Sunday, August 7, 2016

NOT All About Soap Making

This post is going to mostly be about soap making but I do have critter stuff at the end.

The name of the post, "NOT All About Soap Making" is a reference to a sort of pet peeve of mine, which is magazine articles with titles like "All About Growing Corn (Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peas, pick your edible) or "All About Raising Pigs (Goats, Chickens, Children, pick your critter).  There is no way a single magazine story can tell All About anything, right? Anyway, this post is just a little overview of how soap is made, kind of the little description I give to folks when they ask about it at the farmer's market, only with photos.

So, basically, you combine fat and lye and you get soap.   Back in Grandma's day, the fat was lard and I use lard too, in combination with other fats like coconut oil and olive oil.  You need a liquid to dissolve the lye in and Grandma would have used water from the well.  I use goat's milk and a little water.  By the way, I do not use Grandma as a general term, I do mean my Grandma, who did make soap.  Maybe yours did too.

Anyway, here it is in pictures:

The first thing I do is weigh out the fat and oils, and melt them.
And here is the milk and some ice cubes, also carefully weighed.  The milk needs to start out as cold as possible because it heats up when the lye is added.
This is what lye looks like - it's nasty stuff so I really need to focus on safe handling.
This is the lye solution.  I have it on ice, and the cubes are melting fast.  If it heats up too much the milk will turn a bright orange!
After the lye solution is added to the oils, there is a LOT of stirring needed while the magic happens.  This stick blender really speeds things up.  Grandma would have loved it!  (Please note, gloves are recommended but I choose not to where them - and I have been burned by the lye a time or two - most unpleasant!)
Fast forward about 48 hours.  The 5 pounds of soap has cured in the mold and is ready to cut.  Check out my custom made soap cutting knife!  It was made by Matt Hurd of Hurd Family Farm.
The pigs moved back to the pasture on Tuesday evening.  They are really pretty easy to move, we just put them in a triangle of fence panels or gates and pull it with a tractor.  They just trot along to greener pastures.  The tricky part of this move was just getting them out of the coop yards where they had been hanging out for the last couple of weeks.  They were just convinced that the electric wire was still across the gate!  There was a lot of coaxing, bribing, and finally in a couple of cases, brute force was needed. 

Kevin won this wrestling match, but he had some sore muscles the next day!

Last thing, I have to show you this little fawn.  Hoover and I went past the cemetery on our run this morning and I am pretty sure it wasn't there then.   When we came back, there is was - this tiny fawn (in August?) laying by the fence.  Since Ardis and Rollie live just past the church, we dashed over to their house, rousted Rollie out to find their camera, and Hoover stayed with him while I hurried back to get a few pictures.  I don't think Hoover even knew it was there. 

There has been lots more going on around here of course - garden pumping out the beans, harvesting grain, etc., but I think this post is long enough.  Until next time, be well folks.


  1. Most awesome. Need to try your soap one day.

  2. Most awesome. Need to try your soap one day.