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A DIY Soapmaking Guide: How to Make Lard Soap for Beginners
Soap making is an ancient craft that people have been practicing for thousands of years. Although you can easily buy many types of soap from your local store, store-bought soap can unbalance our pH levels and deplete our skin with natural oils like sebum. Regular use of store-bought soap can cause dry, flaky skin and even eczema in some cases.
But fortunately for us, we can make homemade soap, which is not only a useful homestead skill but has numerous benefits for our skin. Plus, making soap from scratch can be a fun and creative DIY project for the family.
One of the most common and time-tested ingredients for making soap is lard. Lard, which is basically pig fat, is an affordable and widely available ingredient that people have been using for centuries to make soap.
To learn more about why you’d want to make soap from lard and how you can do so at home, continue reading below.
An Old Fashion Lard Soap Recipe to Make at Home
Lard and other animal fats have been popular ingredients in soap recipes since the middle ages. And over the years, people have refined and made their recipes better, often adding unique fragrance oils to give scents to the soap.
In the below instructions, we are going to give a walkthrough on how to follow a cold-process soap recipe.
Let’s begin with the ingredients and materials you will need.
Gather Your Ingredients and Materials
To make soap from lard, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients and materials:
- 1 pound of lard
- 5 ounces of lye (also known as sodium hydroxide, soda ash, or caustic soda)
- 10 ounces of distilled water
- Optional: Essential oils (fragrance oils), botanicals, natural soap colorants
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- Stainless steel or enamel pot (not aluminum)
- Stainless steel or glass mixing bowl
- Stick blender
- Spatula or Spoon
- Soap mold
- Cardboard or towel
- Kitchen Scale
Note: It is best to separate your kitchen equipment from soapmaking equipment. But if you choose to use your kitchen equipment, make sure to clean it with vinegar and warm soapy water before beginning the soapmaking process.
Prepare Your Work Area
Before you start the soapmaking process, you should prepare your work area to ensure that everything’s clean and organized. Doing so will help you avoid contamination and keep you safe while handling potentially harmful substances. Here’s how to do it:
- Clean Your Work Area. Start by cleaning your work area using soap and hot water. It would be best if you clean your countertop, stove, pots, utensils, and anything else you’ll be using to make your lard soap. Then, use a clean towel to dry everything.
- Cover Your Work Area. Use newspapers or plastic sheets to cover your work area and protect it from spills and splatters. Soapmaking can sometimes get messy, so you should take this time to protect your surfaces.
- Gather Your Supplies. Gather everything you’ll need for soap making. Refer to the list above.
- Wear Protective Gear. Don’t skip out on wearing safety goggles and gloves. These will protect you from the lye and other chemicals. To be extra safe, you should also wear long sleeves and pants to stop chemicals from getting on your skin.
- Ventilate Your Work Area. Ensure your work area is well-ventilated. Consider opening a window or turning on a fan to help the air circulate and prevent fumes from building up. Lye can produce dangerous fumes, so don’t attempt to make lard soap if you’re not in a well-ventilated area. We suggest mixing the lye water outside to avoid dangerous fumes lingering inside.
Measure and Mix Your Ingredients
Start by measuring out 10 ounces of distilled water and 5 ounces of lye. The ideal water-to-lye ratio should be less than 30% lye and more than 70% water. Carefully pour the lye into the water while you gently stir with a non-reactive spoon. The mixture will start to heat up and give off fumes.
Note: Lye mixed with water causes a chemical reaction that releases fumes and can burn human skin upon contact. This is because lye water is a highly alkaline substance. So be very cautious when handling lye water.
Prepare the Lard and Lye Solution
The next step to take is to prepare the lard and lye solution. Since this is the most important step and requires the most attention to detail, follow these instructions carefully:
- Calculate the right mix of ingredients: Use a soapmaking calculator to determine the right mix of ingredients for the amount of ingredients you have. Here is a free online soap calculator we like to use.
- Weigh out the lard. Start by weighing out the amount of lard you need for your soap. If you’re using a digital kitchen scale, ensure it’s set to grams or ounces for an accurate reading.
- Melt the lard. Melt the lard in a large pot on low heat. Be sure not to let the lard boil or overheat since this will cause it to become rancid. After you’ve melted the lard, remove it from the heat and let it cool to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Weigh out the lye. Weigh out the amount of lye you need for making your soap. Once again, make sure you’re wearing gloves and safety goggles.
- Mix the lye and water. If you haven’t already, add the lye to the distilled water in a plastic container or glass. Don’t use metal since lye can react with metal and create dangerous fumes. Stir the mixture until you’ve completely dissolved the lye.
- Cool the lye solution. Let the lye solution cool down to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This may take 30 minutes or so.
- Combine the lard and lye water. Once the melted lard and lye solution are at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, carefully pour the lye solution into the melted lard. Then, use a whisk or a hand blender to mix the two together until the mixture thickens and reaches a ‘trace.’ Trace is the point at which your mixture thickens, and a spoonful of the mixture leaves a visible trail on the surface.
- Add Fragrances, Botanicals, and Coloring (Optional): If you want to give your soap an aroma and style, now is the time to add essential oils, botanicals, or natural soap colorants.
Pro Tip: Always add lye to the water, NOT the water to the lye. Otherwise, it can lead the lye water to bubble and erupt out of the container.
Pro Tip: Just in case you get lye on your skin, keep vinegar nearby to neutralize the burning sensation.
Note on Superfatting: The soap calculator mentions superfatting, which is the process of adding additional fat to the recipe to make the soap more moisturizing and to reduce the amount of lye in the soap batter. If there is too much lye in the soap, it can burn the skin. So I usually aim for 6% superfatting, just to be safe.
Note on Safety: Since the soapmaking process can release fumes, it is best to make soap when kids or pets are not around.
Pour the Soap Into the Mold
Once your soap mixture has reached trace, you can pour it into the mold. Here’s how you should do it:
- Prepare the mold. Before pouring the soap, make sure your mold is clean and ready to use.
- Slowly pour the soap. Carefully pour your soap mixture into the mold. It’s essential to pour steadily and slowly to avoid creating air pockets in the soap.
- Smooth out the surface. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smoothen the soap’s surface. Doing so will create an even surface and stop air pockets from forming.
- Cover and insulate. Cover the mold with cardboard or a towel to keep it warm.
Let the Soap Cure
Let the soap sit for 48-72 hours. After at least 48 hours is up, remove the soap from the mold and cut it into soap bars. Let the soap bars cure for 3-4 weeks.
Pro Tip: Turn over the soap bars every few days so that the bar of soap can dry evenly.
What is Lard Soap?
Lard soap is soap made from pig fat. Lard and other animal fats have been popular ingredients in soap recipes since the middle ages. People started following animal fat as an alternative to more expensive fats like olive oil. Also, lard soap is firm and long-lasting, making it a reliable soap for the common person.
Lard soap remained a popular type of soap until the 20th century. As major companies started mass-producing commercial soap, soaps from animal fats became less common. But in recent years, tallow soap, coconut oil soap, olive oil soap, and lard soap have all risen in popularity again. And especially so among people embracing an all-natural lifestyle. And for a good reason, because there are lots of benefits to using all-natural soaps.
Some of the benefits and disadvantages of using lard soap are:
Benefits of using Lard Soap
Soap can be made from many different types of animal fats and oils, but there are some unique benefits of using a lard soap bar on your skin. The benefits of lard soap are:
- Long-Lasting: Soap made with lard is known to be long-lasting and durable. Soap made of lard is sturdy because it contains a high amount of saturated fats that resist oxidation and spoilage. So, lard soap will last longer than many store-bought soaps that contain more unsaturated fats that turn rancid over time.
- Moisturizing: Lard has a high amount of fatty acids. These fatty acids include oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Although you may think fatty acids are harmful, these acids are beneficial and help moisturize and soften your skin.
- Versatile: Lard is a versatile ingredient that you can use to make a variety of different soaps, including hand soap, liquid soap, shampoo bars, and laundry soap. This versatility makes lard a great ingredient to have on hand for DIY soapmaking projects.
- No additives Necessary: Soap made from lard does not require synthetic ingredients, detergents, or synthetic preservatives. But all of this can be found in store-bought soap, which can have a negative effect on our skin and health.
- Rich in Antioxidants: Natural soaps are high in antioxidants, which help repair and hydrate skin. Natural soaps are also gentler on the skin than the common store-bought soap.
Overall, using lard to make soap is a great way to create a long-last, cost-effective, and moisturizing soap that’s easy on your skin. Moreover, it’s a sustainable choice that supports local farmers and reduces waste.
Downsides of using Lard Soap
Although using lard to make soap comes with many benefits, it does have a few minor drawbacks to consider.
- Lard Soap Does Not Lather Well on its Own: Soap lather is the bubbles that form when rubbing soap against a surface which causes friction and the cleaning process to occur. Unfortunately, lard does not create much lather on its own, so for this reason, it is suggested you add castor oil (about 5%) to your recipe. to create
- Allergies: Another potential drawback of using lard for soap making is that your skin may react poorly to lard if you have sensitive skin or allergies to animal products.
Although people generally consider lard to be safe for use in soap making, it would be best if you performed a patch test on a small area of skin before using lard soap.
Making soap from lard is a simple and affordable way to make your own soap. You can create high-quality soap that’s gentle on the skin using just a few readily available ingredients.
To reiterate, it’s crucial that you take the necessary safety precautions when making your soap. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles. Also, work in a well-ventilated space.
Learning to make your own soap and other detergents is an important step in becoming more self-sufficient, helping someone transition onto a homestead,
To learn more about other DIY projects that use natural ingredients, check out the other blog posts on our website.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between cold-process soap and hot-process soap?
The main difference between the two is in the way the soap is cooked and processed. In cold process soapmaking, the lye and water are mixed together until the substance saponifies and becomes soap. The curing process then takes 4-6 weeks before a cold-processed soap can be used. In hot-process soapmaking, the lye and water are heated together until it saponifies and becomes soap. But in this case, the hot processed soap can be used immediately after it cools.
Is lye dangerous in soap?
Lye is a key ingredient in making soap, and you cannot make soap without lye. Once the lye mixes with a fat, the pH level of the soap becomes less alkaline to a pH level of 8.5-11. The natural pH level of skin is 4.5-5.5, so any type of soap will have drying effects on sensitive skin.
Also, in the soapmaking process, lye is heavily diluted by water and other oils, making it safe to use after the curing process is over.
Why is lye in soap?
The lye is needed for the soapmaking process. Lye makes it possible for the soap to have its cleaning properties. But the lye is not present after the soap undergoes its curing process.
Can I Make Soap From Vegetable Oils Instead of Lard?
Yes, you can make soap using a variety of vegetable oils. Note that each oil will bring different properties to the soap, so you should do your research beforehand.
Can I Make Soap Without Lye?
No, you need lye to make soap. It’s the ingredient that causes the chemical reactions in fats and oils that turn them into soap.
Can I Use My Homemade Lard Soap for My Face?
Yes, you can use your homemade lard soap for your face. But some people may find that lard soap is too harsh for their face. So, you should perform a patch test before using your lard soap on your face.
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