The last time I made soap was as a freshman in college. I wasn’t the same person I am now, but somehow I found the chemistry 101 lesson difficult. But there is no reason to be intimidated nor think you need an advanced degree to know who to do this! My second-grader, motivated by the McKennan Park Youth Art Show and Sale, eagerly set to work for a lemon/lime funnel soap as inspired by Lovin Soap Studio. They entire process took about two hours over two days and cost almost nothing to make.
After trying several recipes, my favorite is from Lovin Soap Studio with some of my own modifications below.
Rendering Tallow- 1 Hour
I have come to love using tallow in my soap recipes as this hardens the soap, is inexpensive and otherwise is discarded by local butchers. Tallow is made from suet, hard fat of beef or mutton found around the loins and kidneys. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this fat before- but you might be tempted to KEEP it a secret. Meat lockers and butcher shops routinely discard suet due to lack demand. For about $1/pound you can purchase this, reduce waste and improve the quality of your soap. Renner Corner Meats (Renner, SD) and V&M Locker (Leota, MN) are used to my tallow requests- I promise they won’t give you a hard time for asking!
Suet is made into tallow in a process called “rendering” which involves melting and simmering, straining, and cooling the fat. Be sure to have a local butcher or meat locker grind the suet for you. This will reduce your cooking time significantly.
Place ground suet into a large pot. Do not fill more than half the pot. Add 2-4 inches of water to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 2-4 T salt to help separate impurities from the mixture.
Heat on stove to fully melt the fats. approximately 30min cooking time is needed for each #2-3 of suet. Add water as needed.
Pour mixture through a sieve or colander, straining into primary mold. The strained solids were added to my dog bowl and gobbled up!
Place filled primary mold in refrigerator overnight. as the mixture cools, the tallow will rise to the surface and solidify.
The next morning, turn mold upside down in sink. you will see a gelatin-like mass on bottom of the block. Scrape off additional discoloration and discard.
Refrigerate or freeze the tallow until ready to make your soap!
Making the Soap- 1 Hour
Coconut Oil- 8oz
Olive Oil- 16oz
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)- 4.54oz
Essential Oil- 2oz
colorants such as Food dye, activated charcoal, sea clay
Make Lye Solution
Be sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and perform this step in a well-ventilated area. Weigh out lye and water in two separate containers. Pour lye into the water while stirring slowly. Set aside.
Weigh out tallow and coconut oil and melt 30-60 seconds at a time in microwave. Add olive oil to melted oils. Add essential oils to oil blend and mix with spoon. My daughter used lemon and lime essential oils in her soap. Some of my favorite combinations include: lavender, camomile, lemongrass; bergamot and peppermint; clove and frankincense.
Once oils and lye solution are below 90 degrees F, pour lye into oils and mix until emulsified. I like an immersion blender but be sure to use protective gear when mixing.
This is where creativity comes in! Now that you have your base mixture, separate them in to 2 or more containers. Add colorants based on your preference, mix them with spoon and add them to the mold. Also consider using activated charcoal for pencil line separations, pour them in creative funnel designs, or layer with dried herbs/flowers for added texture, scent and interest.
Allow your soap to sit overnight and remove from mold the next day. Cut your soap into thick pieces. I use a bread slicer for uniform slices. Let it cure for a minimum of 4 weeks on a baking rack until using or gifting.
Having dedicated a couple hours to making these soaps, my daughter will have completed soaps ready to sell at the McKennan Park Youth Art Show and Sale! In the meantime, our family enjoys the scents of our soaps until ready to give.
Be inspired by my daughter’s success and tell us about your own creative soap project!