Lost Lamb Soap: a recipe for milk soap
Lost Lamb Soap is an Outlander inspired attempt to salvage something from a terrible situation. We had an ewe try to lamb, outside no less, into a winter day hovering around 10 degrees F. We might have been able to save the lamb if he hadn’t been too big to be born in the first place, but as it was, at the end of the struggle the ewe had no lamb, and udders full of milk.
The first thing you do in this situation, after you’ve stabilized the ewe, is milk. The first milk is called colostrum and is rich in fats and nutrients. Colostrum can be frozen, kept against another emergency where a lamb is born and then rejected.. or the mother dies. At least you’ll have colostrum in the freezer and can give the little one a jump start. So, I milked. And after the colostrum passed, I kept milking, putting 32 ounce containers of sheep’s milk in the freezer until it became obvious Something Must Be Done with all that milk.
There’s cheese, yogurt, and fudge (sheep’s milk fudge is so silky rich it should be a sin) but all those are perishable food products and I can’t sell them. But I can sell soap, and I’d been listening to Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross, both of which mention soft brown soap. It seemed like a plan.
It quickly became obvious that “authentic Fraser’s Ridge Soap” was not going to be a salable product, which led to additional research and the decision to make use of a nice modern lye and readily available modern materials which would definitely not have been available on Fraser’s Ridge. Sodium Hydroxide was discovered by the English chemist Sir Humphry Davy in 1811, not 1760, and tables and recipes for making soap with different fats don’t start appearing until about a decade after that.
So Lost Lamb Soap is definitely not authentic. Is it “period?” Yes, and.. no. By the time the ingredients to make this soap became widely available likely nobody but a crafter would have bothered to make soap at home. Soap manufacturers are some of the oldest American brands, William Colgate opened a soap and candle making shop in 1806 (New York City), Unilever has its roots in 1886. Soap made at home wouldn’t have used premium ingredients, it would have been made of necessity, and likely used animal fats, not vegetable.
This is a milk and olive oil based soap and the recipe yields 3 pounds, or roughly 12 bars, of a light brown soap that lathers nicely. Let’s go make some soap!