What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, October 12, 2012


You asked for more about the homemade peppermint soap I wrote about it in this post, and I am here to serve!  ;-)

My first ever attempt at soapmaking was, in my opinion, a smashing success.  (Such a good way to begin!)

Isn't it perdy?
I used one of the many wonderful recipes on this (amazing!)  soapmaking site.  This one using Beef Tallow, under recipes with Animal Fats, to be exact; mainly because I didn't have any of the fancy palm oils and such required by other recipes.  I didn't even  have beef tallow- I had a quart jar of sheep tallow given to me by some friends, who had rendered their own from their own sheep.  (Lovely people, they.)

I halved the recipe (because I only had a quart of tallow!) which made 12 bar sized loaves of soap and since I don't have any soap molds at this point, I used bread loaf and gift loaf pans from my kitchen and mini bread loaf pans from my childrens' PLAY kitchen- all lined with plastic wrap. You know you are in too deep when you raid your childrens' play kitchen for supplies.


I added peppermint oil to my soap until it smelled good (probably should have measured it in retrospect...she DID have a scent guide, after all.) and then I experimented with coloring.  Since I didn't have any fancy soap colorants, I just used red food coloring.  (I figured if I botched it, I just wouldn't give any away.)


I poured some pure white soap into the molds, to be sure we got a few "unmaimed" bars and then experimented with the coloring.  I added it to the bowl and stirred it and (duh!) it made it pink- not swirly.  So I poured it all into molds and to one of them, I added four food coloring drops onto the surface of the "loaf" and then swirled it with a chopstick until the coloring seemed to have reached everywhere.  (Very scientific, I know.)

The result, three different variations on a theme!  Swirly, Pinky, and Pure.


The next day, I fully admit to going over and sniffing the bars at random intervals throughout the day. 

I also fully admit to taking my soap with me on visits to show friends.  Lame, but true.

And now, to show you how SERIOUS I am about soapmaking....take a gander over at my "Putting By" list on my sidebar.  Scroll down until you see "OTHER" and what do you see?

I rendered lard.  4 gallons worth.  (I KNOW!)

I totally did.  I put armfuls of pork fat into big pots, melted them and strained them.  Let me tell you, I never thought I would be the kind of girl to render lard.  But, when the butcher shop is giving it away for free and soap-making requires LOTS, what is a girl to do?

And, in case you aren't fully shocked by now-brace yourselves.......ready?
 I fully intend to render Tallow from the beef fat given to me by the selfsame butcher shop. 

Yup,  that's me...the fat renderer.  

And PROUD of it.

And now~ a question for you soap-makers out there, if you please.

Is it normal to see a small film on the top of the soap or is that a sign that something is amiss?  If the latter, what can I do to avoid it in the future?


marriedtothefarm said...

Can you share more about rendering lard? I have some in my freezer from a pig we bought and I guess I could ask for some back from our beef. I don't know how to do it or what to use it for (you've already answered that one, obviously!). :)

Leah T. said...

Beautiful!!! You did an awesome job on this soap, Rebecca! :D I wish I could smell it trough the computer screen. Or I could walk upstairs and smell my own. But yours is prettier.

We just render a bunch of lard here last week. We'll use most of it for frying donuts and such but I might just have to use some for soap. And we'll also be getting a bunch of tallow to render here pretty soon. Maybe I wait and use that since it makes a firmer, longer lasting soap.

As to the film on the top of the soap it's nothing to be concerned about. It's called soda ash. Here is some info from the book I mentioned in my email, "soaps occasionally develop this problem, which happens when sodium carbonate is formed by the reaction of carbon dioxide in the air with lye on the surface of the newly poured soap. ... Covering your soaps immediately after pouring, so that they're not exposed to the air, helps to prevent this. If it does occur, however, it can usually be scraped away with a paring knife or wiped off with a dampened cloth."

Can't wait to see what kind you make next!

Leah T. said...

Oh, and about rendering lard/tallow, grinding it before rendering makes the job much faster and much easier! It makes a bit of a mess but you get a lot more of the fat out.

Tracy said...

Leah is right. The white film is soda ash. Totally harmless, and you can prevent it by covering the soap with plastic wrap as soon as you pour it. Here's something fun: I LOVE to use pieces of bubble wrap and lightly press it into the surface of the freshly poured soap. It makes the top look like honeycomb! It peels right off once the soap is hardened, and can be reused, too.

Also, if you want to make the sides even prettier, you can buff your soaps with old pantyhose. Try it, and see what happens!

Tracy said...

OH! Save those shavings! They look pretty in a bowl in the bathroom, and smell good, too!

Rebecca said...

Marriedtothefarm~ it is a very simple process of heating it to melting point and then straining out the junk. When I pick up the beef fat, I'll take some pictures of the process and post about it in more depth for you if that is something that would help you.

We also use lard in place of shortening or butter. Pie crusts and bicuits are AMAZING with lard- really.

Leah~ Believe it or not, the butcher actually ground it up for us which was a HUGE help! Thanks for the info. on soda ash- I am glad I didn't technically do anything wrong.

I am thinking my next batch might be the chocolate mint and a big batch of basic soap (from that book you suggested, which, btw, I borrowed from the library and LOVE) so that I can make handmilled herbal soaps like lemon verbena and lavender (I grew those this year in my herb garden for this specific purpose!)

Tracy~ what a GREAT idea for the bubble wrap- that is brilliant! Like a homemade (free!) soap stamp! And thanks for the pantyhose tip-not having a real mold, plastic wrap lines are inevitable until the time when I can get one. SO by buff you mean dry or with a bit of moisture on the hose?

I was saving the shavings for handmilled/rebatch soap (just because they were so pretty) but I never thought of keeping them in the bathroom.

Thanks for the comments ladies!

peachysudweeks said...

Now comes the hard part ... letting it cure! You are making soap at the perfect time for gifting cured soap for Christmas. I really must get back on the soap making band wagon.

Tracy said...

Dry buff! Just wad the hose up, and scrub at the sides.

Leah T. said...

How nice of the butcher to grind it for you!

I'm glad you were able to get that book from the library and that you like it. Scott wants to make some milled soaps, too. I'm so anxious to get into the new house so I can start an herb garden! I'd love to see a post on herbs; growing them, harvesting them, using them . And any book recommendations?! :)

ulli said...

Rebecca--I never tried soap making, and yours are beautiful! So proud you are fearless in the ways of good old fashioned homemaking. Keep it up!

Rosemary said...

Beautiful soap, and your first batch, too!

Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias said...

Pretty, pretty...my auntie makes soap, we love her MN summer soap, keeps the bugs away.

...they call me mommy... said...

Just love it, friend! *sniffs screen*

Renata said...

It looks lovely!! My first batch of soap was such a dismal failure that I haven't attempted it again. I am so impressed with your lard rendering~ it's something that I know I should try at some point, but I just keep hesitating. Maybe once we get the pigs butchered I'll give it a go!
Have a wonderful day

Bonnie said...

Holy. Molasses. You amaze me and I don't mean the soap! Hooray for the mail today : )

Thank-you thank-you!

Rebecca said...

Bonnie~ just in time for two months, huh?!

So glad you liked it!