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:
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.