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I'll start the "soap and cleaning" section with some of the tips and comments offered up by several homesteaders on how to make and mold your own soap. At the end of the various "discussions" are some websites and mailing lists dedicated to soap-making for further reading and learning.

First up, here's instructions on soap "recycling," for lack of a more precise term...

Saw your posting about soap on homesteading, so thought I would forward this to you.

Save all your bits and pieces of soap(you know) the leftovers as the bar is used.

Grate(I use a second hand spice grinder) soap before using:

Makes one bar. It is a great gardener's soap! Other herbs or aloe vera etc can be added, just keep the soap a soft consistency so it will cure nicely.

Have a sunny weekend.

Once you are ready to move on to making your own soaps, the next two recipies take you (mostly) from scratch...


This is the soap I use all the time. It does not make a lot of suds, which is nice if you use a wringer washer. It does get our clothes clean and is a fraction of the cost of regular soap.


1/3 bar fels naptha laundry soap (63 cents a bar here)
1/2 Cup Soap flakes (I use arm and hammer)
1/2 Cup Borax

Grate the 1/3 bar of fels naptha soap. Put it in a pan with about 2 pints of water. Heat until the soap dissolves. Stir in the soap flakes and borax, mix until it is about the consistency of honey. Remove from heat. Then in an ordinary size household bucket run about 1 quart of hot water. Add the soap mixture to this. Top off the bucket with cold water. Stir until well blended. Then set aside for 24 hours. The weather and household temperature affect this soap. Sometimes it is thick. Sometimes not. I use about a cup per load of laundry. I use it on knits, jeans, all of our household laundry. I don't plan to purchase commercial detergent again. There is a bit of an initial investment in this, but the soap flakes and borax last a long time only using 1/2 cup at a time. Hope this helps stretch your dollars a bit.

Jan Knickerbocker
Harvest Moon Farm

Hand and Body

There have been a lot of requests for this recipe so here it is.

This only makes 5 or 6 bars but it smells great!

1 cup lard or crisco melted
1 cup coconut oil melted
1 cup goats milk-you can use canned
1/4 cup Red Devil lye
1/4 cup water
2tbsp. eo (veviter)
2tbsp. castor oil

Dissolve lye in water. Melt oil. Both should be at about 110 to 120 degrees at time of mixing. Add the lye water to the fat and stir in the milk. Add 1 tbsp of the castor oil at this time. Tracing time about 1 hour 15 minutes. At trace, add the veviter and the other tbsp. of castor oil. Leave in mold 2 days and let sit 3 weeks before use. Then enjoy! You can also add some herbs to the mixture for texture and to add to the good looks of the bars. You can use about 4 herbal tea bags cut open and the contents added to the soap instead of adding other herbs. I added mine to the oil before mixing, but you can add it at any point that you like or leave it out if you want.

Have a great soapin' day,

So once you have a castable mixture, what do you do? Why, you pour it into a mold, of course! What can you use for molds? Read on...

> From Sun Jan 11 16:18:52 1998
> Lots of people still use old frozen juice cans as molds for making soap.  I 
> used to use microwavable plastic dishes, but those cracked during the 
> unmolding of one batch (a tangerine).  Other people, including myself, have 
> used PVC pipe to make round soaps.  Oval would be nice, but there are no 
> convenient molds for those.  Most purchasers of home/handmade soaps are NOT 
> interested in commercial lookalike soap!  Amazes me, but they really like 
> the more rustic-cut soaps.  The less it looks "manufactured," the more they 
> like it.  Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but it does seem to 
> be a general thing.

It is very easy to change the round cross-section of PVC pipe and turn it into oval (or many other shapes). I have made lots of interesting stuff using PVC as a raw material. It is a thermoplastic, just take the section you want to re-form and place it in a preheated oven. When it softens enough to bend, just form it to shape and let it cool. Don't let it get too soft, or it will sag into a pile. DON'T set it on a metal tray to heat - the part that touches the tray will heat up faster than the rest, and will mush out of shape. Try setting it on paper or wood.

> From Mon Jan 12 08:12:34 1998
> PVC is useful stuff, but be careful.  Heat PVC in  well ventilated room
> only.  PVC fumes are toxic.  My husband the plumber has warned me about
> this before.  I wonder if there is an oven setting that is hot enough to
> soften the PVC, but cool enough to avoid toxic fumes.  HHmmmmm???  I think
> that one would have to talk to PVC manufacturers about this.
> Wendy

Probably he was referring to the cements. They use carcinogenic solvents in both the cement and the prep solutions. Burning PVC is also bad. But the plastic itself softens at a much lower temperature. That's why some of them aren't even rated for hot-water piping. And also why PVC doesn't poison our drinking water. 250-300 degrees on the dial of most ovens is plenty for forming PVC.

Best regards,
Marty Jones

Nancy took the plunge into making her own soap and tells us all about it in her "testimonial" below...

I just made a small batch of soap to give to the men in my life for Easter presents. It is only the second batch of soap I have made but it turned out great! My whole house smells like patchouli and veviter. It is caramel colored and has little flecks of herbs in it. I added linden, passion flower, valerian, spearmint and tilia flowers to it. I used those little plastic containers that crisco sticks come in for molds. The recipe made 5 bars. Oh, I added goat's milk to it and some castor oil, too. I was just so excited that it turned out okay that I had to tell someone and since I'm in a little log cabin in the woods you are it! I didn't have time to stand there and stir it by hand so I used my kitchen aide mixer to do the stirring and it seemed to trace faster than when I stirred by hand. Sorry this is so long but I'm just so happy. I hope this isn't inappropriate(sp?) to the list, if it is please slap my hand so I won't do it again. Thanks for listening.

I'm hooked on soaping now for sure!!!

Nancy in East Texas

Whetted your appetite for soapmaking? Here's the list of sites and lists that I have on soap-making.


Try subscribing to soap-digest@UserHome.comand 3x a week you'll get soapers &their recipes, their secrets. They are ONE generous bunch. Must be true that cleanliness is next to godliness.

[Anita Sands]


I run a soapmaking/toiletries list, you can subscribe by sending an email to:
in the body and subject type:
subscribe unitylist
subscribe unitylist-digest

"The world has enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed." Mahatma Gandhi (1896-1948)

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