Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Home Made Laundry Soap

I've been a soapmaker for 10 years. While I know my 100% lard soap makes a terrific stain remover, it takes a lot of it to wash a load of clothes. My daughter sent me this link for making laundry detergent and I thought I'd try it.

I didn't have a 2 gallon pail, so I thought I'd just make a concentrate in my 1 gallon ice cream bucket and dilute it as needed. There was a note that said "Soap will be lumpy, goopy and gel-like. This is normal. Just give it a good stir before using." I didn't like that idea too much especially if I was going to pour it into a plastic jug for easy handling, so here's what I came up with.

I grated 2 of my 3 oz bars of soap because I wasn't sure how big a bar of Fels Naptha was. I put it in a stainless steel sauce pan and poured 2 cups of boiling water over it, put a lid on and let it set a couple of hours.

When I took the lid off the soap was completely melted. I added 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda and stirred. It was very thick! I put this mixture into my 1 gallon pail and poured enough very hot (near boiling) water over it to come up to the lip on the pail. Then I tried stirring it with a spoon, but it was producing a lot of foam, so I used a whisk. Yes, believe it or not stirring with a whisk didn't produce as much foam.

I let that set for an hour or so and sure enough, it began to separate. So I gently stirred it again with the whisk till it was all mixed. I continued to stir every hour or so until it was completely cooled.

The next morning I had a bucket full of soap gel. It was somewhat curdled, but there was no separation.

I wanted to be able to watch what was going on with the soap when I diluted it, so I poured one and one half cups of the concentrate into a 1 quart jar and filled the jar to the neck with near boiling water. I stirred gently until the soap was all dissolved into the water. It produced a small amount of foam, but not much.

I checked on it every hour or so. The foam dissipated, but no separation occurred. My camera batteries died before I could get a picture of the cooled soap, but it is a thin gel which can easily be poured, so no stirring before each use necessary! Now I can pour this into a plastic jug for easier handling and rest assured I don't have to stir before using.

Experiment successful! I'm a happy soapmaker.

Feb. 21 Update
I spoke too soon. The diluted gel does separate after a couple of days. :(


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