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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK my mother wants to make soap and she wants to do it what she calls the old fashioned way. My aunt made it this way years ago. The problems is, neither one of us has ever made soap before. My mother has assisted my aunt but it was a LONG time ago. She wants to use spent cooking grease as the oil part and lye. She has an old can of Red Devil and now she wants to use it. Does anyone have any directions I can use just in case her memory is not what she thinks it is? When my goats freshen I will be back asking for direction again.
DC
 

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First of all, how old is this can of lye?
Is the lye inside clumped? Was it sealed properly?
Personally, I would not use lye from an old source.

Second, if it's your first time making it, I would go ultra simple.

Buy a lb of lard from the grocery store.
Buy a gallon of vinegar.
Decide which soap calculator you are going to use, and figure out your recipe and print it out, or write it down. (I use the one at www.the-sage.com)
Buy or designate your "soaping" utensils and bowls.
I have a stainless steel spoon for stirring,
a 2.5 gallon bucket (obviously for larger batches, for just a lb I would use a glass bowl) I bought from Home Depot, and a pyrex measuring cup (for mixing my lye with my liquid of choice).

Do you know the "basics" of soapmaking?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The lye was stored in its original container and never opened. The can is not rusty or otherwise damaged. Shes insisting on using the grease she has saved. I have read a lot of the soap making websites so I think I have a good idea of what to do but none of the site mention using saved grease. My mother is going to do it her way and unless I help her it could be disastrous. I have all the safety equipment and will be using it. I have purchased the bucket and other items and will label them for soap only. The mold is a hospital basin and was my aunts soap mold. Its of the heavy plastic they USED to be made of.
 

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I asked my gma about using the grease and she says it can be done, but to "render" the grease in order to remove all of the impurities.

She says to put the grease in a pot with an equal amount of water and boil this mixture to liquefiy all the fat, then boil for some time longer - she didn't specify. remove the pot from heat and add another equal amount of water and cool over night. all of the junk stays in the water and the good fat flats to the top, just skim it off. Haven't tried it but it sounds like a good theory!
 

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on the brambleberry lye calculator, there are choices like tallow and chicken fat.
 

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My gramma would boil the fat several times in water that had some baking soda dissolved in it. I guess it removed odors. She also used vinegar in the water the first time she boiled it, not baking soda. She would change water and strain the fat through a layer of cloth between each boiling. The last boiling she just let the fat set up on top of the water and would remove the next day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone for your replies. I will give this to my mother and see if I can get her to rethink their plan. Boiling grease in water does not sound too safe for an inside project but I will see what I can do to make it safer. I would prefer not to use her fire insurance as a soap ingredient. Beaglebiz, thanks for the info on the brambleberry calculator.
DC
 

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Good point dragonchick, this was done outside and it never really boiled. Just got hot enough to melt and it was my job to stir it.
 

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Boiling grease in water isn't as bad as it sounds. Now on the other hand if you toss water into hot grease you will have splatters. Just add aprox equal parts of grease and water and you should have no problems. I've cleaned the grease like this several times. No splatters or any problems. Wait until the pot cools before you skim. If its solid grease all you have to do is pick it out when it solidifies.
 

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If you're using spent grease (combination of beef, chicken, pork, bacon), it is really best NOT to use water.

It is difficult to get all the water out of the soft oils such as chicken & bacon grease.

Warm up the saved grease, filter it through a paper towel.

Also, don't add baking soda to the oils. The concept is a good one (deodorizing), but you are putting a mild base to mild acid and the result is you will get a lot of foam.

Simply filtering warmed grease until it is clear is all that is needed.

Jade mentioned getting vinegar. It is an old internet myth that just won't go away that the best thing to do for a lye spill is to put vinegar on it. DON'T!!

If you have spilt lye, or lye solution the best thing to do is to dilute the lye with copious amounts of water.
 

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Thanks Cyndi for pointing something out that was clear as can be to me but would totally confuse someone taking directions from me. I really shouldn't give directions, I'm not good at it. Anyway, the baking soda was dissolved in the water, quanity?, this was a long time ago. But that stinking rodent dung infested crock of old cooking fat we hauled out of the basement ended up being the nicest, purest and whitest block of fat you ever laid eyes on.
 

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LOL Donk!

I've tried using baking soda to deordorize lard twice - both times I used water with the lard. Once I put the baking soda directly on the lard and it foamed, the next time I put baking soda in the water (didn't foam)

Both times I had really, really, really soft lard. When I froze it, then chunked it up, I had plenty of water (ice) in it.

It was a learning experience, and I only wasted a couple lb of lard.
 

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Why do you think that using vinigar (acetic acid) to neutralize lye (sodium hydroxide) is an internet myth? It is not a myth but sound chemistry

Vinegar is probably 5 to 8 % acetic acid. That means that it would take 13 times as much vinegar as dry lye to neutralize it based upon 5% total solids and the correct chemical equation. So, I agree it is not effecient. However, a better practice would be to wash w/ copious amounts of water and then do a final rinse w/ vinegar.

I work w/ 50% NaOH everyday. I always rinse w/ water and then neutalize w/ a 10% acid solution followed by another brief rinse. I do the same w/ my hands whether I wear gloves or not. It can take a LOT of water and time to rinse away NaOH.
 

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Usually once I have cleaned the grease with water like that, after it solidifies I heat it up again for a few minutes to get rid of the rest of the water that might be in it.
 

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Why do you think that using vinigar (acetic acid) to neutralize lye (sodium hydroxide) is an internet myth? It is not a myth but sound chemistry

However, a better practice would be to wash w/ copious amounts of water and then do a final rinse w/ vinegar.

I work w/ 50% NaOH everyday. I always rinse w/ water and then neutalize w/ a 10% acid solution followed by another brief rinse. I do the same w/ my hands whether I wear gloves or not. It can take a LOT of water and time to rinse away NaOH.
I didn't say it was a myth to neutralize the lye, but did say to not put vinegar straight on a lye or lye solution spill. It is unsafe practice to apply an acid directly to NaOH since it creates an exothermic reaction which would cause a lye burn to burn hotter.

The much safer practice (as you said yourself) is to Dilute the NaOH with copious amounts of water first.
 

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Cyndi, I misunderstood you. I apologize.

As for where it came from, I have a couple of soapmaking books and they both mention it, too. As dilute as vinegar is I doubt there would be a lot of additional heat generated and I suppose I assumed it was referring to a surface - not skin.

On skin the best choice is always to flush gently with water for 15 minutes.

It is a difficult transition to go from the lab to the kitchen with chemicals. Soap making would be so much easier in a well equipped lab!
 
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