Category Archives: soap

Soap Making Season

If you have been following my blog for a while and are wondering why there haven’t been any posts about soap on a blog that is called “Don’t Eat It! Soap”, I guess the answer is that it wasn’t soap making season. As farmers our lives revolve around the seasons; our daily activities depend largely on the time of year, the number of daylight hours and the weather. While soap making is not an activity that is necessarily dependent on any of those things it seems for me that soap making, too, has become a seasonal activity.

If you were to go back through my blog you, as I just did, you would find the last mention of soap making in this post from June and that soap was actually made in May. I have discovered that the months of June, July and August are not soap making season for me. I get a good supply of soap made up over winter and spring. Then when we get busy with summer activities I don’t have to take time away to make soap.

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I started making soap again a couple weeks ago when I got orders for two batches – one batch of “Chamomile/Lavender” and one batch of “Just Soap”. The customers that order these are basically buying in bulk, since a batch is 16 bars and they do not come individually wrapped or labeled. They also know that they need to place their order well in advance of when they will need it, since the soap takes approximately 6 weeks to cure.

The next soap that I needed to make was “Turmeric – Yogurt .  My trial run of this soap yielded positive feedback with people telling me they would want more. When I cut up this batch I decided to try out the soap stamp my daughters bought me for Mother’s Day. I only stamped a couple of bars, but I like the way it turned out. I am just not certain yet if I want to commit to stamping every bar because it could be quite time consuming. IMG_4507

The soap I made this week is called “Salad Bar” Soap. I understand if you are thinking “that’s weird”, but I do prefer the term “quirky” – LOL! The ingredients include cucumber puree, yogurt and rosemary. These are all potential salad ingredients – hence the name.

Soap making season will continue throughout the month of October (probably one or two batches per week) so that I can have a good supply ready for the holiday shopping season when I tend to have a higher volume of sales. (Handcrafted soaps make nice gifts.)  During this time you can expect to see some more posts about the weird quirky soaps I make. Who knows I might even add something new.

In November and December I usually don’t make new batches of soap, but I spend a lot of time packaging, labeling and even gift packaging the soaps as they become ready to sell/use. In January, after the holidays, I will again begin making soaps to replenish my supply before the nice weather returns and the farm calls.

If you would like to know more about the varieties of soaps I make or how/where to purchase Don’t Eat It! products you can view them all on my Products page.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

The Soap is Curing

I am sure anyone who makes cold processed soap will agree that the hardest part about it is waiting for the soap to cure.

Maybe I should backup a step for anyone not familiar with soap making. There are basically three methods that can be used for making handcrafted soaps. There is the melt and pour method which involves buying a premade base soap and melting it to add ingredients such as fragrances and colorants then remolding it perhaps into pretty or cute shapes. The other two methods are hot process and cold process. Both of these methods involve mixing lye with liquid and oils. With hot process, once the ingredients are combined the soap is heated in order to speed up the chemical reaction, known as soaponification, which must occur in order for the soap to be safe to use. This soap can be ready to use in a matter of hours. Cold process soap, on the other hand, is poured into the mold after the lye/liquid is mixed with the oils. While it can usually be taken out of the mold in 24 to 48 hours it needs to cure for several weeks while the soaponification takes place. Many factors can effect the speed which soaponification takes place including the soap recipe, the size of the soap bars and the temperatures in which the soap is curing. I allow my soaps to cure for a least six weeks and have almost always found this period to be sufficient.

I have several batches of soap in various stages of curing right now including the soap I made a few days ago by request https://donteatitsoap.com/category/lard-soap/ I honestly found it difficult to make that batch of soap because it was such a simple recipe. It lacks the creativity and experimentation aspects that I find so challenging and fun. While it was very tempting to add extra ingredients I restrained myself because this, three-ingredient, soap was what the person who requested needs.

Some of the other soaps that I have curing have allowed me to be more creative so I will tell you about those. Both the Sweet Dandelion and Coffee soap that I made a while back are cured and ready to use. I have made both of these recipes in the past and they are both favorites.

This time when I made the coffee soap I decided to experiment with it. I have been having some success at getting light fragrances and or colors in my soaps by infusing herbs into the oils. I wondered if this would work for coffee as well. In the past when I have made coffee soap I used brewed coffee for the liquid, I also added coffee grounds. This time in addition to using brewed coffee I added the coffee grounds to my oils. I knew that in order to release the oils from the coffee grounds the coffee would need to be heated much higher than I normally heat my soap oils. I put the coffee grounds into my oils and heated them about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. I then let the coffee infused oils cool.  As usual I mixed my oils with my lye/liquid (brewed coffee) when both were cooled to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Coffee Soap

The coffee infused oils gave the soap a dark, rich coffee color but the fragrance that I had hoped for is still largely absent. I have since read that the optimal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 Fahrenheit so next time I will heat it just a little bit more.

I have had positive feedback from a few people who have used this soap. Comments were things like “it’s a really nice soap” and “I really like it” and my sister who called me yesterday said “I love the coffee soap” and she found it to be “refreshing”.

Among the other soaps that are curing is a completely new recipe. I decided to try this back in the summer when we were harvesting our beautiful cucumber crop. I know that cucumber is often used in skin care products so I wanted to give it a try. I don’t usually make a lot of soap during the summer so I pureed a couple of cucumbers and put them in the freezer until I was ready to make the soap.

About 5 weeks ago I was ready to use the cucumber puree in my soap but I wondered what ingredients would pair well with the cucumber. The most common way we eat cucumbers is as pickles but for more than one reason that doesn’t work for soap. It took me a while to figure it out but I eventually decided to try yogurt. Since milk based soaps are known to be gentle and creamy I though yogurt could add this as well. I also wanted to add an herb to this soap so I decided to infuse my oils with rosemary that I had harvested from our garden. I didn’t want to leave the rosemary leaves in the soap so I put them in a teabag then placed the teabag in the oils as I heated them. I again brought the temperature up higher than I would normally heat them for making soap in order to draw out some of the rosemary properties. When adding the cucumber puree and yogurt I knew that they should be counted as liquid. Since I didn’t know how they would react to being mixed directly with lye I decided to add them later in the process. In order to do this I discounted the amount of water I was mixing with the lye. I decided that the combination of cucumber puree and yogurt should equal 1/3 of my total liquid, I divided the amount of water my recipe called for by 3. I then measured my cucumber puree and added enough yogurt to bring this mixture to 1/3 of my total liquid. I set that mixture aside then measured the other 2/3 water and added my lye to it.

Once the lye/liquid and the oils cooled to around 100 Fahrenheit I removed the rosemary from the oil then I mixed the lye/water with the oils. I blended this mixture until it came to a light trace (started to thicken) then I mixed in the cucumber/yogurt mixture. I continued to mix until the mixture had come to a full trace ( the consistency of a thick gravy) then I poured the mixture into the molds. I am excited that this soap will be ready for testing this week.

I don’t have a formal testing process. It basically goes like this – I use the soap first. I pay attention to it’s properties – hardness, creaminess, lather, does it rinse off well, does it leave my skin feeling soft or dry, is there any scent. I then give my husband a bar to use and get his opinion. With new recipes I generally like feedback from a couple more people, so a friend or family member who stops by when I have a new soap ready will likely be given a bar to try with the condition that they provide me with honest feedback about the soap. I’ll be sure to let you know how this soap turns out.

I do have one major concern about this new recipe with cucumber, yogurt and rosemary.Maybe you can help. The  problem is what the heck do I call it? You can leave your suggestions and any other questions or comments about this post in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading.

🙂 until next time.

 

 

Rendering Beef Tallow

Tallow is an ingredient that is commonly used in soap making and if you are buying commercially made soap, tallow is likely an ingredient. You won’t see tallow listed as such on the package. As an ingredient it will be listed as sodium tallowate, which is the name for soap that has been made by combining tallow with sodium hydroxide (lye).  This Wikipedia article explains other uses for tallow.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallow#Food

Unlike coconut oil, olive oil, lard and some of the other oils used in soap making, tallow is not readily available in most grocery stores. When I first began making soap I used oils that were readily available and while I could have ordered tallow online or perhaps sought it out at a butcher shop, I never did. It wasn’t until we started buying our beef from a local farmer that I began using tallow as an ingredient in some of my soap.

We had ordered a quarter of a cow. When I called the processing facility to tell them how I wanted our beef cut up, I asked if I could get some tallow as well. At that point I had not done all of my homework, I didn’t know that the fat that I wanted was called suet before it was rendered, so the lady did correct me. I did know that I would have to render the fat before it would be suitable for soap making.

When we picked up our meat order I found that the suet was a large chunk of fat wrapped in a large plastic bag. I put it in the freezer until I was ready to use it.

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Suet

 

I had read several tutorials and I realized that in rendering the suet into tallow the objective was to melt the fat in order to separate out any parts that were not pure fat.

I’ll share with you the method that I used and have continued to use ever since.

I started by taking the suet out of the freezer and letting it thaw for a while. It seems that it is easiest to cut while it is still cold but not frozen. I cut it into fairly small pieces. The smaller they are the faster they will melt or the less cooking time it will take. I put the suet pieces in my large stock pot and added enough water to cover it. I put it on the stove and brought it to a boil. Since I did not want the water to cook off I put a cover on it but I tilted the cover so that some of the steam could escape.

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Rendering Tallow

It took a few hours of boiling before most of the fat chunks were completely melted. At this point I dipped in with a sieve and took out some pieces of meat that would obviously not melt.

I then let it cool. Since outside temperatures were in the 40’s (Fahrenheit) and lower, I decided to let it cool outside overnight. The next day the tallow had hardened and floated to the top. The water and some remaining meat particles were in the bottom of the pan. I had to break through the layer of tallow to drain the water off. I did this outside because I didn’t want any tallow particles clogging up my drain.

When I removed the tallow from the pan the bottom was covered in a layer of mushy grey stuff. I scraped off this layer and discarded it. My tallow was not yet as clean as I wanted it so I put it back in the pan, covered it with water and repeated the process.

The tallow did not take nearly as long to melt as the suet did so my cooking time was greatly reduced. After letting the second rendering cool and harden, I again scraped the mushy stuff off the bottom and decided to repeat the process once again.

After the third rendering the tallow looked clean and pure. I placed it on a tray lined with paper towel to dry and patted the top and sides dry with paper towel as well.

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Tallow

I then cut it into chunks, but because it is very hard it cracks rather than cuts, and placed the chunks in a freezer bag. I then store the tallow in the freezer until I am ready to use it.

Tallow is not an essential oil for soap making, and I realize there are individuals who prefer not to use animal fats in their soaps, but tallow does make a hard bar of soap and adds a creaminess to the lather. For me the greatest advantage of tallow is that it can be locally sourced, unlike coconut oil, olive oil and many others that must travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to arrive at my home and be turned into soap.

🙂 Until next time…

Home Made Laundry Soap

I was just mixing up a batch of laundry soap and thought I do a quick post about it. There are many recipes on the internet for homemade laundry detergent. They usually call for grated bar soap such as fels naptha, borax, and washing soda, some add oxyclean and or essential oils for fragrance. The main difference in my recipe is that I use homemade bar soap.

The bar soap that I make for laundry soap has only 3 ingredients. They are coconut oil, water and lye. Out of all of the oils used in soap making coconut oil is most known for it’s cleansing ability. This soap certainly could be used for bathing. My husband likes it but I personally find it to be a little drying. I am sure that is because of it’s cleaning power. I really like it for laundry detergent though. I make a liquid detergent dissolving 1/2 cup each – grated soap, borax, and washing soda in about 2 quarts of very hot water – not boiling. Once all of the ingredients are completely dissolved I add another two quarts of cooler water then I pour it in an old detergent jug. I always shake the jug before using it incase the ingredients have separated, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem at these proportions. This recipe cleans our clothes at least as well as any commercial detergent that I have used in the past, and there is no need for fabric softener, as our clothes come out of the dryer nice and soft.

For anyone thinking about making bar soap using coconut oil as the only oil I will give you some advice.  This recipe will make a very hard bar of soap and it hardens up very quickly. If you want this soap to end up a particular size or shape, mold it that way. Do not expect to cut this into nice looking bars once it has set up. Attempts to cut this soap after it has hardened will result in the soap cracking into any size or shapes it desires.

 

 

 

 

 

Bath Day For The Boys

One 90 lb. Scout + one 120 lb. Trooper on bath day = one big job. What makes it somewhat easier is the fact that they are well behaved when they get their bath. Yesterday when I    announced to the Boys that they were going to get a bath they both came into the bathroom and looked at the tub. I still needed to get things set up for them, so I told Scout he had to wait a few minutes. He laid down to wait.

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Scout waiting for his bath.

We used to give them both their bath’s in our garden tub. My husband hooked a shower hose to the tub faucet and this works well.

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Bath time for Scout and Trooper

We usually bathe them one at a time, but one time my husband actually had them both in the tub together.

Trooper still gets his bath in the tub, but Scout’s advanced age prevents him from jumping into the tub like he used to. Nowadays I remove our glass shower doors so that Scout can just step into the shower. I kneel on the floor beside the shower and wash him up. He loves the attention and he loves it when we tell him he is a “clean puppy”.

A few years back, after I began using my homemade soap for washing my own hair, I decided to try using it on the boys. Buying dog shampoo can be expensive, the highly perfumed fragrance of these often has adverse effects on my sinuses, and getting these shampoos completely rinsed out of the boys coats was a nightmare. Using the soap, on the other hand, there are no added fragrance. It provides a lather that penetrates even Trooper’s extremely thick coat and under coat yet it rinses out nicely. Yesterday I used Aloe Soap but I sometimes use my Hair Care Soap that I use on my own hair.

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Scout and Trooper – the afterbath

After their bath my husband had them lay on the blanket to dry and he gave them a nail trim.

Last night as I petting each one and saying good night I noticed how exceptionally soft Troopers coat was and even Scout’s wirey hair had a softer feel. Indeed, Don’t Eat It! Handcrafted Soaps are good for the whole family, including the dog.