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Make Your Own Laundry Soap--or--Soaponification!

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I love making things, messing with technology--and I love soaponification!  I make my own soap.  You can, too!

Do-it-yourselfers can make their own laundry soap.  It's pennies on the dollar, so to speak, after all the so-called, "dollar" is only worth a few pennies to begin with... you get the point... and the soap cleans by far and away better than any of the laundry detergent you buy off the shelf, does not eat your clothes, and is biodegradable.  It's easy to do and it's a no-brainer.

There are a thousand different recipes for laundry soap on YouTube and the Internet in general, so do your research there and pick the recipe you like best.  Meantime I will provide here a simple recipe I use at home.  Here is what you will need:

1.  A bar of your favorite soap
2.  A soup kettle or large cooking pot
3.  One cup Super Washing Soda
4.  One cup Borax
5.  One quarter cup of baking soda and/or one quarter cup Oxyclean or equivalent (all optional)
6.  A five gallon bucket w/ lid
7.  Something to stir with.  I use a length of discarded broomstick

Get a bar of your favorite soap.  I use Fels-Naptha or ZOTE laundry soap.  Fels-Naptha is a more powerful cleaner than ZOTE, so I prefer it over ZOTE for that reason alone, as I lead an active lifestyle and get a whole lot of dirty, sweaty, and smelly.  Fels-Naptha does the job for me. 

OK, you got your soap.  Now, either grate the soap or chop it up into small pieces and put it into a soup kettle with about four quarts of tap water.  Grating takes longer, but it's worth it, as the soap melts much faster.  Put the kettle on the stove at low heat and melt down the soap, stirring occasionally until all is liquified.  Do not cover the kettle while it is heating.  If you do, the soap will rise up over the edge of the kettle and spill onto your stovetop.  What a mess.  Anyway, keep the lid off and the heat low and you will have great success. 

While your soap is melting, pour yourself one cup of Super Washing Soda and one cup of Borax and put them aside.  You can also pour out your baking soda and/or Oxyclean if you choose.  Its not necessary, but adds cleaning power.  That's it.  That's all the ingredients you will need.  You can find them in the laundry section of your grocery store or big department store.  Even some of the larger drugstores have them.  

Once your soap is melted,  mix thoroughly and pour it into your clean five gallon bucket.  I do the mixing in the bathtub because I am messy.  Fill the bucket about halfway with hot water, as hot as it comes from your tap.  Start slowly pouring your Super Washing Soda, Borax and other optional ingredients (if any) into the mixture, stirring all the while until all ingredients are liquified.  Once this is done, fill the bucket the rest of the way with the hot tap water, cover and leave your bucket set overnight.  

You're done.  That's all there is to it.  

In the morning, you will find the bucket is room temp and the mixture inside has separated with a thick gel or hardened cake on top and thinner liquid going to the bottom.  This is normal.  Just break up the cake or the gel and stir your mixture until even again.  Your soap is ready to use.  

I take a plastic laundry bottle and fill it with my soap and keep it in my laundry supply for daily use.  I go back to the bucket for a refill when I need one.  The soap will separate between uses, so be sure to stir the bucket and shake the bottle before using.  

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Mother made lye soap in a very large cast iron pot over a fire in the back yard (we had firewood we had cut from the grandparents' land in the country, in OK---I still cut our own firewood, here, from our acreage in VA, but do not make soap). That was in the late '50's and early '60's. When it was solid, we cut it into bars. When Mother did wash, she would take a bar and shave off a bunch with a knife and melt it in a small saucepan on the stove (we had electricity). This was to pour on the collar of our father's white shirts going into the wash. He was a civilian employee at the Air Force base. (He was in the the War Room with the Generals---the base in lockdown---when President Kennedy went on television to announce the Cuba blockade in October 1962.) Mother ironed his shirts perfectly, keeping him looking perfectly sharp. People who know how to do things and do them are people I especially like.

Edited by Boydstun
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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Mother made lye soap in a very large cast iron pot over a fire in the back yard (we had firewood we had cut from the grandparents' land in the country, in OK---I still cut our own firewood, here, from our acreage in VA, but do not make soap). That was in the late '50's and early '60's. When it was solid, we cut it into bars. When Mother did wash, she would take a bar and shave off a bunch with a knife and melt it in a small saucepan on the stove (we had electricity). This was to pour on the collar of our father's white shirts going into the wash. He was a civilian employee at the Air Force base. (He was in the the War Room with the Generals---the base in lockdown---when President Kennedy went on television to announce the Cuba blockade in October 1962.) Mother ironed his shirts perfectly, keeping him looking perfectly sharp. People who know how to do things and do them are people I especially like.

Most made their own soap back then.  My dad's grandmother was a big German woman with a mean streak who refused to speak English.  Every Saturday night the children got their baths from her, scrubbing them with her homeade lye and a stiff brush.  Lots of crying children.

This laundry soap is better than store bought, is just too easy to make and saves so much money that, to my mind anyway, it's just silly not to do it.  

We grew up chopping wood, too.  I love swinging axes and hammers.  

 

 

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