Soap making is an ancient art perfected by the common joe in his effort to live a clean life. It involves the process of saponification, an alchemy of sorts combining water, oil and highly corrosive lye to make a thing that helps to wash the dirt away from even your most sensitive areas. OK not so scientific a definition but you get the drift. I have been making soap for several years now and have tried several different kinds of soap. Everything from all veggie soaps to lard based ones. In my effort to become sustainable though i have decided to try to make Bear soap. This hunting season has been kind and we saved the fat from the bear we harvested. I rendered the fat, or cooked it down and filtered it to make it useable for soap making. This was much easier to do than i thought and with the turkey fryer outside there was no smelly house to deal with after.
Though i buy my lye from the store, eventually i will construct a way to harvest lye from wood ash in the old way. Just don't ask me for details yet-I'm still filtering through you tube videos of people blackening their kitchens trying to do this.
My husband has been asking for an unscented soap to use during hunting season and my hope is that this will be the answer. Though i wonder if bear fat is really the best fat to use for deer hunting soap considering that bears are omnivorous...
What the hell, I'm running out of soap and i have all this fat, I'm giving it a go!
The smell was not so good, though i think it was the method i used to render the fat- the dry method. I have since then read an article on the dry and wet methods of rendering. The wet being easier on the fat- you add water and boil the fat then cool the whole thing skimming the fat off of the water.
Oh well, the soap looks great and smells ok. It should be ready in time for rifle season this year so we shall see how scentless it really turns out to be...
So the soap has been curing for 2 days now and though I burned out the motor on the stick blender, and the soap took several hours to set up, it is now out of the molds and on the rack. It was scary this time since usually the soap hardens within the first hour after pouring, but I think that with the extra ounce or two of water I added to prevent a super fast setup I got what I asked for. I am excited for this soap to cure since I am planning to shred some of it to make shampoo. There are so many things I still buy at the store that contain all kinds of crap that I shouldn't put on my body. So far I have tried making toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, chapstick, and soap. All but the soap and chapstick will need some tweaking before I can cease buying the store bought kinds. Consistent lessons in patience and perseverance. Keep an eye out for the recipe section coming out in the next few months. Would be nice for somebody to be able to skip a few steps...
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.