Jenny Lynn Keller
Not a Soap Opera
Last summer my preferred hand soap disappeared from store shelves and never returned. Unable to find a suitable substitute, I decided to make my own. After finding a simple recipe online, I mixed the two ingredients (organic castile soap and distilled water) in the correct proportions and liked the results. Around for centuries, castile soap is vegetable-based, non-toxic, biodegradable, and more economical than most popular name brand products. Plus, it cuts through grease better than most kitchen brands because it’s alkaline like the homemade soap of our ancestors. One of my mother’s earliest memories was helping her mother and grandmother make soap. Like many southern women of that time, they made soap in late fall when hogs were butchered. Unlike my easy recipe, their process required days. Hardwood ashes were boiled in water over a fire until the ashes settled and the liquid lye floated to the top. They skimmed the lye and boiled it to a jelly consistency. At the same time in a separate pot, they heated the hog fat to remove all its water content. The condensed hog fat was added slowly to the simmering gelatin lye and stirred until a mush formed. The mush was ladled into grease-soaked boxes, cooled, and cut into useable bars. Whew, I’m tired just writing about it. Folks, we enjoy an easy life nowadays.
What’s your hand soap preference—liquid, bar, gel, or foam?
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