Wednesday, October 26, 2011
1) I wanted to start with what they would have used in the good ole days- FAT! A call to the butcher at Winn Dixie and Publix provided me with all the beef and pork fat I could want. Winn Dixie seems to have more to supply than Publix, but they also charged me $.50/lb for the stuff where Publix gives it for free. Not a lot of money, but seriously, they're going to promptly throw it away. Charging is just poor form in my book. I digress. We came home with large packages of fat.
2)Then I got figuring recipes. I realized that using only tallow, lard, olive oil and coconut oil really would not give me a very nice, conditioning soap, I started looking into other oils. A friend found http://www.essentialdepot.com/ and http://www.wellingtonfragrance.com/. They had the best deals we could find on bulk oils and essential oils (for scents). Essential Depot also had the best price on lye. We ordered coconut oil (virgin, but not as pure as food grade and thus a fraction of the cost), palm oil and Castor oil. Castor oil is available in small quantities in any pharmacy, but its considerably cheaper to order through a soap supplier. I've since learned the quest for palm oil is ravaging rain forests so once what I have is gone, I won't be using it again.
3) Once I figured what other oils were in my price range, I went back to figuring recipes. I learned from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Soaps about http://www.soapcalc.net/. This is a fabulous website that allows you to create your own recipe using the ingredients you want. You determine what fats and oils you want to use, the percentage of each and hit "calculate" and not only will it spit out the recipe, but it will give you a numerical factor of various soap qualities, like hardness, conditioning, or cleansing. And it gives you the desired range of each property too. Then you can tinker with your recipe to make it just as you want.
4) Then find a mold. I happened to have 2 shallow, rectangular tubs 10x9x2 (don't ask me where I got them). I had to figure out how much soap, by weight, I needed to fill that mold. Follow closely, math coming. Find the volume of the container in cubic inches, but leave room in the height. For example, I calculated 10x9x1.5= 135 cubic inches. Then multiply that number by .58. That gave me 78.3oz of soap for this mold. You need 11 ounces of oils for every 16 ounces of soap so then I took the weight of my soap times 11 divided by 16. In my case, 78.3x11/16=53.8oz of oils. I rounded that to 54 and that's what I plugged into soapcalc.net. I then got my recipe based on weights of oils, water (or goat milk or tea) and lye.
6) I did each soap one at a time. I started with the goat milk soap. I'd read it must be kept cool to prevent darkening. Darkening doesn't hurt the soap, just makes it not as pretty. That's why you start with frozen milk. Adding lye to a liquid (never liquid to the lye), causes an exothermic reaction... meaning it gets hot. I melted the milk merely by slowly sprinkling the lye on it. And please wear gloves and goggles and do it in a ventilated area. I mixed it on the stove with the exhaust fan going and all the kids firmly instructed to not come near me. Once the lye is dissolved, add in the oils. Weigh out everything prior to mixing anything. Also have your mold greased and ready to roll. Once things are moving, they're moving and you really can't stop. Its not necessary for all the oils to be in liquid form. The heat from the lye solution will soften things. Also, please invest in a stick blender. Apparently you can make soap without one but you must take great pains on the temperatures that everything is at or you'll be stirring the stuff for 5 hours or more. A stick blender will ease the troubles considerably. So I poured in my fats and oils, taking care to not splash as the lye solution will burn. Its suggested to have a spray bottle of white vinegar handy if spills do happen. The acid in the vinegar will neutralize the caustic nature of the lye. Then start blending with the stick blender. When the mixture starts to "trace", its time to add scents, dyes and pour into the mold. Tracing is when its thick enough that if you dribble some from the blender (when the blender is NOT on) onto the rest of the mixture, you can see where it dribbled. It doesn't quickly mix into the bulk of the solution. And on a side note, please use a stainless steel spoon. Or at least not wood. A nice wooden spoon is really unpleasant looking (and toxic?) now that its been stirring lye. Learn from my mistakes.
1/4 Cup coconut oil
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
30 drops tea tree oil
This is my own concoction, but it involves the same ingredients others posted on the web do. And as for today, after a full afternoon (albeit a coolish afternoon and I wasn't doing much manual labor), Husbandman said he could only smell me in 1 pit. I suspect if I'm able to keep this up without offending people, even that will decrease as toxins are actually allowed to escape from my body. Pictured is homemade deodorant, homemade toothpaste (equal parts sea salt, baking soda and xylitol) sitting atop shampoo soap and laundry soap.
So, you think you wanna try making some soap???
*ps- those jars of dark red liquid pictured in the fat grinding picture... just beet and carrot juices we were drinking. Absolutely nothing to do with animal fats or soap in any way.
After loosing all but 1 drake (male duck) to some odd leg problem (possibly caused by a show of force of the dominant drake), we were down to 4 hens and the 1 drake. We opened them up to roam the pasture, but locked them up at night... a feat that got more difficult as their independence grew.
One day I was late letting them out. Lo and behold there was an egg on the floor of the pen! I then watched where they went and upon later inspection discovered the pictured nest deep into the pasture in a little hole they had created in a pile of scrub.
They didn't care. They continued to lay in the old nest, on the floor of the pen or, best of all, right in the middle of the barn.
Nothing would get them to sit on that nest either. And the eggs were just disappearing too. I presume they were getting broken and something was eating up the evidence.
So, we decided to really put Angel (the guard dog) to the test. We moved all the ducks to the bachelor pad to run free with Copper, the buck. Angel has access to 3 sides of the bachelor pad, the 4th being a shared fence with the pasture. We figured if the ducks were kept in there, its a small enough area that its unlikely a malevolent critter would first get by Angel, then Copper, then that ferocious drake (really, he's the scariest animal on the property), to harm a hen or her nest. And so far so good.
Except that one duck is still managing to squeeze through an unknown hole and lays eggs in the barn. She had a nest of 6 which then got trampled during a rainstorm when all the animals huddle in the barn. We're down to 2 intact eggs and she just quit going there. The other hens laid a nest of 9 as of 2 days ago. Then Dulci (who's supposed to be pregnant) acted like she was in heat so I put her into the bachelor pad. I guess the chasing Copper did was too much for the nest as 6 eggs were scattered and 2 were missing. Today only 3 remain intact and they are not together in a nest. And then a hen up and died. Chilly night and I went out in the morning to find her dead in a sleeping position. No idea what that's about.
All in all, we're still hopeful some semblance of instinct will kick in and these ducks will manage to reproduce. Husbandman thinks it will take until spring until they get it figured out. I'm thinking of building a little hut I can pop over whatever nest they build to protect it from undiscerning goat feet.