The Blather Lather

After reading Pat Rothfuss’ “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” I wanted to make soap. I had been wanting to use up the ridiculous amount of fat I had saved in my freezer over the last couple years ANYWAY and this book just nudged me into a decision.

We use fat we save for cooking in our cat iron skillet, some in pemmican, some in the dog food I make, but there is still a lot left over. I decided to make soap because it looked easier and more interesting than making candles.

Obviously I forgot how I slept through high school chemistry.

I read several sources online to prepare, including:

http://tonisouth.com/top-10-questions-about-handmade-soap/

http://millersoap.com

http://www.skinandsoulcompany.com/cold_process_soap_making.html

You get the idea. There are a ton of resources out there. I even watched a video and found a couple paragraphs about soap making in a “self sufficient living” book…

After days of cogitating, I felt ready.

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Had to search four places before I found lye at Chase Hardware. It can apparently be found at Home Depot as well but our internet search said they were out. The young lady at Lowe’s gave me a blank look and told me it “didn’t ring a bell.”  How could LYE not “ring a bell”? This is Albuquerque, the home of Breaking Bad, for crying out loud…. Making meth is apparently one reason why it’s so hard to find lye…

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I got out all the various animal fats I’ve saved from cooking the last couple years. We use bacon grease for cooking, so I kept that out. This is rendered chicken fat, beef fat, lamb fat, and pork fat. The lamb is rather stinky.

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I made rose water from our rather pathetic end of season roses. Won’t bother next time, I don’t think any of it made it through the lye process.

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I’m rendering the fats one more time. I love this part. Turning nasty greasy stuff into a smooth, beautiful chunk of creamy purity is amazingly satisfying.

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Strained through a cheesecloth. Look how lovely and reflective it is. Apparently over cooking makes it dark, don’t know which time I did that. I’m not worried about the color anyway.

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I mixed the rose water, which ended up looking like tea, in with the lye, then mixed it with the slightly cooled oils. I think I did this at too high a temperature because I got distracted. Or impatient. We will see if it messed me up or not.

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After a while it started to lighten and thicken. It’s amazing how much heat this process produces. And fumes. I opened up the windows and doors and turned on the exhaust fan and it still made my nose run. Looks like butterscotch syrup. Smells like hell.

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After about forty five minutes I got REALLY impatient and poured it into my molds. Looked like that weird chewy peanut butter candy you get at Halloween.  Could not stop touching the smoothness.

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This is how it looked this morning when I uncovered it. Upon rereading I was supposed to cover it with plastic wrap. Looks like the exposed surface dried out some. 

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I tried popping one out. It’s the texture of butter and while I can’t smell the lye now, it certainly needs to harden up. I need to quit messing with it. Update later.

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