add the coffee grounds, sugar and powdered milk is to first mix them with a small amount of water to dissolve the milk and the sugar, then blend it into the soap after the soap has come to a trace or just before pouring it into the mold.
The soap was still somewhat soft on Sunday, but is now ready to come out of the mold and be cut into bars today (Tuesday). It should be ready to use in 6 weeks.