If you are making soap in a crockpot, cut this recipe by half. Always make soap outside or in a well-ventilated location, and wear eye protection.
• 4 pounds of lard
• 2 gallons of water
• 8 ounces of lye
• A wooden box or metal cake pan lined with freezer paper
DIRECTIONS: Mix water and lard together, reserving about a quart of water to mix with the lye. Heat the water until the lard melts. Pour the lye into the reserved water in a non-reactive container (a plastic pitcher works well). Mix until the lye is completely dissolved, then let the lye cool until it reaches about 100 degrees. Gently pour the lye/water mixture into your kettle or crockpot. Mix thoroughly with a wooden or plastic stirrer until the mixture turns white.
Let the mixture cook at a simmer, uncovered, and stir several times an hour. It may take anywhere from three to six hours to cook down to the proper consistency.
When the soap mixture starts sheeting off your stirrer, it is ready to go into the mold. Pour the soap into the mold and cover it so it will cool slowly. After a few days, remove it from the mold and let it harden in the air. (The finished soap will come out easily if the mold is lined with freezer paper.) Cut it into individual pieces. Enjoy!—Jill Easton
BEWARE BEFORE YOU LYE!
1. Keep children out of the area until you are done working with lye and it’s all washed up.
2. Always work with very good, as in positive, ventilation. Note: if you drop lye solution on a hot stove, it drives off the hydrogen and makes sodium peroxide. Sodium peroxide sublimes (goes to a vapor) instantly on a hot stove, and if you breathe it, as soon as it hits the moisture in your lungs it reforms as, yup, lye…in your lungs. Lye is strongly corrosive and just about instantly scars any living tissue.
3. Face protection is great! Murphy is greater. If (when) you get it in your eye as solution or crystal (or even sodium peroxide vapor), you have a split second to react. And the reaction of choice (per OSHA, MSHA etc.) is a gently pressurized flow (think spray bottle always kept in the “on” position) of common vinegar. Splashes on ordinary skin no big deal, just quickly wash it off—but in the eye there’s no coming back if you don’t move fast and decisively.— F.W. Demara
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This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Winter 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.