Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Washing Fat

We've been getting low on soap, and I've been intending for more than two months to make another batch. So today, after a lovely two hours outdoors in the SUNSHINE and the frigid cold and the SUNSHINE, finding anything to do outside that I possibly could, just to be in the SUNSHINE, we did a little schoolwork and I pulled out the soap-making supplies. (Y'know, sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think when they see me all bundled up, outside, doing chores that don't really need to be done, on a day when any reasonable person would be holed up indoors with a blanket, a cup of hot coffee, and a heating pad. But there was SUNSHINE!)

Anyway, back to the soap-making.
There is no washed tallow!

Good grief. I didn't know that. At least I bought some suet last spring when the store had it on sale, knowing that it was getting to be weather when the birds could find their own food. And really, who wants suet? Well, hot diggety-dog, I nabbed it up for soap. But now I have a big pot of suet and water on the stove, melting my fat. At least it's cold enough this week that I may even be able to wash the tallow twice before bedtime.

(For those of you who don't know, you wash fat by melting it in an equal amount of water, and then letting it cool. The fat rises, and the meat and other impurities stay below in the water.)

Newton's law of momentum says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. But it also says an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Now I've been thwarted in my soap-making plans and am at rest. You do realize, then, that when I can't get going tomorrow on the soap-making, it will all be Newton's fault.


  1. I always wanted to make soap, but just never could get myself to start. I hope you got some done!

  2. Not yet. I spent the day shoveling snow, trying to fix the trojan horse that attacked my computer, and washing the fat again. I'm on my third fat-wash, and I'm pretty sure this is the last one. There was almost no meat or sinew in the fat last time, so this wash-out should take care of any impurities remaining. Maybe tomorrow we can actually haul out the lye and proceed to the chemical interactions.

    Nancy, if you start with an already clean fat (like Crisco or lard from the grocery store or olive oil) it's a lot easier to make soap than when you start with a chunk of fat straight from the butcher. Honestly, nowadays the hardest part of making soap is getting your hands on the lye.