Vegetable-oil soap

Yield: 5 & 1/2 lbs

Measure Ingredient
1 quart Cold water
10¼ ounce Pure lye crystals
23 ounces White vegetable shortening
42 ounces Olive oil
16 ounces Coconut oil

If you have trouble getting animal fat, or don't want to render it down, this soap is for you. This formula makes a mild soap rich with coconut oil and olive oil.

SUPPLIES 2 quart lye-proof cooking pot plus 8-quart lye-proof cooking pot (stainless steel, stoneware, or enameled cast iron) rubber work gloves goggles, safety glasses, or face shield face mask 1 cup white vinegar (used as safety precaution only) stainless steel or wooden spoon dairy, meat, or candy thermometer hand eggbeater flexible plastic soap molds, such as margarine tubs or cardboard or wooden boxes lined with plastic wrap * BE SAFE. Lye is very caustic; it can destroy skin by chemical action. Handle it very carefully.

Place water in the 2-quart lye-proof pot. Put on rubber gloves and other safety gear. Have the vinegar handy. Very slowly add lye crystals to water, constantly stirring until lye is dissolved. As lye is added to water, the water temperature will rise to around 150 deg F. Place the thermometer in the water and allow it to cool to 95 to 98 degrees.

As the water is cooling, slowly heat the vegetable shortening and oils in the 8-quart lye-proof pot until it reaches 95 to 98 F. When both lye and fats are in the same 95 to 98 F temperature range, slowly pour lye into fat, stirring constantly until well-mixed. Beat mixture very gently with the eggbeater to the consistency of thick honey. Avoid splashing.

Pour the mixture into molds, cover with a blanket, and set aside to dry for 24 hours, well away from children or pets. After 24 hours, carefully turn the soap out of the molds and leave it in a dry, airy place for at least two weeks. A fine white powder may appear on the surface when the soap is a few days old. This is sodium carbonate.

Wash it away when the soap is mature; it tends to make the skin dry.

* Notes: Lye is crystalline sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.

It is usually sold in the drain cleaner section of supermakets and hardware stores. Buy pure lye crystals or flakes, not lye sold as a liquid drain cleaner. Buy coconut oil from drug stores and health food stores.

Source: Rodale's Book of Practical Formulas Typed by Fran McGee

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