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5 Weeks to Homemade Soap Expertise

| 10/31/2019 5:43:00 PM

There I was standing over a hot wood stove stirring a pot of the most stinky, simmering beef tallow. The little old lady standing next to me shouting out instructions - because she was pretty deaf - was a scrawny little 85-year-old firecracker named Lilly. I was 19 years old and I had gotten a bee in my bonnet about making my own soap. My mom found Lilly somewhere back on a farm near Iowa Falls, Iowa. Lilly was an expert and she flew around the kitchen and handled the whole thing like she’d been doing it her whole life... and she had! When we got done we had a giant tray of the most gorgeous old fashioned lye soap. I was hooked!

This was the beginning of my lifelong affair with soap in all shapes and forms. I got soap from Spain, England, France, Japan and India. Mom always used that old standby Ivory. When I got older and went into my “woods hippie” phase I wanted something better than Ivory. I thought Kirk’s Castile and Dr. Bronner’s were the bee’s knees. Then I got the inspiration to make my own soap from one of Eliot Wigginton’s Foxfire books. Lilly was the perfect teacher.

Now I’m older and my interest in making soap has revived. I recently made Castile soap with my friend Sarah. The finished soap is now sitting on my table and it’s two weeks into curing. I learned a lot about olive oil soap as we made it. Turn out it takes a very long time to cure! 4 to 6 months! I’m going to take the next 4 weeks and make 4 more soaps, each week a different soap.

Here’s how my test drive with Castile Soap turned out.


(Caption) Week 1 Olive Oil Castile looks layered. A small mistake.

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