Soap, it’s basically 3 ingredients so what the heck is going on with failed batch after failed batch? Making soap from our lard is a pretty time consuming process. It goes like this:
- Breed a sow…wait 5 months for piglets
- Raise the pig to market weight…another 6 months
- Get ground lard back from the butcher…another few weeks
- Render about 20 – 30 pounds of lard…hours and I do this part multiple times
- Chill rendered lard overnight and skim off the good parts and store for later
- Make a batch of soap takes about 3-4 hours
- Let it rest for a few days
- Take it out of the mold and let it harden for at least a month. You can be done here or if you want hand milled soap you have to grate, melt and reset the soap all over again and let it harden at least another month
Obviously to just get to step 6 – the basic soap making – you’ve invested a lot of time. And it was at this point that my soap was failing!
I had started off so well. Bought lye and made about 3 batches of soap successfully and easily. I was feeling pretty cocky. I ordered more lye and have since failed through about 4 batches of soap.
Since I’m only using 3 ingredients what the heck?! I’ve checked and re-checked my measuring, temperatures, stirring time… EVERYTHING! And it is always the same, the soap doesn’t set up. It doesn’t get any firmer then play dough.
I looked at my freezer full of lard in despair. I just don’t have the heart to render it. I went through my mental check list one more time. It was all good, I re-ordered lye….hmmm, the second batch of lye looked different then the first. The first batch was sand like and the second batch flakes. Scurry to the internet, read around, go to numerous websites that sell lye.
And then I find IT!!!!
There are two types of lye: one to make liquid soap (Potassium Hydroxide) and one to make bar soap (Sodium Hydroxide). You guessed it. When I reordered lye I bought the WRONG one.
Glad that mystery is solved and I can go back to happily making good bar soap