Why would I bother to make my own soap when it's fairly cheap to buy? Self satisfaction? Yeah, there is the whole "Hey! Look what I did! I made that!" thing. But that's not the only reason. Homemade soap is excellent on so many levels. The satisfaction of making your own soap is one.
The luxury and benefits of homemade soap is far better for your skin than commercial soaps. Homemade soap is loaded with natural glycerin. Glycerin is removed from commercial soaps and sold separately at a premium for its outstanding moisturizing properties. Not only is homemade soap excellent for your skin but it cleans well, too. And, with the omission of scents it's great for anyone with allergies.
You make soap out of pretty much any kind of fat or oil. I make bacon fairly often for breakfast and it's pretty much a waste to throw away the by-product when it can be so useful. I pour the fat off into a container until I have enough to make a batch of soap. The recipe that follows uses one quart of bacon fat.
You can also use just about any liquid whether it be beer, tea, water, coffee. Whatever strikes your fancy.
To answer the big question . . . soap made from bacon fat or beer does NOT smell like bacon or beer. All the baconny / beerific smell is neutralized during the saponification process.
So, let's make some soap.
Beer Bacon Soap
16 Ounces Bacon Fat
2.3 Ounces Lye
7 Ounces Ice Cold or Part Frozen Flat Beer
1 -2 Ounces Essential Oils (optional)
Remember that when you’re making your own soap that you should have a dedicated set of equipment set aside just for this process.
This recipe is for a cold process soap. The basic tools required are:
A Large Pot . . . Enamel or cast iron do very well for this. No aluminum or galvanized!
A Large Wooden or Plastic Spoon
A Hand Mixer (Optional)
A Large Baking Pan or Shallow Cardboard Box
Rubber Gloves / Eye Protection
Note that Lye is extremely corrosive and will cause severe burns on contact. So make sure to wear gloves and eye protection!
Put the ice cold FLAT beer 1 to 2 quart container. Glass or plastic works best.
Using the stirring spoon (known to soap makers as the "crutch"), pour lye slowly into the beer, stirring until the lye is all dissolved. Remember that lye is very caustic and will burn your skin and eyes! Any splatters must be washed off immediately with lots of water!
Cover the solution to keep out air and allow to cool (or warm up) to about 85 degrees F. No need to apply heat – heat will be chemically produced when the lye comes in contact with the liquid.
Melt the fat in the 4-6 quart bowl or pot. Don't use aluminum or galvanized bowls! When the fat is melted, cool it down to 95 degrees F. Prepare the box with a plastic trash bag lining, so the fresh liquid soap can't leak out. Note that I am using a shotgun shell four-pack box. This is the perfect size for this recipe to create a nice thickness for the soap. You can also use soap molds or any other suitable container.
When all is ready, begin to stir the liquid fat in a circular direction while pouring the lye water into it in a thin steam (pencil size or thinner) until it is all added. Crutch (stir) the mix vigorously, using “S” pattern or use a hand blender alternating with a circular pattern until the mix begins to cool and thicken. At this point do NOT stop or the mix may separate!
First the soap will be murky, then creamy, then like heavy cream and finally, like hot cooked pudding and will show traces when you dribble a stream from the crutch onto the surface. This process can take from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature, weather and purity of your ingredients. Stir vigorously but patiently! With hand blender stir time is cut to 1/10 of the regular time.
I've found that using my old Kitchen-aid Classic is the perfect tool for stirring my batches of soap. Although I am constantly monitoring the mixing process, the stand mixer lets me be a little more hands off and I can be doing other things around the kitchen while the soap is mixing and cooling.
When your "trace" does not sink back into the surface, add an ounce or two of whatever essential oils you may want for aroma.
The soap is now ready to pour into the lined box or mold. Wear rubber gloves and treat the raw soap like you treated the lye water. Wash off all splatters immediately. Have 10% vinegar and water and a sponge to neutralize splatters.
After 3-5 hours the soap may be cut into bars with a table knife, NOT a sharp knife. Allow the soap to cure in the box for about a week before breaking it up and handling it, and another month before using it.
I can make customized special order soaps on request. Great for gifts or as a treat for yourself. Send me an email for further details.