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Thread: Any Soapmakers on board?

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Question Any Soapmakers on board?

    My mom picked up this book
    https://www.discountbooksale.com/p92...ant-Soaps.html

    I read through the whole thing and made some notes. but I came to a point where the book contains contradictory information.. This is very dangerous when working with Sodium Hydroxide (lye). So I had a question for anyone who makes lye soap.

    The basic hot-process recipe for lard or tallow (a "single-oil" recipe) calls for these ingredients. It's scaled down to 1 oz. and you would multiply by the weight of the soap batch you want to make:
    1 oz. lard
    1/2 oz. water
    1/2 oz. lye

    seems straightforward enough until you flip over about 10 pages to a table that gives the saponification values of the oils. You use these values to calculate amounts for making your own recipes.
    1 oz. Lard in this table has a saponification value (how much lye to add for 100% saponification) of .138 oz lye.
    That is quite a difference, and we are talking about using VERY caustic materials. Too much lye in your batch will make soap that not only removes dirt, but skin too!
    so which is it? .5 oz or .138 oz? that's the difference between removing dirt and removing skin...

    I got a pound of lard and a small can of lye for $6 today and I want to learn to make my own soap. I don't want to waste the materials and I don't want to burn my flesh off either.. so there's my dilemma.

    I've tried digging through the countless websites about soapmaking and most all of them have really complicated recipes requiring essential oils and all kinds of crap I don't care about using. I have no intention of making perfumed soaps.. I just wanna get clean. I want to just use fat and lye and make soap.. simple.
    If anyone knows the CORRECT amount of lye to use per oz of tallow or a really good site that has single-oil recipes, please let me know. I really want to learn how to do this. It's part of my self-reliant ideal. I'd have made soap today, but I ran into this problem and can't seem to get straight answers.
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  2. #2

    Exclamation Hi!

    Hi, my mom is a soapmaker and was president of the TSA (texas soapmakers assoc.) she currently owns Round Top Natural Soap I would be happy to give you her email or phone number as she is very helpful to anyone who wants to get into soap making. Also if you live near Central-Texas she does allow people to visit her shop and watch her make all of her stuff. Email me at ***************** for her contact info as I don't want to post it publicly. You may also contact her through her site which you can find by google-ing "round top natural soap" because I don't know if providing links is allowed. Hope this helps!

    Robert S.
    Last edited by Sarge47; 04-06-2010 at 07:21 AM. Reason: Removed e-mail link.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbstractYouth View Post
    Hi, my mom is a soapmaker and was president of the TSA (texas soapmakers assoc.) she currently owns Round Top Natural Soap I would be happy to give you her email or phone number as she is very helpful to anyone who wants to get into soap making. Also if you live near Central-Texas she does allow people to visit her shop and watch her make all of her stuff. Email me at for her contact info as I don't want to post it publicly. You may also contact her through her site which you can find by google-ing "round top natural soap" because I don't know if providing links is allowed. Hope this helps!

    Robert S.
    Hi AbstractYouth , mabe you can head over to the introduction section and tell us about yourself .
    this link will help ya out. http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...ead.php?t=7813
    Last edited by welderguy; 04-06-2010 at 12:59 AM.
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    Senior Member Winnie's Avatar
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    YCC I found this on the Big Green Idea website. It's got instructions recipes etc and also safety tips. There is also an explanation on how the causticity(is that a word) is reduced by leaving the soap in a warm place and turning a few times for 4 weeks. Anyway have a read, it's got some pretty useful info.

    http://www.google.com/cse?cx=0166601...eenidea.org%2F
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    Thanks AY. I sent you an email. You may want to remove your address from the post above since this is a public forum.

    And thanks Winnie. I'll be reading over that. Good link!
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    Super-duper Moderator Sarge47's Avatar
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    Cool Yo, Abstract youth!

    1st, I deleted the e-mail link you posted. To come on here & do that with your very 1st post & NOT post a proper intro makes it look like spam & you a spammer! You can't use this site for free advertising even if it's your mom. 2nd, it's not safe to post personal e-mail addresses anyway. 3rd, you need to post a proper intro: Go here 1st & follow the guidelines:

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...ead.php?t=7813

    Then post it in the introduction section under "General Chat."

    Thanks.
    SARGE
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    Thanks Sarge. Sure don't want him getting all the bad stuff that comes with posting emails on a public forum!
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    After much more reading and looking over large batch recipes, I'm still confused as to the amount of lye to use per ounce of fat.
    I'm just not finding the answers I'm looking for. I'm just about ready to "just go for it".
    One other question.. phenolphtheylene or litmus?
    I can get pH testers for swimming pools for about 10 bucks at wally world, and strips from the garden supply a little cheaper. My book gives more contradictory info in this area.. one page says between a pH of 6 and 12, and another page says between 7 and 10. The surplus (pH above 7 which is neutral water) would be from "superfatting" but I'm curious as to what benefit a pH of 10 would have over pH of 7.
    If anyone has a simple, small-batch (1lb or convertable) recipe, I'd love to have it posted for reference. I don't want to spend $20 on lard that might or might not turn out.
    Thanks in advance.
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    I'm still really confused whether it's .5oz lye per ounce fat or if it's .138oz lye per fat.
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    I've never made soap. There are a ton of links to soap making, but none that I looked at seem to be using your recipe. http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...e+soap+at+home
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    Ive always wanted to try making soap but havent yet.
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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    Here is a lye calculator for makinng soap,add your chosen ingredients,and choose which type of lye you have,and it will calcutlate a recipe with the needed amount of lye,I haven't tried it though.
    http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php


    Here is a list of calculators to choose from,again,I have not tried any of these,so I do not know how their calculations turn out.

    http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/ly...oplyecalcs.htm
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    Thanks nell. I'll give them a try and see if I can get any sort of consistent result. The problem is in the variation of lye per ounce of lard. one says one thing, another says something else.
    I read about 30 links on soapmaking yesterday and still at a loss. Maybe the calculators will help me figure it out.
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    Senior Member Winnie's Avatar
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    Just out of interest YCC. Have you thought about making your own lye from wood ash. I'm assuming you have a fair bit of it from smoking the skins?
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    YCC,
    I found this recipe for lard and lye soap. ttp://www.ehow.com/how_4742049_make-lye-soap-lard.html It looks pretty simple.

    Only use plastic, glass or wood as the lye will react to any metal and the soap will not saponify (chemical reaction between the oil and lye).

    From my experience when you measure the ingredients for soap it is by weight not volume. When I say by weight I mean water, lye, lard, and any oils you put in.You need a kitchen scale.

    If you decide to add coloring, exfoliates, emollients, or skin smoothing agents measure these by volume. (cup, spoon, liter)


    I have a recipe I use but it involves lye, water, lard, coconut oil, olive oil and soy oil. I've used it and know how it works. I'm not sure about the one on this link.

    Hope this works for you. Let me know how you do. If you need anything holler, I have someone I can consult with on the chemistry.
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    BlueXDog I have digital scales accurate to .01 oz. Kitchen scales (according to my book) are not accurate enough for small batch recipes. there will be no essential oils, or other scents, or colors.. none of that. I just want to get clean.
    If you have someone you can ask about the ACTUAL lye to lard ratio, that would be great. That's where I'm hung up. I don't want to make soap that burns your skin.
    Thanks for the link. It's a much larger batch than I want to make for a test run and the math is still contradictory to most of the other info on the web.. 6 pounds of fat x 16 oz per pound = 96 ounces of lard. 96 ounces lard divided by 13 ounces of lye = 7.384 ounces lard per ounce of lye. 1 ounce of lye divided by 7.384 = .135 ounces of lye per ounce of lard. Much closer than any of the rest of the formulas I've seen to the saponification table in this book.. I'm probably going to go with that. This book calls for .138 oz lye as 100% saponification for 1 oz lard and I think I'll go with 5% fat surplus. Gonna give it a shot and see how it turns out I guess.

    Winnie, according to all the multitudes of links I've read, and the book, wood-ash lye will only make liquid soap. I'd have to leach the lye, then cook it down to evaporate all the water out until it crystallizes to get it right for bar soap. I might try liquid soaps later on, but for now I'm gonna use the lye crystals since it's pretty cheap. I do have lots of wood ashes saved up from winter fires and won't need it all for bucking the few remaining hides so I may try some of that later if I can get it to work. Nothing wrong with liquid soaps.. seems to be the new trend anyway lol but they call it "shower gel". Ideally you want your soap to be portable so that's kinda my goal.

    .138 and .135 are close enough, I think I'm gonna go for it. 1 lb lard should take 2.16 oz lye, with a 5% discount = 2.06 oz lye per 16 oz lard.
    Should make a little over a pound of soap.
    Thanks for the links and info guys.. I'll post up some results soon.
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    I just checked those calculations with Nells links and it confirms 2.06 as a 7% fat surplus for lard or tallow. .138 should be correct and .135 is giving a 2% discount. so adding another 5% discount would make it balance out.

    Thanks everyone.. I'm much more confident now and I'm gonna try it as soon as I get a chance. probably tomorrow since it's supposed to rain.
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    Hey Bleaudog - When I was a kid, my mom made lye soap in a #10 wash tub. Once it solidified then she cut it into chunks. The tub was galvanized so maybe that's the difference in using metal. I don't know one way or the other but that's how she made it. I don't have her recipe either but I do know lye was used.

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    YCC: I'm going to ask about the lye/ lard ratio. Will get it to you as soon as I get it.


    Rick: I went back and checked my notes and they said not to use aluminum. Maybe the lye reacts with it and gives it a bad taste. Sure don't want to get that hungry.

    I was reading where lye soap used to be used for catfish bait. Yuk!
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    Cooked the mixture for 4 hours and poured into wax-paper lined checkbook boxes for molds. waiting for it to harden enough to cut into bars. Everything appeared to be working correctly with the formula posted above. I don't have a way to test the pH so I guess I'll find out soon enough if it works.. the residue left in the crock pot is soapy in water so I presume it worked and is not caustic.
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