Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to Make the All Natural Soap that Goes in Your Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've recently learned how to make the low-fat soap that goes into making homemade laundry detergent. So, instead of buying Zote or Felsnaptha (around $2 a bar), I'll be grating my own soap for around .50 cents per bar. This means I can make 10 gallons of liquid laundry detergent for less than a dollar, even less if I render my own lard. How sweet is that? This took less than an hour to make all these bars. Granted, you can't use them for 6 weeks because they need to cure. I just made some laundry detergent out of some soap that my friend made (exact same recipe and method) and it cleaned very well. I'm going to give you step by step instructions below.

Here is my mad scientist partner, Laurie, putting on her gloves in preparation for measuring and adding the lye and water. My other friend, Diane, joined us in our soap experimentations. Our hubbies watched the kidlets (we're all MOPS moms) while we hung out in Laurie's open garage and entertained her neighbors, hee hee. When making soap, you always want to have really good ventilation because as my Laurie put it, the "sneaky little man called lye" likes to crawl into your throat and gitch ya. 

So here are the ingredients we use:

3 lbs of lard or tallow by weight
6.5 oz of lye
12 oz cold water

1. In a tall container you don't care about, (she used a plastic pitcher), dump lye into water, pouring slowly. Stir with a whisk until lye granules are dissolved completely.

2. Measure out 3 lbs of lard or tallow, melt until just barely a liquid. (95 to 98 degrees F). These are NOT lye burns on Laurie's hands but a birthmark.

3. Our other partner in crime, Diane, looks on as we put the lye and water mixture on ice to cool down to the temp as the lard (95 to 97 degrees F). Swirl often to avoid hot spots.

4. As soon as both temps for the lye liquid and the melted fat are at 95 to 98 degrees F., pour lye into the larger container with fat in it. Immediately blend until "trace" using a stick blender. You may need to blend and let rest for a minute to help it get to trace. Honestly, I would probably use an old blender for this stage next time. Some people don't like to use these appliances because they can create air bubbles, but you are only going to grate this up and use if for laundry soap, so who cares what it looks right, right? The picture above is of the soap going into the trace stage. You can see it is getting a little bit thicker. I would say it is about the consistency of liquid soap at trace. 

5. Another mad scientist on the loose,  Ha Ha Ha (insert evil laugh). As soon as you hit trace, you can add whatever scents you want and blend well. I find scents very expensive and I don't really care if my laundry soap is unscented. Next time, I'll fore go this step.

6. Pour into the mold. 

This recipe fit perfectly into this half gallon milk carton with the side cut open that served as a lid. Laurie lined it with parchment paper. It worked great!

Laurie had her husband make these soap boxes that hold the flexible carton molds. This just make the soap more even looking. It also keeps the soap from touching the towels you will soon wrap it in. 

7. Insulate with 3 old towels and let sit 24 hours without disturbing. Absolutely no peeking! 

8. Soap should be hard after 24 hours (if it isn't, let it sit longer). Rip the mold away from the block of soap. Laurie used an old miter box to measure out 1 inch blocks. I'm not that precise, but she's a good influence on me. You can use a pencil and a ruler for this task.

9. Laurie used the miter box to make straight cuts. The soap is hard to cut, so may want to use a wash cloth to push down on the top of the other end of the knife while cutting.10. Here is a sample of Laurie's soap that she had made before. The bars look prettier than mine. If you can, store bars on their ends so they don't touch like the very top picture of this post shows, for 2 or 3 days. then you can store them like this, just flip them over every couple of days for 6 weeks. It will help them cure completely. Laurie used this old meat box to store them in. 

That is it! 10 easy steps, a few bucks and less than an hour of your time and you've got enough natural laundry soap to make your own liquid laundry detergent. This amount should you last 6 months to a year, depending on how much laundry you do. Hope this post has inspired some of you to give it a try!

God Bless,
Jackie

46 comments:

Amy said...

Great idea. I am very sensitive to stuff, so I probably won't do this.

Sarah said...

So cool Jackie! I'm in awe of how creative you are!...I am terrified of using lye though...

Glad you had fun in your experimenting!

God Bless

Lori said...

I recognized the lye burns on your friend's hand. My grandmother made homemade laundry soap once a year and we always knew when she had made a new batch by the burns on her hands. It's a great idea, always wanted to try it but never have.

RaD said...

I'd love to say yes it has inspired me, but not so much, sorry :( But I loved reading it nonetheless :) I wish I had a wee bit more time and patience an ummm... well more pig lard?? Uhhh... maybe not, but it looks like if you do that with a group it could be a lot of fun just spending time together.

Thanks for sharing, I really do enjoy reading about your advetures in soapland even if I don't join in :)

Rosemi said...

Thanks Jackie, I have wanted to learn this for a long time. I will have to wait. This just isn't my season. I have looked and looked. They just don't sell lye around where I live.

Jenn said...

Interesting...not sure you can buy lye locally here either.

Catherine said...

Jackie, you are the cutest thing since...slice soap! I love this post even if I'd never do this myself. I'm making kraut instead.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Sarah,
I was scared of lye, too, but with gloves on, it wasn't big deal. My friend was just extremely tough OR crazy, LOL. If you do get some on you, you can have a bottle of vinegar nearby which will help neutralize the lye, so it doesn't burn bad.

Rosami and Jenn,
I have to special order the lye through our local hardware store. I don't think they have it on shelves because some people use it in their meth recipes.

Catherine,
I've got 2 1/2 gallons of kraut fermenting, too. Can't wait until it is ready. We tried our pickles and they turned out great.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

My friend, Laurie, saw this post and she wanted me to make sure that everyone knew those are birthmarks on her hands not lye burns!

LoveMyCrazyFamily said...

An easy soap recipe I use is
74 oz. olive oil
14 oz. coconut oil
12 oz lye
24 oz. water
It takes a bit longer to come to trace and is a bit more expensive. About .82 for a 4 oz bar but I love how multi-purpose it is. Since it's a castile soap I can use it for laundry soap, bar soap, dish soap, shampoo and now the tooth soap and homemade 409 I found here!As a mother of 5 I am always on the look out for savings. I thought 1 soap for 4 uses was great. 6 is even better! Thank you for your recipes! I absolutely enjoy your blog!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I'm so glad you found yet another use for your homemade castille soap!

GodlyWomanOfTruth said...

Enjoyed your page. God bless!

Alex said...

@Amy, I am a soap maker and I can tell you that this is the mildest soap you'll ever get/make, which is good for your skin. If you are sensitive to stuff, what do you use today? All laundry detergents out there are just that "detergents" not soaps (not very good for skin sensitivities) and the all-natural laundry soap is great but pricy, making your own is wise for your skin and your pocket.

BTW, ALL soaps are made with lye, and that's no lie. :-) It is just not possible to make it without it. I make soap every day and I have never had any burns... rubber gloves and goggles are your BFFs when making soap. BTW, ACE hardware stores carry lye.

For those who prefer not to render your own fats, vegetable oils are economical, readily available and less smelly to work with, they'll set you back a few more dollars though. Coconut oil makes a very lathery soap.

Good luck to all in your soap-making endeavour!
Alex

Anonymous said...

oh boy, now I realize how old this thread is... oh well. Sorry for resuscitating it!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Alex, I love it when my posts get resuscitated! Thanks so much for your input :) I didn't know that about coconut oil making a soap lathery. Again, thanks for chiming in :)

Melody Mays said...

I'm so glad you did, after I saw her post and no one had answered, I wondered and I just found this today!
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I make this exact same recipe. I line a small box bottom that canned goods come in with a trash bag and use that for a mold. Flip it out when its firm and cut it when it's a firm as cheddar cheese 15-30 minutes. Then let it cure for 3 weeks. I also make scented with herbs and essential oils. The plain I use for laundry soap and the scented for liquid hand soap. I sell the excess.

desirealukmax said...

I am so new to any of this but would love to learn. Can I buy lard? Do I have to ask a butcher for something specific??

shirley said...

I never thought of buying lye, I read how ti make my own for soap making and said no thanks. I will keep this in my list of recipes I may need or want to try but I can get the soap for .99 a bar and one batch will last us for a year. This would be too much for us now. This is great to know.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

You can buy lard in Walmart or you can ask your local butcher to save you the fat and you can render it yourself in a crockpot, which is really easy to do. Hope that helps!

Jennifer said...

A few notes (I'm a soap maker too). It is good to wear goggles when mixing the lye. I mix mine outside with the wind at my back so I don't breathe the fumes. Also, keep a bottle of vinegar handy in case their is a spill. It will help neutralize the lye. And NEVER mix lye or soap in aluminum. They lye will eat it. You CAN buy lard. Look in the Hispanic cooking aisle. It comes in tubs.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Great tips, Jennifer!

Jeanie said...

This is the soap I make all the time but I make it 7-10 lbs at a time. Tip: If you add just a little sugar you get a little more lather. :)
For those nervous about the lye...it's no different than taking something hot out of the oven. If you reach in there with your bare hand its going to burn you. If you use a hot pad, it won't. Just know how to use it and its very easy to use.
To the person sensitive. This is the mildest soap you can possibly make...even moreso than olive oil soap. The lye "cooks" out and all that is left is the gentle soap. You could safely use this on your baby's butt without any issues.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

That is great to know about the sugar, Jeanie! Thanks for chiming in :)

Jenelah said...

So how do you render your own fat for lard?

Jenelah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I put my fat in the crock pot, let it render for about 24 hours on low and then strain it through a cheese cloth into a plastic bucket that I can freeze. Great way to use up more of the animal.

Anonymous said...

Don't be afraid of the lye; just use proper safety equipment. I started making soap a couple of months ago nd really enjoy it. After you combine the fats and the lye, the mixture goes through a chemical change called saponification. After the soap cures, it's as mild as you want it to be.

Connie said...

would you be willing to sell any of you soap?

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Connie, I just ran out of lard this last weekend as I made 12 batches of blender milk soap for gifts for Christmas. I can't do it at this time, but it makes me feel good that you asked :)

Connie said...

If you would ever decide to sell any please let me know. I would like to try one batch of homemade laundry soap before making a whole batch of lye soap.

Anonymous said...

How do you turn the bars into laundry soap?

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

You grate them. See this recipe for how to make the laundry soap: http://homesteadwannabes.blogspot.com/2010/02/homemade-laundry-soapstain-remover.html

Donna Hendry said...

Late comer, but curious if anyone has made this with tallow rather than lard? I have a slew of it rendered in the fridge, but the lard I rendered gets used a lot more often! Had some people suggest I might want to check the lye to tallow ratio as compared to the lard...any ideas?

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I've never made it with tallow, but I don't see why you couldn't. I've used tallow in my blender soap. Just have to watch it because it sets up really quick :)

Lisa Sisco said...

for those of you who really want to make the lye soap, but cant find the lye..you can make your own with water and wood ashes...it is very easy and there are lots of instructions on how to do it out there on the internet...also, the homemade lye is actually better for your skin.

Anonymous said...

My second grade teacher had our class save bacon drippings and fat to bring to school to make soap -- we took some home and my mom loved it. We also made carvings out of it -- fun project.

Shana Renzema said...

Lye has been controlled lately -- you can't buy it in cleaning aisles anymore, but you can buy it through soapmaking supply companies. Some large cities have soap supply houses, otherwise it's mail order, I think.

Anonymous said...

Just want to point out any time you're going to try to make soap you should always run a new recipe through a lye calculator. A great one is at https://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php. I ran this recipe through and it was just fine but it's always better safe than sorry. Lye is safe if handled properly and you shouldn't get lye burns if you are. Good luck and be safe.

Diana Jo said...

For those looking for lye locally, I have found it at both my co-op (sells all the animal/vet/straw/farm stuff) and my local Ace Hardware. It is not at *any* of my local big box stores!

lemniskate67 said...

be sure to ask at customer service for lye. My local Lowe's had it, but they keep it behind the counter.

Duane Bauman said...

Tallow actually makes a better soap but is harder to come by then lard. I have always had compliments on my soap being easier on the skin. Some friends who were very sensitive to soaps found my soaps easy to use with no side effects. Years ago when I lived in London , On. Ca. I would by Calcium Hydroxide from industrial sources and this worked fine . At that time it was easier to access and cheaper then Lye. I am told Home Hardware sells a container about the size of 2 gallons for under 20 dollars. Don't know if this is correct.

Anonymous said...

I order both sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide from www.essentialdepot.com as I can't find it in the hardware stores around here. Then again, I live in an area with alot of meth-heads around sucking it down so that is probably why. This site has lots of good stuff on it, if you order a big wad you can save on shipping costs. Love this article, I am a beginner and made all-olive oil soap - great on my skin, not so much for clothes and dishes. I can't wait to try this out.

Jan said...

I have always wanted to make soap because I grew up using my gramma's homemade soap.
Since I don't have a scale to measure by weight, can you give a recipe that uses volume measurements instead?
Also, could I simply use your recipe for blender milk soap but use water instead of milk? Or could I make the milk soap and use it in the laundry soap?
Seeing the comments about calcium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, are these equivalent to sodium hydroxide for soap making? What would be the difference? (I'm a chicken about using the lye!)
Thanks so much!!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Jan, I'm sorry, I'm not a soap making expert. I don't worry too much about exact measurements. It always seems to turn out OK. Lye really isn't a big deal. It is found in nature. In fact I'm going to start making my own out of hardwood ash soon. Just use gloves if you are worried about it. I've seriously considered making this, using the blender. I think it would work just fine with water instead of lye. Hope that answers your questions :) Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Jan: According to what I've read, sodium hydroxide is used for making bar soap. Potassium hydroxide is used for making liquid soap. I've never heard of calcium hydroxide. I'll have to look that up. I've made bar soap but not liquid soap yet, but that's next on my "to do" list. It's easy and fun. I just wait until the kids are in bed so they aren't around the lye just to be safe. Don't be afraid of the lye. Jeanie's comment is right. Just wear gloves and safety glasses. Some people make exact measurements and some just kind of throw things together. I think that as long as it's close it doesn't need to be exact. You might be nervous the first time, but after you do it once or twice you'll see it's not that scary. Go here http://www.soapcalc.net/calc/soapcalcwp.asp. It gives you a list of oils and also gives you percentages and pounds and lots of other stuff. You can experiment on there before you make some :)

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