In the post Make Your Own Wood Ash Lye Soap we talked about making soap the really, really old fashioned way. The soap in this post is not quite that old fashioned, but is a homestead soap made from rendered fat (lard) from our pigs we recently slaughtered and goats milk from our does. Instead of using lye made from wood ashes, we used granulated lye that we have on hand. Since we have one foot in the prepper camp (ok, maybe two) we stockpile things that store well that we know we will use. Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) or lye, is one of them. Ordering it from Amazon is expensive, but you can sometimes find it in hardware stores or order it directly from the manufacturer in bulk. We use Essential Depot and if you catch them when they are running a sale, you can get it for a fraction of Amazon’s price, and often with free shipping depending on your quantity. We like both angles of this soap; that it is something we can make with products we produce but also like the relative ease and predictability of standardized commercial lye crystals.
These bars won’t earn any acclaim for their exceptional lather or eye catching swirl patterns but are meant to be strictly functional for homesteaders or preppers aiming to cut down on goods obtained from outside sources and waste none of their available resources.
Soap made with just lard scores very poorly on the lather scale and tends to be a bit on the brittle side. To offset this, we used goats milk instead of water and added honey to temper the hardness and add a bit more lather. You can also use a couple of egg yolks (no whites) to increase lather. To help with the smell of plain lard soap, I added a palmful of fresh Thyme leaves from our garden. The resulting fragrance was extremely subtle, but enough.
This recipe works for either cold process or hot process soap but is written out for making it with hot process. We prefer hot process because it is ready to use as soon as you pour it out of the crockpot and the making process is a lot more forgiving if the temperature isn’t quite right, your trace wasn’t reached, etc. If you have not made hot process soap before, check out this tutorial before you get started. If you are rendering your own lard and need help, see the post, Rendering Animal Fat.
Remember to always add your lye to your liquid, never liquid to the lye, then add the mixture to your oils.
Homestead Lard Soap – 2 lbs. – approx. 10 bars
907 grams lard
345 grams frozen goats milk
122 grams granulated lye
2 teaspoons dried Thyme leaves or generous palmful of fresh
3 Tablespoons raw Honey
Measure out lard into crockpot set on “High”.
While lard is melting, put frozen milk in a glass bowl and slowly sprinkle in lye, stirring continuously until all lye is mixed in and the block of milk has melted.
When lard is melted, or almost melted, carefully pour in milk and lye mixture and begin blending with a stick blender. For hot process soap, blend to firm trace. Firm trace will have the consistency of pudding and can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes depending on your blender and the temperature of your oil mixture.
Once you have reached trace, stir in the Thyme leaves and Honey. Adding honey will turn the soap a deep amber color. This is normal and will fade back to a milky tan once cooled.
Cook on High for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, stir well, turn temperature down to “Low” and cook an additional 25 minutes. After the second 25 minutes, stir again and then pour into a shallow mold. *if you want to add essential oil or another type of fragrance other than the Thyme leaves, add it at the end of the second 25 minutes immediately before pouring into shallow mold. I always recommend a shallow mold for hot process soap so that it doesn’t “cup”. When it “cups”, the sides will be higher and the middle will the lower, and when you cut the bars, they come out with a weird C shaped top. Too much depth in the mold causes the middle to stay hot longer and the sides to rise as they cool at a different rate. I use a simple 12″ x 8″ x 2″wooden box lined with parchment paper. That gives me 10 bars that are approximately 2.25″ x 3.5″ x 1″ in size. The important part is that it is shallow so that the soap spreads out thin. You can use large shoe box lids, home built boxes, baking dishes, etc.
When soap has cooled enough to be firm but is not cold, turn the soap out and cut into bars. It’s still ok to cut the soap if it has cooled all the way, it’s just more difficult and will be more prone to chip off along the cut edge.
The soap will be ready to use as soon as it cools, but if you let it dry out for several days before using it, the bars will last longer.