Yield: 6 Pounds
|See Part 1|
: Continued from Part 1
* In the U.S., Red Devil lye comes in 12-oz containers. In Europe it generally comes in 350-g containers, which is about 3 percent more.
You don't want to measure lye, you want to use the whole container.
If your container is not this size, then scale the recipe up or down accordingly. Leftover lye is a serious disposal problem.
* Where to buy 9 pounds of fat? If you're using an animal fat (beef or pork), you can buy it from your butcher. What I find I have to do is reserve it, because they normally don't keep the fat after they've cut up their cow. Sometimes they will charge you for the fat (I've paid anywhere from 10 to 45 cents a pound); sometimes they won't.
I've only ever made soap with beef fat; this makes a hard, mild, slow-lathering soap. The recipe will work equally well with other animal fats to produce a similar result. Coconut oil yields a softer, quick-lathering soap. Olive oil and other vegetable cooking oils yield a very soft soap that never completely hardens.
Unfortunately, these oils are sensitive to air and light, and soap made from cooking oils will spoil in a few weeks unless it is refrigerated.
* Volatile fragrance oils, also called essential oils, are highly concentrated scent ingredients. You can usually buy them at health-food stores, and you can sometimes find exotic fragrances at specialty food-and-spice shops. The amount that you should use depends on how fragrant you want the soap to be. A few drops of musk oil is enough to scent an entire batch of soap; less-potent fragrances such as a fruit oil might require about a teaspoon or two 5-10 ml. Soap scented with herbs is also popular; herbs like lemon thyme or verbena or lavender work well. To scent with herbs, make an herbal oil by packing a ½-cup (approximately) container with herbs and then filling it with a pleasant-smelling vegetable oil, such as almond oil. Let this mixture sit for a few weeks, stirring it every day, then heat in a double boiler for 10 minutes, then cool and strain the oil.
* The soap works just fine with no fragrance at all, and many people prefer it that way. I certainly do.
* You may run into problems at the stage "Add the fat and stir until it's all melted." I almost always do. What happens is that the water/lye mixture runs out of heat before all the fat melts. What you have to do is add heat somehow. The way I do this is to grab the tub (which now contains all the fat), go into the kitchen, put it on top of a burner, and turn the burner (and the fan) on high. (Make sure the windows are all open too.) When all the fat is melted, I go back outside and continue, adding the lemon juice.
* The lemon juice lowers the pH. The finished soap will have a pH of about 9; you can lower this by adding more lemon juice.
: Difficulty: challenging.
: Time: Day 1: 30 minutes preparation; 1-2 hours cooking.
: Day 2: usually about 1 hour. : Precision: Be precise. Also be careful.
: Aviva Garrett
: Santa Cruz, CA
: Excelan, Inc., San Jose
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