After having rendered the tallow, poured it through a strainer with cheese cloth, shoved it in the refrigerator for the night, and blown out all those scented candles (lit to help with the odorous process) the fat is ready to scoop out. (Did you miss all those beginning steps? Check out Finally a Good Use for Fat, Part One.)
See that brown jelly stuff? Don’t eat that. That’s the water and impurities that I have not found a use for. I throw it very far away from the house. I did have a bit of a brainstorm, though. I wonder if we could bait the fox trap with it? Hmmm…. Back to soap making! Weigh the rendered fat and use the fat calculator to figure out how much lye and water you need. Just plug and chug with your amount of tallow and that you are using water and sodium hydroxide (lye). Need conversions? Click here. Remember that your tallow is already salted so you’ll have nice firm bars of soap.
Gather lye, distilled water (or rain water), scales, stainless steel kettle, resin cake pans or soap moulds, glass measuring cup with a handle, two candy thermometers with kettle clips, and your tallow. Keep white vinegar around to neutralize any acid that touches your skin. Lye burns can be nasty. In the fall (once our burn ban if lifted), I’ll show you how to make your own lye from wood ash. Then we will really be in touch with our inner pioneers.
Measure out your lye and water. Now, pay attention!!! Add the lye to the water.
Did you get that? Add the lye to the water and stir. Do not inhale the fumes. As you add the lye — hold the measuring cup by the handle. The lye water gets VERY hot. VERY hot.
Place your tallow in the kettle and begin to melt it on low heat. You can also melt it in a slow cooker. This I leave up to you but I prefer the stove. Keep it on med-low heat and stir frequently with the fan on. Don’t worry, your soap will not smell like the fat. Promise. Attach thermometers to lye water measuring cup and the kettle full of tallow.
Once the lye water and the fat reach the same temperature — about 100 degrees Fahrenheit — add the lye water to the fat. Stir. Now keep stirring. I like to use a hand mixer (a yard sale find) but stick blenders are nice, too. I stir for a while and then take a break and then come back to stir some more. Some people will tell you that you must stir constantly and never leave the mixture alone. But I’m not some people. Stir at least every five-ten minutes.
Once the mixture reaches trace — a thickened state that’s sort of like cake batter — you can add scent or color. The additives must be soap-approved. MUST. I poured half of the soap into a mould without scent or color and then colored the other half for fun.
I like to use my hand mixer to create a whipped look on the soap. Let cool overnight. There’s no need to wrap it up or cover it (unless you think someone is going to try and eat it — cause it does look very inviting). So don’t worry about that. Just let it hang out until morning.
In the morning, remove them from the pans and cut them into bars. Let the bars air or age on cooling racks or use produce containers. Some people will tell you that you MUST age the soap. You don’t actually have to age the bars. They really are perfectly safe for use — no more acidic than pool water.
There. You did it. You made soap from scratch. Now what to do with that meat that was leftover? Tune in next time for panhas! Oh yes, and one lucky commenter will get a bar of this soap. Winner to be announced tomorrow. Congratulations, chocolatechic! You won yourself a bar of homemade soap. How about that for a great way to end the weekend and start the week?? Way cool dudette.