I love the soap at Tierra Soul. Is the recipe a farm secret?
Lori (a Farm-Stay Guest)
It’s all in the Lard, Lady!
When we passed this question on to Madame Hettie, she didn’t even skip a beat before answering. She’s right, Lard is our secret, and now it can be yours!
Of course we teach a whole segment on this topic called Urban Apothecary: Soaps Salves Tinctures and Tonics in our Lazy-Lady Living program, but we want to give you some tips right now so you can tackle your fear of soap-making and get started making the most sustainable, delicious and skin nourishing soap around!
To get you started we have identified 3 most important things you need to know to make soap as good as, or better than, ours here at the farm.
3 Secrets to Sustainable Soap Making
1) Lard is Special:
Why pay for expensive imported olive and coconut oil when there is a rich nourishing source of fat right here that until recently, was being thrown away? Rendering lard is as simple as quartering a chicken and melting butter in a pan. Often you can ask your butcher to buy it already rendered. Now that’s sustainability.
Save money while you protect our precious planet and increase the healing properties of your soap. Lard has been used for generations in healthy cultures and it is the perfect vehicle for cleansing and healing body care products. According to a Swiss study, Lard is the best medium for transmitting the healing properties of plants. Yes, they studied it in comparison with other fats and it was shown to be the superior medicinal fat.
2) Overcoming Fear of Lye:
Many people (including Mama Soul) resisted making soap because she had heard all about how caustic and dangerous Lye is. Thanks to Papa Soul, she learned the truth about Lye and was empowered to get a grip on her fear. There are 2 things that helped her get over the hump:
Proper Protection: You want to add lye to cold liquid. The reaction that takes place will create heat. Lye is perfectly safe when dry, but when it comes into contact with liquid (even the small amount on your hands) it starts reacting and creating burning heat. In order to feel 100% safe with lye you will need the following: Eye protection, gloves and a safe place to store you well labelled lye. You also need to know one other thing:
Lye Calculator: We like this one, but use google and find the one you like best. The Lye calculator will tell you exactly how much lye to use depending on your other ingredients (see below).
3) Other Ingredients:
We offer all our Farm-Stay guests an all purpose and unscented bar of soap because we don’t know their preferences and sensitivities, but one of the most amazing things about making soap is adding super special ingredients! You can add milk, tea, honey, essential oils, textures straight from nature, or from your kitchen like cocoa, oats and cornmeal.
The limits are set only by your ability to dream and imagine.
And this gets to the specific answer to Lori’s question!
The truth is we don’t have a secret or specific recipe we follow every time we make soap here at Tierra Soul Urban Farm & Guesthouse. Soap is a very simple substance made from Fat and Lye. Our secret is that we use Lard for its medicinal qualities and sustainability and then check in with what we have on hand, in season, and in our environment and mix it in with creativity and love.
Thank you Lori, for your question and helping us know what you want to hear from us.
Tierra Soul Christmas Soap 2010
cocoa•cornmeal•rose & oatmeal•honey•goatmilk
Has this column helped you?
We’d love to hear about your insights, contributions and successes in the comments below!