Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Squeaky clean

A couple of weeks ago my friend Stephanie and I put in an order for some soap-makin' supplies. Justin and I were on furlough from work today, so we went to pick up our share of the lye.

We were going to make soap at some point in the future. But if you know my husband, you know the suspense is always killing him. He likes to do stuff NOW, and I like that about him. He's not afraid to try anything at all and he usually lets me help.

So after we procured a few things we'd need (and a few we didn't -- I'm looking at you, Justin, and your Snickers bars!), we were ready to make soap.

Disclaimer: This is not a soap recipe, although we did follow a tried-and-true method while observing all the safety precautions. To make your own lye soap, please familiarize yourself with the correct ways to handle lye.

My friend Eleanor says all the best Southern recipes begin with the phrase, "First, you get some lard." If it's good enough for cornbread, it's good enough for soap.

In a 13-quart stock pot, Justin combined lard, coconut oil and olive oil.

Then in a separate container, he measured distilled water, to which he added the lye. Working with lye is incredibly dangerous. Its fumes alone can just about knock you out. So we moved outside for that part of the operation.

Safety first!

Here he is adding the lye and water to the fats. After this, we were ready to move inside and start blending!

When the mixture reached its trace stage -- resembling a thickening pudding -- I threw in a handful of rosemary and about 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Then it was time to pour our soap into the molds (for now, inexpensive plastic drawer organizers).

Then we covered them in plastic wrap, cleaned up the kitchen and had tacos for dinner. We are some crazy mo-fos over here. Within 24 hours or so, the soap will be firm enough to cut. Then we will let it cure for several weeks.

It already smells wonderful, although Justin says it smells like a hippie. Regardless, we'll keep you posted on how it turns out.


  1. I am laughing so hard at that picture of you in the goggles!!! I'm seriously being looked at like I'm crazy by my pastor. Too funny!!! It looks so great and I can't wait to get a bar!!!

  2. I am sure it does smell exactly like a hippie.