Most people believe soap making to be a difficult task, and view it as something they wouldn't attempt. Actually, making your own scented soaps is simple and ver inexpensive--with the added bonus of knowing just what ingredients are in your soap. No chemical dyes, hardening agents, chemical additives, alcohol, or fillers in your homemade soap! Homemade soap can be cooked in small amounts in city apartments or in large amounts in contry iron kettles.
It is believed that soap was accidently discovered over 3,000 years ago in Rome. It has been deliberately made ever since. The Pakistanis made soap from silkworms, while the American Indians made soap from desert plants. The two essential ingredients for soap are fat and lye, both of which are easy to obtain. Here are some general rules that must be followed for successful soap: 1. Never use aluminum utensils; instead use enamel or iron (lye reacts with aluminum). 2. Use only clean fat or lard. 3. Never allow aging soap to get in a cold draft as it turns hard and flinty. 4. Pour soap into molds of about 1 1/2 inches (too thin a soap will curl when drying; soapp too thick is difficult to hold). 5. Aging improves soap.
To render fat, fill a large pan with several inches of hot water and add the finely cut fat. Cook over a medium heat stirring occasionally until the fat is all melted. Strain the melted mixture to remove all impurities. Allow to cool, then lift off lard (from swine) or tallow (from cows).
Source: The Rodale Herb Book, 1974