Just found Grandmother's soap recipe

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I just recieved my Grandmother's soap making recipe, it is at least 60 years old, hand written in her cook book. This is a direct transcription of it; 3 Parts, (pints?) rainwater in a large stone jar in P.M. , 2 heaping Tbs. powdered Borax, 1/2 cup ammonia, 1 can of lye, (the old lewis lye I presume), stir well let sit til A.M., Add 2 Tbs. Oil of Sasafras, 6 pounds melted fat, not hot, stir until thick as fudge, pour into carton lined with oil paper. So, I like the precision of measurement! I am interested in hearing opinions on the recipe, and anything else related to it. I am going to try this one out in a 1/4 sized batch. My grandmother is 102 this year.
 

Peachy Clean Soap

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I just recieved my Grandmother's soap making recipe, it is at least 60 years old, hand written in her cook book. This is a direct transcription of it; 3 Parts, (pints?) rainwater in a large stone jar in P.M. , 2 heaping Tbs. powdered Borax, 1/2 cup ammonia, 1 can of lye, (the old lewis lye I presume), stir well let sit til A.M., Add 2 Tbs. Oil of Sasafras, 6 pounds melted fat, not hot, stir until thick as fudge, pour into carton lined with oil paper. So, I like the precision of measurement! I am interested in hearing opinions on the recipe, and anything else related to it. I am going to try this one out in a 1/4 sized batch. My grandmother is 102 this year.
WOW' this is so awesome! viewing the old way of soaping & you can ask her about soaping' such a treasure on both accounts. Let us know how it turns out? Thx for sharing 🧼🤗💫
 
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KimW

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Oh wow - what a treasure you have found indeed! I love it.

I have no other opinions, except this: Try that recipe exactly as is, except for lowering (by percentage) the amounts. No adding of EOs, or deviating from the recipe in any way, except maybe for the mold lining because I'm not sure if one can get oil paper these days.

Even though some of the ingredients do give me pause, I'd still do it exactly as written, if only to understand the type of soap folks made and used 60 years ago. So exciting!!
 

KimW

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If I know my Grandmother, she made it herself, a survivor of the Depression Era.
It's funny - that's what one would think, but my Grandma, born 1918 in the country, only made soap as a hobby with her sisters. She bought her soap in cakes from the feed store in town. I don't recall her and her sisters ever referencing making soap growing up.

Would parchment be the closest match here?
That was my first thought, but parchment is infused with silicone not oil. I'd probably either try to make my own oil paper (because I'm nuts), or I'd just use a traditional lining material, like freezer paper or saran wrap - or use one of my molds that don't require lining.
 

Zing

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This is really super awesome. Can't wait to hear about the results. I have been so curious about my South Dakota farmer grandparents and soap making. I did ask my dad once who said his mom (my grandma born in 1915) would make soap probably using lard and lye, it burned the skin, "it looked and felt nothing like yours!" Keep us posted. And I'll go thru the thread @DeeAnna flagged.
 
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Wow, I know it is an old recipe now, Sassafras, according to Google, was banned in the 1960's as some sort of toxin, hmmmm, need to look further into this ingredient. BUT, I have found some, so I will get it to make thiss as close to hers as possible.
 
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RDak

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That's basically how I learned to make soap back in the mid 60's. I'd stay at my grandparents house for a week each summer and I would do the grunt work in making their soap for the year. (I got my yearly supply also.)

She used rendered bacon fat (I did all the rendering on that first day).

On the second day my grandmother had the recipe and weighed out the ingredients. The way I remember it was the bacon fat, some ammonia, olive oil (no borax that I remember) and lye. My grandfather bought all the supplies and made the large wooden square molds to hold the soap in. (The largest ingredient was the rendered bacon fat.......probably around 60/70 percent.)

One MAJOR difference is they hot processed it right over the stove flame and I was the stirrer of the mixture. I stirred, and stirred and stirred..........then stirred some more until it got to the mashed potatoes texture. Grandpa and grandma would drink their beer and wine respectively and we would talk, and talk.........and talk some more. Good times.

At the mashed potato stage grandma then tossed in some fragrance oil concoction and then I stirred a bit again. (I can't remember the actual smell very much, kinda fruity IIRC.)

The third day my grandfather would unmold it and cut it all into bars. (I was the cleaner of all the stuff....LOL!)

Turned out good and helped with my lifelong psoriasis ailment.

That is probably why I still use the double boiler method. (They didn't use the double boiler so I had to be more hands on when looking for that mashed potato look and STIRRING REGULARLY.)

We had a good time and I wish I could go back and see them again for that annual week in the summer visit. Did that for quite a few years.

I never did get her recipe and when making my own soap I got recipes from library books. Simple stuff, nothing complicated.
 

DeeAnna

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Assuming the melted fat is lard - is it possible to approximate this in the lye calculator? It would be interesting to see the numbers.
Ammonia solution and borax aren't included in any online soap recipe calc I know of, so they aren't of much help. I had to modify my personal calc and do some hand calculations to analyze this type of recipe.
 
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kaygrrl

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Wow! What a treasure!
I have never heard of using ammonia in the lye solution. Wonder what it does?
In rendering tallow I know vinegar is used to clean the tallow so it’s less stinky. Perhaps that’s the role of ammonia in her grandma’s recipe?
 

RDak

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In rendering tallow I know vinegar is used to clean the tallow so it’s less stinky. Perhaps that’s the role of ammonia in her grandma’s recipe?
You can use ammonia instead of KOH in a hybrid soap recipe and adjust your lye DOWN by 5% for each volume of weight you are using (e.g., 20 grams of ammonia, reduce the NaOH by 1 gram). The reason being that store bought ammonia is 5% strength usually.

ETA: Oh, you can mix the lye right into the water/ammonia mixture.
 
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Assuming the melted fat is lard - is it possible to approximate this in the lye calculator? It would be interesting to see the numbers.
No matter where I calc this it comes out at 2-3 % sf. I will do a very small batch as written, and as a HP, just to see. then I will balance it a bit to get 5% SF.
 
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