Lost Lamb Soap: a recipe for milk soap

August 3, 2013 in Living history, Soap, Scent, Toners and Tonics, Uncategorized by M C

Lost Lamb Soap

It would be nice to have unlimited resources but frankly, I don’t.  It was with some dismay that I discovered that while the ingredients to make soap are cheap (shockingly cheap) the equipment can add up fast.  Especially if you’re only planning on doing this once, not making a career out of it.  I finally narrowed the equipment list down to two items I definitely did not have:

A scale.  I ordered the cheapest kitchen sale on Amazon, which fortunately had a decent set of customer approval ratings.  Modern soap making ingredients are measured by weight, not volume, and while I was able to find one or two recipes measuring by volume instead of weight universally ingredients were measured by weight, and all the calculators use weight measures.  And now I have a postal scale for small packages, so the scale won’t go to waste.

And a stick blender.  I was hesitant to add a stick blender to my kitchen inventory.  I rarely use the few kitchen appliances I already own but this turned out to be a good purchase.  The “one batch of soap” experiment turned into at least 4 batches (about 12 pounds) of Lost Lamb Soap alone, plus a couple pounds of Fraser’s Ridge Wood Ash Lye Soap, and a batch of Potash and Quicklime soap from 1789.  So while I’ve yet to use this for a cream soup or a gravy, it has come in quite handy and was worth the investment.

Lastly.. to round out the Amazon order, I bought a container of lye.  This is not the most inexpensive way to buy lye, but when I asked my local Ace Hardware store for a bottle of lye they looked at me like I’d sprouted the horns of the devil on Red Devil Lye.  Various soap making forums mentioned Amazon as a source for lye, so I went with it.  I’ve since discovered my local True Value does keep Red Devil Lye on hand, specifically for soap makers.  Who knew?

I needed several more pieces of gear to make soap: a crock pot, some containers for measuring the fats and lye on the scale, a thermometer and a soap mold. I have an old fashioned round crock pot with a ceramic liner I pressed into service, a floating dairy thermometer I use for everything from yogurt making to candy, and a collection of old 32 ounce yogurt containers rounded out the supplies I needed to make soap. The mold, however, looked like it had the potential to be an expensive challenge.

Commercial soap molds are made out of wood, or plastic, or silicone, and they cost accordingly. They also, I’m sure, make lovely, uniform, bars of soap. But the whole point of this experiment was to turn out a useful product, not necessarily a pretty one, on a budget.  $95 for a mold is not “on a budget.”  So i made a mold out of two used US Postal Service priority mail boxes.  By cutting the second box in half, and fitting it into the first, I made a “mold” half the width of the first box, the perfect size for a three pound batch of soap.  I lined the box with freezer paper by taking a large piece and folding it around the left over flap, to form a liner from a single sheet that fitted snugly without a seam for the liquid soap to seep through.  The box worked marvelously well through four batches of soap and is still going strong.  When the soap has hardened sufficiently to be taken out I flip the box over, tug on the liner, and the whole thing, soap, liner, and all, comes out.  The liner can’t be reused, and frankly, the fussiest part of the project is making the liners and taping them in place.

Soap3

Now I needed fats.  A soap maker’s forum mentioned purchasing coconut oil at Costco, and Costco also sells huge quantities of olive oil, twice the volume for the price you’d pay for a lower quality product at the local grocery store.  I know this about the olive oil because at least three years ago I bought one of these double containers.  And I still have them.  One of them unopened and the other about 1/3 full.  Apparently we don’t use as much olive oil as I thought we did.  But the oil made a fine soap and I now have two new jugs of olive oil.  Which, three years from now, I can make soap out of.  But it turns out Costco is the cheapest place to get coconut oil, beating out any online bulk supply firm handily.

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