Soap sud success from Lynne’s Lab

“Anyone’s life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit.”

Last week I had a blast in my kitchen. I blogged about making my own deodorant, and how that led me to try making more household items. (Here’s the link in case you missed the first Lynne’s Lab.)

My first experiment was to make liquid soap to refill my dispensers. I stumbled upon instructions on About.com’s Frugal Living. I had all the ingredients, so, why not try it! Using that basic recipe, I grated a four-ounce bar of my favorite bath soap, Trader Joe’s Oatmeal and Honey. I brought four cups of water to a boil and took the pan off the burner, then slowly added the soap shavings, and stirred until the soap was dissolved. Once it dissolved, I let the soap rest 15 minutes and stirred it again.

The mix sat for a couple of hours and cooled (almost completely). It was a thick, gloppy mess, and I thought I had ruined it and wasted my time. But, not to be defeated, and taking a tip from the instructions, I modified things a bit. I took the soap, dumped into my blender and added a 1/4 cup of hot water. Then I blended it – it looked like a super-yummy milkshake! With the help of a funnel, I poured the warm mixture into the dispensers and it worked beautifully. It has a light fragrance and rinses well. No globs, either.

I made about 1.5 quarts of liquid soap for about a dollar. To store it, I placed the leftovers in a canning jar. The next batch I make, I plan to add a little essential oil of lavender. Not only do I love the fragrance, lavender has a calming effect and has antiseptic properties. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

After I made the liquid soap, my next project was to make liquid laundry detergent. The formula I followed made three gallons, and my cost estimate is probably about $2. The are three ingredients: one bar of Fels Naptha soap, grated; 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of Borax. Oh, and water 🙂

Put the soap shavings into a four-quart pan, add water about half-way up and cook on medium-low, stirring until shavings melt. Bring to a slight boil then add the dry ingredients, and stir until dissolved. It can boil over easily, so be careful!

Using a glass measuring cup as a scoop, pour equal amounts of the detergent base into the gallon containers. (I used rinsed-out milk containers.) Add hot water to the halfway mark and shake each container well. Lay containers on their side overnight. Solution will gel, like a big yellow glob! Using the handle of a long spoon, break up the gel and add hot water to the container – a little at a time – and shake until well blended. (Don’t fill completely to the top.) Because Jillee, the blogger who posted this detergent has excellent instructions, just click on this link for the complete process and follow her photo guide. Trust me when I tell you she did a great job in making this venture simple and easy to follow.

For ease of use, I poured some of the detergent into a well-rinsed liquid laundry detergent bottle. I use less than half of the measuring lid for a full laundry load. I gave a gallon of detergent to my daughter to try, and the consensus between our two households was that clothing seemed cleaner, brighter and softer. My daughter remarked that a grease stain that she thought was permanently set in a shirt actually came out using the homemade detergent.

Between the two soap making ventures, I spent less than two hours in the kitchen, and that includes hand-grating the bars of soap. Would I do it again? You betcha. Not only is this economical, but there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction by saying “I made it myself.” And I’d like to believe that both soaps are better for my family’s skin and better for the environment, too.

Stay tuned for my next experiment…

Do you play mad scientist in your kitchen? If so, what do you make?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

6 Replies to “Soap sud success from Lynne’s Lab”

  1. OK, I am truly impressed. I love it when people find economical ways to be “green” — and you’ve made it look like fun, too. I hear a new column brewing, don’t I? As noted in a previous comment, I haven’t made many things like this. But I have started growing some of my own herbs and veggies, and am hoping to do something else with the herbs, maybe with essential oils or something? My lavender makes nice potpourri…

    1. LOL – yes, and thanks, Cindy…another column is in the making as I made some toothpaste today. My granddaughters “helped” me count 🙂 My next venture is to learn more about herbs and essential oils. I’d like to start growing lavendar…maybe you have some growing tips to share? I have already harvested sage, and it is drying. I used last some of last year’s harvest in my Thanksgiving turkey. We also grow and dry basil, oregano and mint 🙂

  2. That was really an interesting blog. How do you think up of these projects? We grow our own herbs, mostly for our own use. That’s about it for us. This certainly warrants another column – “Going Green with Lynne”. The toothpaste sounds interesting, but what type of container do you put it in? I’m sure what you are making is certainly better for you as you know exactly what is in it. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Bob! I get a lot of ideas because I read and research a lot! I like the challenge of 1) making the item(s) and 2) seeing if they work, then I can report. For the toothpaste, I found little containers at Walmart in the section where they sell travel-sized items and empty containers. Stay tuned 🙂

  3. Love Lynne’s Lab! Can’t wait to see what you’ll make next. I’m already thinking of making my own liquid soap — we go through a lot of that here!

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