You can do that with soap?

OK I like making soap. First did it at about 7 years old. Plain old lard and lye. It was magical. Just mix this drain cleaner with some lard, and you get soap. ( I used a simplified method that IIRC was on the back of the Red Devil Lye container. No cooking involved, just mix the concentrated lye, stir it into a hard fat that was warmed to liquid, and let it set up.)

Why? Well, partly it was likely the Amish traditions being encouraged. If I’d ask something like “where does soap come from?” instead of getting the answer “the grocery store”, I’d get “you make it from lard and lye”. If I’d ask how, odds were I’d get a description of how. “Mix lye with lard and wait”… If I asked to do it, generally speaking I was encouraged to try it. (whatever ‘it’ was. Heck, they gave me a chemistry set with full selection of reagents about that age. Including a couple clearly marked as ‘poison’. Times were different then…)

At any rate, I enjoyed the ’empowerment’ of being able to make soap. Eventually I even found a book on making detergents and gave that a try. The result worked, sort of, but has unacceptable aesthetics. (Gooey dark liquid that had a chemical smell).

But my artistic side was not as advanced as my industrial. So I never got into the decorative and ornamental side of things. Besides, one of the attractions was just that I could make UN-scented soaps. Since my tendency to allergies was pleased by that, I liked the simple soaps best. ( I use a basic lye soap for my shaving mug to this day. Yes, I use a mug of soap and pig bristle brush…)

So I’m looking at space alien videos, and run into these on making soaps. I find it amazing what they do with soap. Jelly Soap? Really? Yes… And a loaf of “faux turkey” that’s soap? Yup.

What I find most interesting is the selection of materials used. Who knew you could use gelatin in soap…

Clearly I’m not creative enough with soap… But maybe I can learn. Perhaps I’ll actually try making a ‘funny soap’ this year… Just not one with ‘scent’ in it ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to You can do that with soap?

  1. adrianvance says:

    I am sure you mean “lye.”

  2. Jerry Franke says:

    If you have any lye left over after your soap making, you can use it to make lutefisk – a holiday treat still enjoyed by many Nordic-Americans.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh dear! Soap Cupcakes:

    @Jerry Franke:

    Having a great fondness for salmon sushi, I don’t think I could bear to treat it with lye, or wait for it to ‘process’ ;-)

    OTOH, I’ve had some very good and very interesting Nordic foods ( a couple of Nordic smörgåsbords come to mind… but I can’t name whatever it was I was eating… that included some ‘interesting’ fish dishes…) so maybe if I caught a BIG salmon and couldn’t eat it all fresh…. ;-)

  4. jim2 says:

    From one of the wikis …
    Hominy consists of dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.
    This article contains Cherokee syllabic characters. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Cherokee syllabics.

    The English term hominy is derived from the Powhatan language word for maize. Many other Native American cultures also made hominy and integrated it into their diet. Cherokees, for example, made hominy grits by soaking corn in a weak lye solution obtained by leaching hardwood ash with water and beating it with a kanona (ᎧᏃᎾ), or corn beater. The grits were used to make a traditional hominy soup (gvnohenv amagii ᎬᏃᎮᏅ ᎠᎹᎩᎢ), a hominy soup that was allowed to ferment (gvwi sida amagii ᎬᏫ ᏏᏓ ᎠᎹᎩᎢ), cornbread, dumplings (digunvi ᏗᎫᏅᎢ), or, in post-contact times, fried with bacon and green onions.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    ER………… Is faux turkey soap made out of faux turkeys or is to clean Faux Turkeys. 8-) pg

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Vance:

    Thanks, fixed. I was in a hurry and one of the things that gets skipped is the spell check read ( spouse wanted to go to the Mission for Mass – one of the nice things about having a working Spanish Mission nearby…) I’m prone to phonetic spelling anyway, unless I think about it. On a word count it looked like I had about 1/2 spelled each way ;-)


    It could have been made BY faux turkeys ;-)

    as in ‘I’m only pretending to belong at the craft table, really I’m a computer scientist…’


    One of the interesting things about corn is that if you don’t do that lye/lime treatment it isn’t nearly as useful as food. In diets very high in corn, some of it must be processed that way to avoid “issues”. (Mostly makes niacin available and breaks down some mold toxins, also changes the protein balance to be a bit better and increases calcium – from lime in the ashes used)

    Cherokee has an interesting alphabet…

  7. Hey E.M., You’re not the only dodger who saw through the shaving cream scam. I’ve been using a brush with soap (dove if it’s around, as it foams up so nice) for 30 years or so. Since my mid-twenties. Canned foam doesn’t come close!

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeay! I am not alone ;-)

    As I have 3 other folks in the house who are remarkably high soap consumers, but don’t like the little bits toward the end, I’ve started tossing the ‘runts’ into the mug. I still have net soap usage from the home made stuff, but not much. It is almost parity…

    So nearly free ‘shaving cream’.

    The cans are gone so fast, all I can figure it that it’s about an ounce of soap and several of propellant. I’ve also found that by using hot water in the mug, I get a very nice warm foam, that makes the razor a bit easier on the face…

    The prior brush lasted a couple of decades. It gave out about 4 months back, and I found a replacement (in horrible green handle only…) at Walgreens. That one is already shedding bristles, some in chunks… Made in China with who knows what as bristle glue…

    So now I’m figuring that when this one gives out I’m just going to get a paint brush. About a buck instead of $10 and much more sturdy.

    Oh, and the ‘soap dregs’ have a lighter though foamier aspect. The home made soap has a thicker but less ‘lofty’ foam. Mixed together it’s a nice combo.

    I’m of the opinion using the mug of soap has saved me dozens of bucks a year. Probably a few cuts too… since I get a moment to ‘wake up’ while contemplating the face and stirring the suds ;-)

  9. barryjo says:

    I also had a chemistry set. But back then, one could find interesting things at the local drugstore. Comptons Encyclopedia had an article on black powder. Soooo. The drug store had flowers of sulfur, and saltpeter. We already had the charcoal. (Before the days of Kingsford.)
    We found that varying the ratios of each, interesting things happened. Extremely fortunate we all still have our original equipment.

  10. Judy F. says:

    It is amazing what you can make soap with. One of the crafters at one of my shows makes soap from sheep’s milk. On one soap blog I saw where people made soap out of donkey milk, soy milk or coconut milk. ( the milks are used as the liquid instead of water). I use beer sometimes, and have seen a white zinfandel soap too. The mind boggles…

    For your shaving brush if you don’t mind spending some bucks:

    Even pricier :

    Homemade shaving soap recipes :


    It looks like bentonite clay is a common ingredient in the shaving soap. I suppose it limits the irritation and increases the glide of the razor.

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