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SOAP(O)                  USENET Cookbook                  SOAP(O)

SOAP

     SOAP - A nice body and face soap

     This is a luxurious and gentle handmade soap. It's a lot of
     work to make, but it's also a lot of fun. It is a good use
     for huge quantities of fat left over from cooking something.

     One of the main ingredients in soap is lye (sodium hydrox-
     ide, NaOH).  Lye is extremely caustic even at room tempera-
     ture, and in this recipe it is heated.  Because of this, you
     need to exercise extreme care when you make soap.  You
     should always wear shoes (not sandals), long pants, a long-
     sleeved top, and gloves (I use rubber gloves).  Also, be
     sure to wear eye protection.  If you get lye on your skin,
     you can quickly run to the sink and wash it off with LOTS of
     cold water; if you get lye in your eyes, rinsing it off may
     involve going to the emergency room.  You should make cer-
     tain that children and pets are somewhere else and will not
     interrupt you.  There is no room for mistakes when dealing
     with lye.

INGREDIENTS (6 pounds of soap)
     9 pounds  suet (this is also called tallow or beef fat)
     1 container
               lye (see note)
     3 cups    water
     2 cups    lemon juice
     1/4 oz    volatile fragrance oil (optional; see note)
TOOLS
     You will need a large pot (metal or ceramic), at least 2
     gallons, with a lid. This is for rendering the fat.
     One long wooden spoon (at least 10 inches).  This should be
     a spoon that you can sacrifice, because the lye will eat
     away the wood.
     You will need a large ceramic or glass bowl.  This must be
     capable of holding all the water, lemon juice, and fat with
     some room to spare.  I use a ceramic tub that is about 6
     inches high and 24 inches in diameter.  FIdo not use metal,
     as it will corrode. Even stainless steel will corrode.
     Finally, you will need some glass, ceramic, and/or wooden
     molds to pour the soap into. I use glass baking dishes; two
     8 1/2x14-inch glass pans will make bars of soap that are
     about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick Again, DO NOT USE METAL CON-
     TAINERS, as they will corrode.

PROCEDURE
          (1)  Render the fat.  To do this, cut the fat into
               hand-sized pieces and place in a large pot and
               cover it.  Heat on a medium heat until all the fat
               is melted.  You should stir it occasionally.  You
               should probably plan to turn the fan on high or
               open your kitchen windows while you are doing
               this.  (Note that if you are starting with a pure
               fat, such as coconut oil or olive oil, you don't
               need to do this.  Skip to Step 4.)

          (2)  Cool the fat so that it is below the boiling point
               of water.  Add an equal volume of water to the
               fat, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover and
               let cool over night.

          (3)  Take the fat out of the pot.  I find the easiest
               way to do this is to slice the fat in half with a
               knife and then cut wedges.  You can push the first
               wedge down into the water and then lift its neigh-
               boring wedge out.  Scrape all the non-fat gunk off
               the bottom of the fat (the side of the fat that
               was at the fat-water interface).

          (4)  Measure out six pounds of rendered fat (be accu-
               rate with this measurement).  Cut the fat into
               small pieces (about the size of a tennis ball, but
               squarish, not round) and place in a bowl.

          (5)  Set up your soap-making work area.  It should be
               outside, in a very well ventilated area.  It's
               supposed to help to do it on a warmer day rather
               than a cooler day, but I've never noticed the
               difference.  Also, clear your stove top and open
               the window in the kitchen before you start making
               the soap.

               On a table, put your ceramic tub, the bowl of fat,
               the opened container of lye, a container with the
               water, and a container with the lemon juice.  If
               you will be adding scent, keep its container
               nearby.  Also place your soap mold containers
               nearby.

               Put on all your safety gear.

          (6)  Make the soap: Pour the water into the ceramic
               tub.  Very carefully pour the lye into the tub.
               This is an exothermic reaction:  it gives off
               heat, which is used to melt the fat.  It also
               gives off odors which you don't want to breathe,
               so keep your head back. Stir the lye to dissolve
               it in the water.  Then start adding the fat to the
               water/lye mixture, stirring with the long wooden
               spoon.  Add the fat a bit at a time and stir until
               it's all melted.  Then stir in the lemon juice,
               scent (if you are using it), and pour into molds.
               When the soap is firmer but not yet hard, cut into
               bars with a knife.  It should be hard in an hour
               or so; you can test it with your finger.

          (7)  Wrap in clean cotton rags and store in a cool,
               airy place for 3-6 months.

          (8)  When you clean up the pan that you made the soap
               it, be somewhat careful as there is probably still
               some unreacted lye in the pan.  The only time I've
               had a problem with this is when I've tried to
               scrape the dry soap that lines the pan off with my
               fingernail and then a few minutes later I notice
               that the skin under my fingernail is burning.  The
               easiest solution is just to wear gloves when
               you're cleaning the pan.  It probably also helps
               to wash with extremely hot water so that the
               remaining soap (and fat if there is any) melts and
               dissolves in the water.

NOTES
     In the U.S., Red Devil lye comes in 12-oz containers. In
     Europe it generally comes in 350-g containers, which is
     about 3% more. You don't want to measure lye-you want to use
     the whole container. If your container is not this size,
     then scale the recipe up or down accordingly. Leftover lye
     is a serious disposal problem.

     Where to buy 9 pounds of fat? If you're using an animal fat
     (beef or pork), you can buy it from your butcher.  What I
     find I have to do is reserve it, because they normally don't
     keep the fat after they've cut up their cow.  Sometimes they
     will charge you for the fat (I've paid anywhere from 10 to
     45 cents a pound); sometimes they won't.  I've only ever
     made soap with beef fat; this makes a hard, mild, slow-
     lathering soap. The recipe will work equally well with other
     animal fats to produce a similar result. Coconut oil yields
     a softer, quick-lathering soap.  Olive oil and other veget-
     able cooking oils yield a very soft soap that never com-
     pletely hardens. Unfortunately, these oils are sensitive to
     air and light, and soap made from cooking oils will spoil in
     a few weeks unless it is refrigerated.

     Volatile fragrance oils, also called essential oils, are
     highly concentrated scent ingredients. You can usually buy
     them at health-food stores, and you can sometimes find
     exotic fragrances at specialty food-and-spice shops.  The
     amount that you should use depends on how fragrant you want
     the soap to be. A few drops of musk oil is enough to scent
     an entire batch of soap; less-potent fragrances such as a
     fruit oil might require a teaspoon or two.  Soap scented
     with herbs is also popular; herbs like lemon thyme or
     verbena or lavender work well. To scent with herbs, make an
     herbal oil by packing a 1/2-cup container with herbs and
     then filling it with a pleasant-smelling vegetable oil such
     as almond oil. Let this mixture sit for a few weeks, stir-
     ring it every day, then heat in a double boiler for 10
     minutes, then cool and strain the oil.

     The soap works just fine with no fragrance at all, and many
     people prefer it that way. I certainly do.

     You may run into problems at the stage "Add the fat and stir
     until it's all melted."  I almost always do.  What happens
     is that the water/lye mixture runs out of heat before all
     the fat melts.  What you have to do is add heat somehow.
     The way I do this is to grab the tub (which now contains all
     the fat), go into the kitchen, put it on top of a burner,
     and turn the burner (and the fan) on high.  (Make sure the
     windows are all open too.) When all the fat is melted, I go
     back outside and continue, adding the lemon juice.

     The lemon juice lowers the pH.  The finished soap will have
     a pH of about 9; you can lower this by adding more lemon
     juice.

RATING
     Difficulty: challenging.  Time: Day 1:  30 minutes prepara-
     tion; 1-2 hours cooking.  Day 2:  usually about 1 hour.
     Precision: Be precise. Also be careful.

CONTRIBUTOR
     Aviva Garrett
     Santa Cruz, CA
     Excelan, Inc., San Jose
     ucbvax!mtxinu!excelan!aviva
     Path: decwrl!recipes
     From: hendler@harvard.harvard.edu (David Hendler)
     Newsgroups: alt.gourmand
     Subject: RECIPE: Irish soda bread
     Message-ID: 
     Date: 18 Sep 87 03:09:01 GMT
     Sender: recipes@decwrl.DEC.COM
     Distribution: alt
     Organization: Aiken Computation Lab, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass., USA
     Lines: 72
     Approved: reid@decwrl.dec.com

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