Saturday, March 13, 2010

SOAPMAKING: Making Tallow, Coconut oil, Olive oil soap

Not long ago, we took the plunge and made soap!

Rendering Suet into Tallow
1. The first thing we did was to render the tallow, which means taking a chunk of suet, chop it up into small pieces, immerse it in water in a stock pot and boil it until it melts and looks like this. We had 3 big blocks of beef and lamb suet in our freezer, and we made about 14 pounds of soap.

2. Then we strained out the chunks of meat and gristle using a very fine collander.  taking it one measuring cup at a time, and let cool, then placed in refrigerator overnight until the fat rose to the top of the water and could be removed, cut.

3. Then I froze the tallow until ready to use to make the soap.

Making Basic Soap:

Basic soap Recipe:
40 oz tallow
20 oz olive oil
20 oz coconut oil
11.3 oz sodium hydroxide (lye) (5% superfatted) lye calculator
30 oz distilled water

  1. Always add lye gradually to water, not the other way, because it could react too fast.
  2. Use gloves, goggles (you never want to touch the lye or get any in your eyes)
  3. Have vinegar on hand to neutralize the lye. You can make a solution of soap, water, vinegar to neutralize it immediately if it gets on your skin or counter, etc.
  4. Never use alluminum w/lye. Use stainless steel, wood, or strong plastic.
  5. open a window near where you will be working. There is some offgassing from the chemical reaction.
Essential tools: (basic soap)
Brambleberry Soap supplies
  1. stainless steel pots
  2. wood or silicone stirrers.  (wood will wear -out faster)
  3. Immersion blender w/stainless stell blade. (this is not absolutely necessary, but it will help the process take much less time)
  4. large plastic tupperware container  or wooden mold.
  5. Large cutting knife, or soap cutter.
  6. 2 candy thermometers
  7. 2 dishpans for cold water baths
  8. 1 pitcher (2L) (strong plastic or stainless) with spout (for water that will be mixed with lye
  9. 1 pyrex 2cup measuring cup.  (for dry lye) with spout.
  10. goggles
  11. gloves
  12. mask
  13. dishpans to put lye covered dirty dishes in to rest for 24 hours before washing.
  14. (optional) newspaper to cover areas you don't want lye to touch
  15. 1 kitchen scale
  16. plastic canvas/needlework canvas for curing soap
Tools for Milling
  1. soap molds
  2. colors
  3. distilled water
  4. fragrances
  5. herbs, wheat germ, oatmeal, etc..(whatever additives the recipe calls for)
  6. food processor makes grating basic soap easy
  7. double boiler or insert to make 2 pans turn into double boilerdouble boiler maker
  8. olive oil spray

  1. measure out your fats, add them to a pan, and melt.  (add candy thermometer 1).  Turn off stove when it is all melted.
  2. measure your water and lye, then add your lye to your water and mix until it is dissolved. (add candy thermometer 2)
  3. You want the 2 mixtures: fat and lye water to register the same temp about 100-105 degrees F. You can lower temp by putting container in cool water bath. It helps to have 2 people to do this. 
  4. When they are the same temp, very slowly add the lye water to the a very thin string-like stream and mix with spoon.
  5. After it is mixed in, take the immersion blender(ALWAYS keep blender blade UNDER the liquid-you don't want any lye spraying out at you!!) and blend for about 10 minutes or until it reaches "trace" (when it slightly thickens and will hesitate to drip off the blender/spoon) or leave a mark on the top that stays only for a moment when stirring with spoon)
  6. After trace, you can either add your addtives oils, etc.. (recipe) or simply pour into mold.  I recommend milling rather than putting additives in at this point. The recipe is still reacting and may compromise the oils, or freeze up and you risk spoiling the batch. Milling is more work, but more guarenteed to accomplish the kind of soap you may want.
  7. Cover the mold, then wrap 2 towels around it to keep it warm for about 48 hours while it finishes reacting and sets.
  8. After it sets, unmold it onto a cutting board. Still wear gloves, because there could potentially be lye pockets in the soap.  cut up the soap into bars.
  9. At this stage, you can either cure the basic soap. (it needs to dry for 3-4 weeks) or you can mill it into more specialized soaps.  If you cure it at this step, lay it out onto plastic canvases, flip every once in a while and let dry.
Milling soap
I recommend the recipes in this book:

just watch out in some versions, there is a mistake in it where it says to add water to the lye..those books were recalled, but I ended up with one of those, so they are in circulation. 

  1. Essentially, you take a pound of your soap, you grate it (a food processor makes this much easier).

  2. You measure about 9 oz of water. 

  3. You slowly melt your soap into the water (adding water gradually to melting soap (using double boiler). Sometimes this can take up to an hour.  Depending on your type of soap.  With my recipe, it did take about an hour. 

  4. After it is melted, you can mix in your addtives.

  5.  spray your molds(very lightly) with olive oil spray, then put soap into molds,

  6. put molds into the freezer for 1-2 hours,

  7. then unmold onto the canvases to cure for 3-4 weeks. They will shrink. 

  8. Then shave off edges

  9. package.  I used sheer pourous fabric to wrap in then I tied them and included a tag(with ingredients) that was attached to the string.

For Kids
  • There is a VERY easy way to make soap with children.  You buy a base melt and pour soap, you melt it in a double boiler and add color/fragrance and pour into molds. let sit until it hardens, then unmold and it can be used immediately.  


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