“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My 'Thrifty Garden/Home' has been hard at work ... just haven't had time to do much posting though. Friday found hubby and myself sale-ing at the local rummage and garage sales. I had a great score and scooped up a box of soap-making supplies including this book. For the past four months, I've been dabbling in the soap making business: Laundry (liquid & powder), shampoo, bath soap, liquid hand soap, etc. With this newest book, I can turn basic cold pressed soap into milled specialty soaps. You know, those bars that cost a fortune at the spa shops. I haven't purchased laundry, bath soap, nor shampoo since last year. OK, let's come clean; it's a fun and rewarding scientific experiment/hobby that gives you a luxurious product made by your own two hands.


Felisol said...

Dear Mrs. Mac,
Being the eternal wonderer I just have to ask.
Is it Olive oil soap you use for basic?
We have a basic soap, green soap, which is actually green.
I wonder if that can be used?
I remember back in the early seventies we used boiled green soap for healing decubitus with great results.
I also use it to draw out thorns from my garden fingers.
(Soft lump of green soap under a band aid.)
Surprisingly efficient.
Have a wonderful gardening day!
From felisol

Mrs. Mac said...

Hi Felisol,

I make a basic soap made mainly from olive oil & coconut oil. The recipe and directions are in the lower right side bar under 'how to make cold pressed soap ... recipe & lesson over at Down to Earth blog'.

I vaguely remember green soap from my youth. For my liquid hand soap I simply 'grate and melt a small bar of my soap with a small amount of water in a sauce pan ... adding tea tree oil & a bit of rosemary essential oil and put in a small pump bottle. The homemade soaps do not have the naturally occurring glycerin removed and are very good for your skin. My garden/summer abused hands heal quite nicely from using this soap constantly throughout the day.

For a special gardener's hand soap I soften up one of my bars of soap in the microwave and add ground up dry oatmeal, a little finely ground egg shells (ground in my extra coffee mill), tea tree and rosemary essential oil. reshape in a mold, freehand into a heart, or inside a thick cookie cutter ... let harden again for a few days. (the eggshell acts as a natural scrubbing agent)

Pat said...

I've always toyed with wanting to make my own soap...now I'm really thinking hard about it. That book you picked up looks like a gem, don't you love a great find like that?

Felisol said...

Dear Mrs. Mac,
I have followed the link to this Australian soap maker.
Interesting indeed.
What I now wonder is; do I have to use all the three different oils in one mixture (olive, coconut and..one more).
Do you heat the oils in a water-bath to get the same temperature as the lye/water mix?
Oh, you see , I am not a brave soap cook. Have to know all the details on beforehand.
From Felisol

Mrs. Mac said...


It took me months and months to get up the nerve to make soap with lye in it. I studied the procedure over and over. It took me a while to use the soap calculator. Once you have the calculator figured out, you can choose from different oils ... then you can see if your soap will have good qualities (moisturizer, creaminess, lather, gentleness, etc.) I switch up the oils sometimes. My biggest setback has always been picking a time when I didn't have small kids in the house (to interrupt). Once you start making the soap, you need good concentration. But, once fears were conquered, and time was found, it was well worth the end result. No ... you just heat the oil in a large enamelware or stainless steel pot (large size) ... and never use any aluminum as the lye will ruin it. I started off making liquid and powdered laundry soap. No lye involved and easy to make.

Felisol said...

Dear Mrs. Mac,
I have respect for lye,but I have seen my mother work with it.
She used caustic soda to open the kitchen sink several times in the fifties.
She once told me they made lye from pot ash during the war.
I guess I shall have to ask her more about that tomorrow.
She never made soap bars though.
Olive oil wasn't sold in Norway until the seventies.

What I wonder about the oils is
if some for instance coconut oil has to be a part of the bar because it easier hardens.
Olive oil, which I love, perhaps will not be enough to make the soap bar stiffen?

You see, one answer only make place for even more questions.

Thank you for being patient and answer.
Thank you for being patient with me.
From Felisol

Maggie Ann said...

I've been wondering how your soap making has been coming along. I too have been tempted to try soap making over the years but get put off by the lye part. I love handmade soaps and have bought them from time to time. some have been perfect..some too soft. Some crack wickedly..grin. Hope yours turns out just right. Maybe someday I'll try it. Especially if the economy continues downward. Just think, (I think to myself) we could have a 9 by 13" pan of soap...maybe for the cost of a bar or two. I love the lye soap they sell at fairs. Kind of pricey though.

Connie said...

Good for you on your soap-making endeavors! It is something I've always wanted to try, but at this stage of life I doubt I will ever get to it. I do love to pick up a nice handcrafted, wonderfully scented bar now and then

Mrs. Mac said...

Dear Felisol,

I have been thinking about all of your questions regarding the oils for soap making. It is a bit overwhelming to think about all of the possibilities. I made my soap recipe very similar to the Australian ladies ... using mostly olive oil, coconut oil, and shortening. She had another oil that I couldn't find. The main thing is to try out the soap calculator. It took me a while to figure it out. And many months of getting up the nerve, finding the right day (without children at home) etc. etc. Her detailed pictures and methods are very good. Make sure to use the safety gear (goggles, mask, gloves) as a precaution. The calculator has a section that will tell you the qualities of the soap you will make from the types of oil used. Do I need to come over to Norway and hold your hand ;) ... be a brave sister and study ... study ... then just try it. I won't go back to using store bought soap. Mr. Mac's hands once were so dry and ashy looking ... since using the soap, his hands have improved 100%. Let me know if you get the gumption to make the soap.