Grandma’s Lye Soap was made with rendered fat; this fat would have come from goat, beef, pork or lamb.
When making soap with animal fats; the fats will need to be purified first. This is done by rendering the fat, and it’s usually done when there are cooler temperatures outside. Late fall or early winter would be the best times.
It is important to note when rendering fat for soap, not to mix the different animal fats as each has its own different SAP values.
If you want to make soap with tallow but don’t have access to fat to render down, it can be bought already rendered.
It’s relatively easy to render fat the biggest requirements are your fat and a large stockpot.
The first thing to do is to cut the fat up into small pieces, the smaller the better; if you have a meat grinder I would recommend grinding the fat with that. It will take a lot less time to render down when its in tiny pieces.
After doing this the fat can be put into the stock pot with water added. Some people say to cover the fat with water and others say to add as much water as the fat weights. Either way its going to render down.
After the fat and water is put into the stock pot (being careful not to fill it more than 2/3rds) add the following to each pound of fat:
- 1/8 cup salt
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1-2 cloves
- 3 bay laurel leaves
Adding the salt to your stock pot will draw the impurities from the fat. The rest of the ingredients will act as a deodorant; getting rid of the smell of rendering the fat and helping to create a totally odourless tallow to make soap or candles with.
Rendering down tallow can be done in the house when vinegar, cloves and laurel leaves are added while rendering. If these ingredients were not added the smell would send your outside. This is why back in grandma’s lye soap making days it was done outside on the fire.
Place the filled stockpot on the stove and heat fat and water to boiling, then simmer the mixture until the fat melts down, when it’s totally melted down remove the stockpot from the stove and take the cloves and bay laurel leaves out.
Leave the mixture to cool down enough that the fat comes to the top of the stockpot, then spoon the tallow into plastic containers and put in the fridge to harden.
Once the tallow has hardened the only other thing to do is to take it out of the containers and cut the impurities from the bottom of the tallow. Wrap the tallow in wax paper and store it in the fridge or freezer. It will be ready there for making soap and will last in the freezer for several months.
- 1200 grams tallow
- 455 grams rain water, spring water or distilled water
- 160 grams of lye (sodium hydroxide)
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