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Gasoline Soap - The Real Thing!

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CaraBou

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My friend found a soap recipe containing gasoline, ammonia, borax, lye, grease, water, and sassafras oil. Get this: the recipe is titled “Homemade Soap (the real thing)” and it came from a church cookbook! I’m not nearly creative enough to make this stuff up, but to prove it I’ve included a pic of the recipe and the book cover.

Earlier this year cm4bleenmb posted a similarly strange recipe – but it didn’t have gasoline and the proportions of ammonia and borax were quite different. DeeAnna cracked that soap’s code, and laid layman’s logic that it was indeed skin safe. Check it out, it takes most of the boogeyman out of the gasoline soap too:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=41965

Sassafras oil was undoubtedly used for fragrance. It has powerful scent masking properties - I sure am glad someone thought of that! But I do wonder if that would be enough!

So that pretty much leaves just the gasoline behind the boogeyman :twisted: ... Would it react with any of the other ingredients, or was it chosen for its own ability to dissolve petroleum-based grease or other non water soluble chemicals? And what was the intent for this soap -- could it possibly be a mechanic's/farmer's hand soap, or is there no way even the old timer's would have done that? It seems more likely for a laundry soap or semi-industrial cleaner, but then wouldn't Mrs. Shumski have named it that way?? There is a picture of liquid dishwashing soap on the same page, but I can't imagine why you'd wash dishes with petrol!

The recipe (published in the 1970's) came from East Chain Township, Minnesota. This is farming country just a stone's throw from the Iowa border. Hmmm, this makes the quizzical chemistry even more perfect for a certain someone to get to cracking! But of course I'm interested in everyone's ideas and reactions. TIA!

recipe cropped.jpg

March 9 2014.jpg
 
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DeeAnna

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If you want a petroleum soap, I'd substitute kerosine or turpentine for the gasoline. Still flammable but far safer and as effective as a grease solvent. MikeInPDX has apparently made this type of soap a lot, so check out his other posts. He doesn't post here anymore and has deleted some of his posts as well, but there's still good stuff if you like to do some sleuthing. Anyways, back to my main point -- here are some quotes from others that I've gleaned from on SMF about petroleum soaps:

***

...I have made petroleum soaps....ones with mineral oils, petroleum distillates, and hydrocarbons like kerosene. I have no issue with petroleum products in my soap.....for some things they're quite useful. For example, Fels Naptha contains petroleum distillates and they really give it a boost on grease cutting. That's the reason why I use kerosene in my stain sticks. Now, as far as bath and body goes, I would probably stick with mineral oil or petroleum jelly.

Petroleum products don't saponify. You can add between 10-20% of the total weight of your oils without harm. I like 10% kerosene in my stain sticks, so, for 16 oz (1 lb) oils, you would use 1.6 oz. I mix it in at trace. You can label these soaps with "petroleum distillates" and be perfectly correct....

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=7114

***

...The kerosene smell dissipates quickly once you rinse your hands or the article of clothing in the case of the stain stick.

If you want something odor free that will sub for the kerosene.....go over to the art supply section and look for odorless turpentine substitute....."petroleum distillates" is still the correct label. Turpenoid is what I buy, and it doesn't compete with fragrance oils.

No additional fuss is needed with the kerosene. Just pour it in to your melted oils. It's flammable, but not explosive like gasoline or turpentine, which I heartily do NOT recommend using. Just keep it out of the reach of children like you would with other chemicals. It's the same stuff they used to fill lamps with.

Stain sticks:
Make up a 100% lard or palm batch. I think my favorite batch of stain sticks to date, now that I spent an evening with my notebook and soaping books are 70% lard or palm and 30% coconut.
Use soapcalc/soapmaker etc.... to determine lye for 0% superfat. Add 1.6 oz kerosene for each pound of melted oil, add your lye, and stick blend to a thick trace. You want a heavy trace to minimize the chance of curdling.

Then I pour it into a mold, and I don't bother insulating. When it's set up, I cut the soap into butter sized sticks. These will remove soaping oils, and they're dirt cheap to make....

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=10966

***

...Hi! I'm new to the soap making forum. I just got a recipe from my great grandmother that dates back to the 1920's. It is very similar to the mechanics kerosene soap recipes I have seen online. The only problem I have is that it calls for one bottle of lye. As far as fats that I was planning on using in this recipe, I was planning on using deer tallow, safflower oil, and coconut oils for my fat. The original recipe was taken from a newspaper clipping in Huntington, WV at around 1920-1930, and is as follows

1 can of lye
½ cup of kerosene
½ cup borax
½ cup sugar
5 pints washed, melted grease
2 pints water
...

Source: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=15719
 

Iluminada

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Hmmm, when I was little there was not Goo Off or similar products. We used gasoline to remove paint and stains from our hands. I wonder if this soap recipe would work instead.
 

CaraBou

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If you want a petroleum soap, I'd substitute kerosine or turpentine for the gasoline. Still flammable but far safer and as effective as a grease solvent.

Kerosene! I knew I had seen something before like this recipe, but searches on gasoline yielded nothing. The flashpoints of these two substances are quite different -- kerosene vaporizes at >100* F (depending on grade) and gasoline is -40* F. So that does seems like it would be less prone to igniting in the confines of a kitchen (though we don't often hear of gasoline exploding anywhere). But either way, it still seems odd given how much thought and care we put into stacking our soaps with goodies!

Hmmm, when I was little there was not Goo Off or similar products. We used gasoline to remove paint and stains from our hands. I wonder if this soap recipe would work instead.
I had the same thought, Iluminada, as I was painting my patio table this morning!
 

lsg

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I have never used gasoline in soap; but I have made a laundry bar containing ammonia. Didn't kill me; but I doubt if I would be brave enough to try the gasoline.:)
 

DeeAnna

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Yes, gasoline is carcinogenic -- or at least the benzene in it is considered a carcinogen.

If one wants to make a laundry product for removing really greasy ground in dirt, a stain stick with some kerosine might be useful. But the idea is about as controversial amongst soap makers as the idea of making soap with human breast milk. Some people don't mind, but others mind ... a lot. I guess the old "your mileage may vary" is worth applying to this topic.

Ammonia (NH4OH) in soap is no biggie, really. It's a base, just like KOH and NaOH, and makes a soap that is even more soluble than KOH. In my grandmother's day, it was probably easier to find than KOH (no, she didn't do lye from ashes!), so if she had wanted to make a soluble soft soap, ammonia was going to be much easier to use. After saponification, there is no smell.
 
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Jerry S

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My mother, a Minnesota farm girl used to make homemade soap which was used mostly for hand soap, laundry and dish soap. The only ingredients she used was lard or bacon grease, a little ammonia, lye and water, all at correct proportions. I loved this stuff and as a teenager working on my car there was nothing better than these bars for getting my hands clean...really clean. We ran out once and after asking her if she could throw me a bar of her soap, she commented, there isn't any left but just use plain bacon grease...I laughed and said, your kidding, she said nope, just try it. I did and it really worked well, but I used a plan bar of soap to get the bacon residue off my hands. :)
 

CaraBou

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Yeah, I have no desire to make it -- I like Jerry's mom's idea better (and breast milk too) -- but it was fun to learn about!

I am mildly curious about liquid NH4OH soap now, though. I looked high and low for KOH in Alaska and finally had to have some shipped up here. If I'd have known about ammonia cleaner I might have tried that route (maybe). But given there aren't many recipes here using it in liquid soap, there must be other drawbacks. Know what they are?
 

DeeAnna

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Drawbacks of ammonium hydroxide? It's hard for the lay person to find in a more concentrated form than the ammonia solution used for household cleaning. I think that's only 5% ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH). The sodium and potassium solutions we use are considerably more concentrated. Bottom line is that it would be hard to make a 100% ammonia-based soap.

At higher concentrations of ammonia in the solution, you get into issues of high volatility (the ammonia wants to evaporate into the air) and safety (it's scary dangerous stuff to handle). Handling anhydrous ammonia is the major reason why making methamphetamine is a hazardous occupation (besides the meth itself, of course).
 

CaraBou

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Mild curiosity snuffed. I think I'll just stick to regular old NaOH lye and the occasional additive with potential to volcano. Dangerous enough for me!

Thanks for all the great info DeeAnna, it was fun to explore!
 

LunaSkye

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Ammonia (NH4OH) in soap is no biggie, really. It's a base, just like KOH and NaOH, and makes a soap that is even more soluble than KOH. In my grandmother's day, it was probably easier to find than KOH (no, she didn't do lye from ashes!), so if she had wanted to make a soluble soft soap, ammonia was going to be much easier to use. After saponification, there is no smell.
I'm interested in how anyone can use ammonia to make soap. Do you have to add lye to ammonia though or is it reactive enough on it's own?
 

DeeAnna

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"...I'm interested in how anyone can use ammonia to make soap. Do you have to add lye to ammonia though or is it reactive enough on it's own? ..."

Ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH, aka "ammonia") is a lye, just like potassium hydroxide (KOH) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) are also lyes. It is theoretically possible to make a 100% ammonia based soap, but ammonia is extremely volatile (wants to turn into a gas). That makes it much harder and much more dangerous to work with than KOH or NaOH.

As non-commercial soaper makers, we're pretty much limited to using household ammonia solution which is about 5% ammonia in water. For that reason, it's not going to be practical to add enough ammonia so it is all of the lye in the recipe, as I explained earlier in this thread. That means you will have to use KOH or NaOH as well.

See this thread: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=41965 especially Posts 1, 8, and 16.
 
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Seawolfe

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This thread is of interest to me. I have been known to get nasty cable grease all over, even in my hair, and sometimes I am not allowed in the house till I've stripped off outside and applied Go-Jo or mechanics hand cleaner all over and to my clothes.

I'm thinking that first I would make the stain sticks with odorless turpentine substitute. Then grind some up into a slurry with some pumice? Perhaps adding more oil so that its skin safe? Or am I just being silly? It would be fun to have a cleaner like that in some girly scent.
 

CaraBou

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My biggest problem with this recipe is that there are a bunch of assumptions I'd have to make to even figure out how much of each ingredient would be safe to use. DeeAnna did a thorough review of the other recipe (non-gasoline) linked in post #1 and thought it was skin/laundry safe, but we all know we should run our own numbers for our own conclusion. Assuming you find it acceptable, I'd think you could add a little kerosene (sub'd for gasoline) and come up with something reasonably safe for hands as long as you use it infrequently and pay close attention to your skin's reaction. You'd also want to make sure no one else used it, of course, since this is obviously an "at your own risk" soap. But I'm certainly not very knowledgeable on this topic, so that's about as much as I can offer! But if you do it, please post, no one ever did on the "Sudsy Ammonia" recipe.
 

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Drawbacks of ammonium hydroxide? It's hard for the lay person to find in a more concentrated form than the ammonia solution used for household cleaning. I think that's only 5% ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH). The sodium and potassium solutions we use are considerably more concentrated. Bottom line is that it would be hard to make a 100% ammonia-based soap.

At higher concentrations of ammonia in the solution, you get into issues of high volatility (the ammonia wants to evaporate into the air) and safety (it's scary dangerous stuff to handle). Handling anhydrous ammonia is the major reason why making methamphetamine is a hazardous occupation (besides the meth itself, of course).
Anhydrous ammonia <NH4> is seriously nasty stuff.. they use it in bulk for refrigeration systems. The dilution is the best thing.
 
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