DIY Homemade Soap Recipe: The Modern Homesteader Bar with goat milk and tallow.

Soap making: A brief explanation:
Soap is simply the combination of lye and oils.  When you combine them, they produce a chemical reaction called saponification and the end result is soap.  You cannot make soap without lye.  ALL soaps are made with lye, or they aren’t soap, they are a detergent.  You can buy melt and pour soap kits, but all that means is that the saponification part has been done for  you already, and you are simply remelting the soap and adding other ingredients.  From Zest, and Ivory, to Dr Bronners and any local soap, all have been started with lye.  Soap must be left to rest, or saponify, for 3-4 weeks before you can use it.  If you use it too soon the lye might not have completely chemically changed, and you could potentially burn yourself still.

This particular soap I have called the Modern Homesteader soap.  I love the challenge of using ingredients I can produce myself, with ingredients homesteaders in my area would have had access to 100 or more years ago. The tallow (beef fat) which I rendered myself from grass-fed beef, and the goat milk from my own goat, satisfy this “homesteader” urge I have.  The coconut oil and olive oil in the recipe are available now to “modern homesteaders” because we have the privilege of transporting these products to where we live so we can benefit from them too.  Old time homesteaders in my area wouldn’t have had access to these ingredients, so this is the modern part.  Olive and coconut oil are both fantastic ingredients in a soap, making a nice, hard soap with a great lather.

Before you start making soap, make sure you read through the recipe and the notes.  Have all your material on hand and your safety precautions in place.  If you are totally new to soap making, you might want to use water instead of goat milk since goat milk can be a bit tricky to use at first.  But, if you are like me, my second time making soap I was using goat milk.

Materials:

Scale
Stick blender
Soap mold (even a shoe box)
Plastic garbage bag
Old towels or blankets
Rubber gloves
Safety goggles
White distilled vinegar, in case of lye burns
Long sleeved shirt
2 thermometers
1 large bowl, 1 large pot
Spatula
Stainless steel whisk
Spoon
Several smaller bowls for measuring ingredients into

Ingredients:

44 oz. tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
11.7 oz. lye
27 oz. goat milk, partially frozen in ice cube-sized chunks (or water, if preferred)
1 oz. essential oil

Directions:

  1. Have all tools and materials ready and available ahead of time.
  2. Prepare your soap mold.  You can use an old shoe box or a fancy soap mold, whichever you like.  If using a simple wooden mold or box, line it with a plastic bag, trying to keep as smooth as possible.  You will be pouring your liquid into this so you don’t want it to leak.  Keep your stack of old towels or blankets for wrapping it in, nearby.
  3. Wear your gloves, safety glasses and long sleeved shirt!
  4. Measure, melt and combine tallow, olive and coconut oil.  Set aside.
  5. Combine lye with goat milk.  When adding lye to goat milk, do so VERY slowly, stirring VERY thoroughly to prevent scorching the milk.  If it starts to turn even the slightest bit orange,  back off with the lye, and put the bowl in a separate bowl of ice cubes to slow down the heating.  The milk will melt.  The key to adding milk to soap is to do it very slowly.
  6. Measure the temperatures of both bowls.  When both are between 110F and 115F, combine the lye mixture with the oil mixture.
  7. Using a stick blender, blend, in a figure 8 pattern, making sure you are blending all of the combination.  Continue to do this until the soap reaches trace. (Trace is when you lift up the blender and a drip sits on top of the mixture slightly, like pudding).
  8. Add and mix in essential oil.
  9. Immediately pour into prepared soap mold.
  10. Cover mold completely with a board, or you can lie plastic wrap or a garbage bag carefully across the top of the soap.
  11. Wrap well with old blankets or towels to prevent from cooling too fast.
  12. Store in a warm location (room temperature, no drafts) for 24 hours.
  13. After 24 hours are up, using gloves, remove from soap mold and cut into pieces.
  14. Place pieces on an old towel, with air being able to circulate between each piece.
  15. Let sit for 4 weeks, turning soap once a week.
  16. If a haze appears on your soap you can simply scrape it off after 4 weeks, or just leave it.

Enjoy!

Tips:

  1. Lye is caustic.  It is a powder, and is activated when any moisture touches it.  It gets very hot, very quickly.  Use rubber gloves, long sleeved shirt and safety glasses to prevent burns.  If you do get burnt, pour plain white distilled vinegar directly onto the burn.
  2. You want to combine your lye mixture with your oil mixture when they are both about the same temperature.  Sometimes you will have to reheat either the lye or the oils to ensure they are at the same temperature.  That’s ok!  To reheat the lye mixture, place the bowl in a bowl of hot water.  To reheat the oil mixture, put it back on the stove and reheat.
  3. When dealing with goats milk (or any milk) you don’t want to scorch your milk.  This can happen very quickly since the lye will heat up very fast.  Freeze the milk in ice cube trays, for easy measurement and a more even melting.  Allow the milk to partially thaw, being slushy when you need it.  If, when  you are mixing your milk and lye, it starts to turn orange, stop, place the bowl of milk in a bowl of ice cubes, and try again.  Add the lye VERY slowly to prevent scorching.  If your mixture is a bit orange, that’s ok… it will turn brown when it saponifies.
  4. You can replace the milk content with plain, distilled water if you prefer.
  5. If you don’t want to use tallow, don’t use this recipe!  It isn’t recommended to change amounts and types of oils in a recipe since each oil has a different way of reacting to the lye.  I will be posting other recipes that don’t use tallow shortly.
  6. This recipe is a large one, and will produce about 7 lb. of soap.
  7. What types of oils to select?  Any grade of olive oil will work.  The more virgin it is, the lighter the soap will be in color.  Pomace grade (the cheapest kind) seems to come to trace a little bit faster but may contribute to a darker, slightly greener color.  For the coconut oil, I use an RBD grade (refined) coconut oil.
  8. Where to buy your ingredients?  Mountain Rose Herbs has a lot of high quality, organic soap making ingredients.  I have linked to them in the ingredient list above.  Lye cannot be mailed since it is caustic so you will need to find a local supplier.  I have a soap making supplier who is local and I pick up the lye at her store.  The oils can often be bought at grocery stores.
  9. Soap-making isn’t scary. It isn’t hard. And it is lots of fun to do with a friend. These bars turned out to be about $1.30 each which is MUCH cheaper than buying quality, homemade soap from a store.

This post has been shared on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #17, 75th Wildcrafting Wednesday, From the Farm #34Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #75 and Homestead Abundance #9

Go Greener: Clean Your House With Just Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemons.

Going green can be a very expensive transition, or it can be cheaper than you’ve ever thought possible.  Green doesn’t have to mean buying all the “eco-friendly” products that are available for twice the price as the nasty stuff.  In fact, a lot of those “eco-friendly” products, when you read the labels and figure out what is actually in those products, are not very natural at all.  They may not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach etc., but they contain a lot of other ingredients that are not so great.  Especially when you can get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, when your little helper wants to help you clean, you can comfortably and safely hand her a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag.

So lets go greener than green-cleaning products.  Lets make our own out of simple, economical ingredients.

I clean my entire house with a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar water, with plain vinegar and with baking soda.

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for 2 weeks in white distilled vinegar. You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar.  Vinegar diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle is perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Baking soda.  Baking soda is perfect for lifting grease, soap scum and grime.  Baking soda is also a great deodorizer.

Lemons.  Lemons can be used to clean a lot of surfaces. The acidity naturally kills germs and the fresh smell of lemons is pleasant.

Baking soda and vinegar.  When you add baking soda, a base, to vinegar, an acid, you neutralize the two of them and basically render both useless.  I have read a lot of articles talking about combining the two to clean toilets etc.  While the volcano-like explosion is pretty cool, in most cases it doesn’t actually achieve much since you have effectively created a neutral product.

How to Clean Your Kitchen:

Counter tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cuts grease and kills germs.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a clean rag.
Kitchen sinks: Lemon-infused vinegar spray works well, or if it is extra dirtly, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub clean with a scrub brush.  Alternatively, you can use a lemon that has been juiced, to scrub your sink with.  Rinse clean.
Stove tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray will cut the grease.  To help with burnt bits, make a baking soda paste with a bit of water, smear on, let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
Floor: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will make laminate, tile and linoleum sparkle, leaving no build-up.
Fridge: Spray down with lemon-infused citrus spray, then wipe clean.  Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb food odors.  Replace the box every few months.
Microwave: Heat up a small bowl of 1 cup vinegar for about 4 minutes.  The vinegar and steam loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe clean with a rag.  You can also use lemon juice the same way, with the same results.
Stove fan filters: Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Add 1/4 c. baking soda and mix well.  Soak fan filters in it for 1 minute, then turn over, soak for 1 more minute, then remove and rinse.
Dishwasher: Add white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent buildup on your dishes.
Cutting boards:  Clean stains and germs off of your cutting board by squeezing a lemon on the board and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.  Scrub clean.

How To Clean Your Bathroom:

Bath tub and shower stall: Scrub bathtub with a baking soda paste and a scrub brush.  The baking soda cuts soap scum and grease off the tub and walls beautifully.  Rinse clean.
Toilet: Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and scrub clean with toilet brush.  Clean toilet seat, lid, and around base of toilet with lemon-infused vinegar spray.  Wipe dry.
Sink: Scrub sink clean with a baking soda paste and and a scrub brush.  Clean chrome or stainless steel with lemon-infused vinegar spray.
Mirrors: Plain white vinegar in a spray bottle, diluted 1:1 with water does the best job of cleaning mirrors.
Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will keep bathroom floors clean and sparkly.

Cleaning Other Areas:

Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will clean all floor surfaces beautifully.
Walls: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cleans walls beautifully.
Windows: Plain vinegar in a spray bottle diluted 1:1 with water.
Dusting: Spray your duster very lightly with lemon-infused vinegar to replace products like Pledge.
Carpets: to deodorize a carpet, sprinkle generously with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum up.
Mattresses: To deodorize urine or vomit stains sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum.  For fresh, wet stains, scrub with white vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Test fabric first.
Laundry: lemon juice, placed directly on grease stains on fabric, and left to sit for 30 minutes, can lift the stain.  Vinegar, poured directly on tomato-based fabric stains, can remove the stain.  Test your fabric first.
Tile grout: Lemon juice and an old tooth brush will bleach tile grout clean.
Drains: One case in which baking soda and vinegar combined can work is with a clogged drain.  Since the physical “explosion” can actually move things around, you can unclog a drain with it.  Pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.  Add a cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug with a rag and leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse down the concoction with boiling water and you may have success if the conditions are right.

So forget the bottles of fancy green cleaners.  Ignore the eco-friendly advertising.  Save  your money, save your family’s health, and go greener!  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar and lemons.  So easy, so cheap and so effective!  Please share any other cleaning methods you might know using baking soda, vinegar and lemons!

You might also enjoy reading about my homemade dish-washing detergent, my homemade laundry detergent, my DIY deodorant recipe and how my entire family’s hair is safely and perfectly cleaned with baking soda (wash) and vinegar (rinse).  All of these recipes use some of the above ingredients as well as a few others.

 

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #64Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #16 , Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Get Real Frugal Friday Blog Hop #5 and Homestead Abundance #8.