Saturday, January 12, 2013

Household Experiment: Homemade Liquid Soap, Part One

For a while now, I've been saving the ends of the bars of soap - you know those pieces; too small to hold well, annoying to use in the shower, easier to get a new bar of soap.

But to throw them out is a waste, right?  Well, I tried using soap savers - these cool crocheted net things that you stick in tiny pieces in and you use the whole thing to scrub with.  My grandmother used to make these, and when I was a little kid, I found them the most awesome way to take a bath. So I made one, but they weren't popular here.

So I started looking for recipes to make new bars out of the old. I have yet to find one, but I did find a recipe to make liquid soap.  The one I found calls for using bars of Ivory soap, but when I shared the recipe around, I got the advice that the liquid soap it made was rather slimy and got everywhere when you tried to use it.

Now, we use Yardley Oatmeal and Almond soap - mainly because it has been the most effective soap, and didn't irritate our skin - a problem when the kids were little.  It's also only a dollar a bar at Dollar Tree, so it is worth it to keep using it.

So the liquid soap experiment begins.  The first part is to gather all the scrap bars.  I have a bag full, so we used about 1/4 of them.

Next part is to grate the soap,  Now, grating soap is not a new thing for a homesteader.  Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, if you weren't using soap you made yourself, and if you bought specialized laundry soap, it still came in bar form.  To wash clothes, you would grate some of the soap off into a pot of hot or boiling water.  It gives the same effect that you will see in process of making liquid soap - foamy, foamy, foamy!

This part is time consuming.  My lovely husband volunteered about an hour and a half of his time to grate most of the soap bits for me!

Here it is, all grated up.  Next, get a large pot you can easily reach into - I used my largest stock pot.  This, however, is where I started eyeballing and guessing. Looking at the amount of soap powder now in the bowl, I figured that at most it was equal to 1 1/2 full sized bars.  Now, the original recipe called for 12 cups of water into the pan; I started with eight.

Into the pan it goes, and the water is set on high.  The idea is to mix in the soap flakes and boil the water until all the soap is dissolved, while at the same time whisking it to make sure it stays mixed.  This is where life gets foamy.  I judged that the mixture was a little thick, so I added another 2 cups of water.  I got out a gravy ladle to check the mixture - I couldn't see through the foam, so I'd stop whisking and and push the foam aside, and scoop some of the liquid up.

All in all, this process took less than 10 minutes before it looked all smooth and dissolved to me.

See? Foamy, foamy, foamy!  

And this is where it becomes a two part experiment - this needs to sit overnight.  So I will be taking it to the basement to sit, cool and thicken, and tomorrow finish part two.


Egg count today was three, and boy howdy was it cold!  Some of the chickens had to be forced to go outside for a bit- we literally had to pick them up and put them out.  Coop got a quick cleaning so that they could come back in sooner.  They were not happy campers. 

Current temperature as the sun starts to set? 12 degrees, with a feels like -4. Tonight expected to get down to - 8.  Winter is back in full force.

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