26 February 2009

Making liquid dish soap

Finally got around to making a batch of soap. It is my second batch, and I am still a bit intimidated by the lye. I was also terrified of my pressure canner the first few times I used it, especially on the wood stove!

This soap used half beef tallow, half lard, and that seems to be a popular combination of fats, for consistency. My first batch was pure lard, and it was a great laundry soap, and dish soap. I like the creamy coloring that the tallow gives this soap. Although I'm not sure it came out so great, there was a bit of separation, it seemed that the two fats did not want to dissolve at the same rate in the lye solution. I kept stirring gently for at least 20 minutes and it only ever got to a lumpy honey consistency, not well blended. And there was a little bit of separation in the mold, like some of the glycerin had separated out. But it will work just great for laundry and dishes regardless. One batch of soap (4.4 lbs fat to one bottle of lye) does us for a year or more.

There were some great soap making tutorials up on blogs in the Fall, thanks especially to Throwback at Trapper Creek. But I haven't seen anything about making dish soap, or jelly soap. Jelly soap is the consistency of a good stock, and it can be mixed with water to use in hand pumps or as a liquid dish soap. I keep all of my bits of soap, too small to use, and I added them to the crumbles left over from cutting the bars of my new batch of soap. The recipe for jelly soap is 1 lb grated soap to 1 gallon water. Boil for 10 minutes.

I water it down, half jelly soap, half water. It does foam up with a bit of agitation, and works great for dishes. Cuts grease and leaves glass sparkling! We need a little jingle playing in the background. I thought it might work great for people using homemade soap in laundry machines. I use the bars with my ol' washboard. But this liquid soap would dissolve well in cold water wash cycles.
The kids are growing fast! The have doubled their size in two weeks, and are just about able to make a vertical leap over a 4 foot gate! Good thing we are planning to tether them in the summer. They have been nibbling on hay, but are just starting to actually eat a bit of it. Penelope is consistently giving 3 Quarts of milk a day, which is great for us, and as soon as the kids are weaned, we will have extra milk to make yogurt and cheese and butter! I did try some of the goats milk in the cream separater, and it worked, so I should be able to make goat butter.


Kaylen said...

I've heard a stick blender really helps with getting fats fully combined with lye solution.

The kids are adorable!

Pampered Mom said...

Thanks for such a great post! I've always wanted to make my own soap, but have never actually set out to do it - too nervous about the lye. I had to laugh about the pressure canner comment. Two years later and I'm still nervous about my pressure canner!

Chiot's Run said...

Those little kids are so cute. AWWWWWW.

Stick blenders are great, but I've never used them for soap. I've never made soap. My great grandpa used to, I'm not sure if it's something I'll every master.

Country Girl said...

I have never thought to make soap other then hard soap and laundry detergent. I have made one batch of soap so far but I too would like to try Nita's recipe. I like the idea of saving the bits of soap, way to be resourceful. ~Kim

mandi said...

i am interested to see how making goat butter goes. please post on that when the time comes! i have been convinced that it is not possible but i knew there had to be a way.

Anonymous said...

One thing I find interesting about homemade tallow soap jelly is that it's pearlescent. My kids like to shake it and watch the "shinies" swirl around.

Mandi, I've been making goat butter for years. I don't even have a separator. I just settle my cream in the fridge in a shallow glass pan with a lid. When we got rid of our cow I wasn't willing to give up the fresh cream and butter. Now I milk Pygmies, they have a really high fat content (as high as 11%). But I bet you could do the same thing with dairy goat milk. The key is to put it into something that the milk will only be about 2-3 inches deep. Then let it set for 48 hours and you'll get a thin layer on top that is thick like frosting that you can scoop off easily.

Making butter works best when the temperature of the cream is right. For cow's cream 60-65f works best for me, but I've found that goat cream turns to butter faster at a slightly lower temp 55-60f. Goat butter is softer and creamier. It's very mild (almost bland) tasting. It makes a great pie crust.

I'd be interested in knowing if this works with dairy goat milk. I've always read that goat milk doesn't separate on it's own, but Pygmy milk is a little different than dairy goats milk. It's higher in some things lower in others, and very concentrated like sheep milk. It tastes like half and half and has a high cheese yield. I actually water down the skimmed milk for drinking. If anyone tries this with regular goat milk I'd love to hear the results.

I love your site and what you are doing. We are doing a lot of the same things just on a much smaller plot in the high desert. I tried your idea for using the meat grinder for threshing wheat this year. It saved me a lot of time. In fact the kids and husband got in on it too. Much better than me out in the milking parlor doing the twist on wheat heads LOL!

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Your lye solution and fats should be the same temperature when you combine them. Melt your fats first and then combine with lye solution, both should be around 90F at the time of combining, if you don't have a thermometer the pans would be warm to the touch.

Robbyn said...

Hi...I was looking on your site for a contact email address but didn't find one. Could you possibly email me at jargil@juno.com (my email address?) I have an idea I was wondering if you'd like to discuss :)(no, I'm not selling anything, ha)

Your site is wonderful!

Robbyn :)

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Kaylen, good tip, those little blenders are handy.

Pampered Mom, it actually took the threat of running out of my last batch of soap to motivate me to crack into that bottle of lye. But it's not so scary if you are prepared and all that good safety stuff. I am finally quite comfortable with my pressure canner, although images of exploding tops still pop into my mind at the beginning of the canning season. Saftey in the kitchen is so important! Mr. Fritillary calls it my workshop.

Chiot's, those kids get cuter every day, with round bellies and half-inch horn nubs popping out. I have never got past the basic soap recipe, but with goat's milk on the menu now, I would love to learn how to make that wonderful goat's milk soap, but it's on the long list of things to learn... so it goes.

Country Girl, those little bits of soap were the reason why I tried the jelly soap recipe, we just love resourcefulness here.

mandi, you can be sure to see a post on goat's butter, 5 or 6 weeks away...

Risa, thanks so much for the great comment. I know a woman who used to separate dairy goat's milk the same way, but she used to put a piece of wax paper on top of the pan of milk. She would then peel it back and the cream would stick to it, and she would scrape it off. Perhaps it is because of the relative low fat % compared to the Pygmies. Dairy goats have about 4-4.5% butter fat. I didn't know that the Pygmies' milk was so rich! Thanks for the tip about the temperature for churning the goat's cream.

I'm so glad the meat grinder/thresher worked out for you and your family! Although the image of doing the twist on the parlor floor would certainly keep the winter blues away! Are you baking bread with your wheat? If you have a blog going, I would love a link to it. Great to meet you Risa.

Trapper Creek, that's the step I was missing! I think the lye was just above 85F and the fat was closer to 95F, too much of a spread. According to the directions on the lye bottle, this would have been fine, but I didn't have your soap making blog downloaded at home. Next time...

Robbyn, thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Wax paper skimming. I can see how that would work great. What a smart idea!

I do use the wheat we grow for bread and a lot of other things. We bought a really nice wheat grinder about ten years ago. We lived in the city at the time, so I put a tiny patch of winter wheat in my garden, and made a loaf of "city" bread that summer. Since then we have always had a little patch of wheat. I've only been trying to grow a significant amount for the last few years.

Sorry, I don't have a blog. I'm kinda incompetent when it comes to computers. My husband is a computer guru and I'm a total moron in that department LOL! Maybe someday.