Lye Soap Recipe

slarson

Junior Poster
The lye soap sold at the show is originally from the Lewis Lye container. We have converted it to weights from the original recipe which used volumes. I'm listing the converted recipe first, following that is the original recipe with notes by Judith Hanson.

93 oz. lard or tallow (beef or bear)
12.2 oz lye
19 to 30 oz water
Yup, that's it! Just fat, lye and water :D. Make sure you read the temperature guidelines below. If you have questions, please send me a message on the forum.

Lye Soap
Dissolve 1 can lye (the original cans were 12 ounces-Sarah) in 5 cups old water. Stir well until dissolved. If desired add 2 tablespoons ammonia and 2 tablespoons Borax to lye mixture.

Melt fat and measure 13 cups. Add lye to fat slowly, stirring all the while. It will become white and thick When it is the consistency of cake batter, it is ready to pour into a pan or form. A wooden peach crate is good. Line the form with a cloth wrung out of cold water before pouring into it, Cover or keep warm. Cut into bars and store so air can reach it, but avoid drafts. Temperature is very important in making soap. Following are some important temperature guidelines:

Fat from lard and tallow fat 100 lye 75 to 80
Fat from all tallow fat 120 lye 90
Lard and other soft fats fat 85 lye 75​
Use enamel ware or glass utensils for soap making. Use rubber gloves. Avoid breathing the lye fumes. Do your soap making in a well ventilated place. Judith Hanson
 

Jerry Christiansen

Mega Poster
WMSTR Lifetime Member
Hi Sarah,

Only three ingredients, how hard can that be? Then you mixed in the ". . . some important temperature guidelines" and things got a bit harder.

I have read how oven temperatures can be estimated by how paper turns color. How did soap makers estimate temperatures without thermometers? With experience can a person 'see' when the soap is right without knowing the temperature?

Later,
Jerry Christiansen
 

slarson

Junior Poster
Good question Jerry! Thermometers have been around for hundreds of years, but what they did before that I'm not sure.I'd guess some trial and error. If the temperatures were way too cold, they would have been able to reheat it to cause the chemical reaction. If they were a little too cold, then it just would have taken a long time to trace, but they would have soap with a lot of patience. If it were too hot, then they would have needed to start all over because the batch would have seized up (a very dramatic event) and that batch would have been thrown out. This they would have easily seen after the fact.
 

crystalaakre

Mega Poster
Moderator
WMSTR Lifetime Member
Thanks Sarah!!

I have a question, does it have to be beef or bear fat? Would pork fat work?
 

slarson

Junior Poster
Fat rendered from pork is called lard. Fat rendered from beef, bear and a few other critters is called tallow. Lard can certainly be used in soap making. We rendered and used about 200 pounds of it this year along with beef and bear fat.
 

slarson

Junior Poster
Actually the "very dramatic event" kicks out a lot of heat. What happens is within a couple of minutes the batch of soap heats up to about 150+ degrees, becomes too thick to stir and turns a dark pumpkin color. Then the soap maker cries (not really)! But you have to dump the batch :bonk:
 

M Kerkvliet

WMSTR Past President
Administrator
WMSTR Lifetime Member
So the drama is a crying soap maker? I was actually hoping for something like the model volcano's you see made on some of those science TV shows (and I think once on the Big Bang Theory)! If that had been the answer, I would have asked for a demonstration :biglaugh:

Thanks for sharing the process and the explanation Sarah. Very interesting!
 

RickW

WMSTR Lifetime Members
WMSTR Lifetime Member
Sarah,

I think I mentioned this near the show's end last year, but is there any chance I could commission a "steamer special" batch with a really stiff dose of pumice?
 

mrnewway

Mega Poster
WMSTR Lifetime Member
When I was working, I would work as a high voltage cable splicer, it used to be all lead cable then they came out with the cross linked polly that we see to day.
In the days of lead cable it was a wiping type process and the temp of the lead was important, we used a rolled up piece of brown shopping bag, poke it into the lead pot if it was too hot the paper would catch fire if at the correct temp the paper would turn a medium brown in color. It was a trained skill,glad they did away with it in power distribution, but one can still see a lot of in use on large phone lines.
 

RickW

WMSTR Lifetime Members
WMSTR Lifetime Member
I came Sunday, so I missed it... :( Will have to stop by earlier next time... And, thank you:)
 
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