Homemade Lard or Crisco Soap

by Daisy

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Lard soap and Crisco soap are LOW BUBBLING soaps, which make them especially good for laundry and scrubbing yicky stuff around the house. Additionally, they are CHEAP AS ALL GET-OUT to make. They’re the only soaps I’ve found that can beat Ivory on price.

1. Melt one pound of lard or veggie shortening in a sauce pan over med-low.

2. While the fat melts, put 6oz of water in a pitcher, sprinkle in 2 oz of lye, and gently swirl to dissolve. (According to this lye calculator, one pound of either requires the same lye and water.)

3. Allow melted fat and lye water to cool for a minute or two–till you can touch the sides of the containers without burning the snot out of yourself.

4. Pour the lye water into the sauce pan and blend with an immersion blender to “trace,” which means till it’s thick enough that you can kind of see where you’ve been and drips stay visible on the surface for a second or two. (This will take a while for the lard.)

4.b. This is the time to put in any scent you like.

5. Pour into mold.

6. Let it sit a day or two, then peel off the can, and slice it for curing.

7. Cure for a few weeks and then grate a bar for this recipe.


Tags: , lard soap, crisco soap, laundry soaps

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Tomato Lady September 30, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Can you expound on how the ping-pong table seems to be the linchpin of your soapmaking. . .

anajz October 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm

You make this look so-o-o-o easy. I know I am going to have to get over this, but the thought of working with lye scares me.
So far I have been safe, because I have not found a local source for it. 🙂

ga.farmwoman October 1, 2008 at 8:27 pm

I just love the way you show and tell your projects!
I have been thinking about soap making and since I see how easy it can be, I may just give it a try soon.

Ivory Soap October 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm

I’m so glad it looked easy, ladies. I’ve found so many of the online tutorial to be SO complicated.

And anajz, lye isn’t as bad as it sounds. I mean it’s BAD, but it’s not like rat poison. It’s real easy to clean up and neutralize.

Red Icculus October 7, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I love your homemaking skills and ingenuity with the pringles can.

Weird question: can I use rendered bacon fat, or am I bound for a clean, but bacon scented home?

Ivory Soap October 7, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Sure you can use rendered bacon fat. That’s how your grandma did it. And it won’t smell like much of anything after it cures.

But, you have to prepare the fat so that you don’t have a bunch of yuck in it.

Kathy Miller explains here how to wash the fat, to remove rancidity and whatnot.

Then, you’re ready to go!

Pammeyepoo June 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm

It is not just anywhere that you can get a recipe for homemade soap that warns you not to touch it or burn the snot out of your hand. Gotta love a down-t0-earth gal like yourself. Real women so ROCK! Love your site…

ivorysoap76 June 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Yes, ma’am!!

Jackie July 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

How can you make your soap into pretty designs with speckles and stuff in them? i’m new to this. haha

Ivory Soap July 24, 2009 at 8:32 am

You would need to pour it into a mould, instead of a pringles can. And put in your additives (sparkles et al) right after trace. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001OHKR7E?ie=UTF8&tag=lithouinthesu-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001OHKR7E

Recluse July 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I was so tickled pink to find your posts simplifying the art of soapmaking (something I’ve wanted to do for a long time) that I printed the instructions on the spot and made my first batch of Crisco soap the next day, with laundry specifically in mind. Let the bars cure for over a month and just yesterday I cubed them and tossed them into the food processor, added some washing soda and wee little bit of what remained from my original batch of “homemade” laundry soap (Ivory Snow***, Calgon and washing soda–aka Oxy Clean). Today, however, was the real test: my first load of laundry–which I do by hand or with a plunger type thing–using the new soap! The result was very disappointing, unfortunately. Maybe I used too much, but the water looked and felt…well…greasy. I did think the bars themselves had a peculiar texture; not quite greasy but bordering on it. Anyway, with my method of washing I have to let the clothes soak, but after looking at it and debating with myself for five minutes I decided not to risk it. I expected low suds, but not something that looked like the Exxon Valdez had just sailed through. Any ideas on what the problem might be?

***RE: Ivory Snow… I was happy with my aforementioned “homemade” mix until I discovered that Proctor & Gamble (makers of Ivory Snow) allegedly test on animals.; cruelty I can’t knowingly support by purchasing their products.

Ivory Soap July 27, 2009 at 9:21 am

HUH! Weird. There shouldn’t be any fat left. It should all be saponified. Did you see oil on the water? If you had too much base in there, it feels slippery too.

ashley September 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Can you give your Lye source? I called Hubbard’s Hardware on Summer and he said it was taken off the shelves because it’s used in dope making. Who knew!!
I found the Lye Guy online, but I think he ships from way up North.

Ivory Soap September 10, 2009 at 11:22 am

@Ashley-I recently used snowdriftfarm.com

Cambree December 24, 2009 at 7:08 am

I finally made my first soap using lard. I used hot process (cooked it in my crockpot). I also added other oils too.

The only problem I find is that the smell is a bit off. I wonder if it’s because my lard was at least 6 months old! I’m hoping the smell will fade soon. Otherwise I may re-cook it and add lots of fragrance oil and use as household liquid soap.

Btw, I like your choice of mold too.

Kat December 31, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Thanks, guys!

Ingrid February 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

About lye and the dangers of it. Not terribly long ago every rural home used it to make their own soap. They used to make their own lye from the ashes of their fires. The stuff IS dangerous; my great-uncle was blinded in one eye when he got splashed by a drop of it. But you never heard reformers calling for an end to its use. You never saw protective gear wear while making soap in their kitchens. I think most people back then understood lye and used common sense when working with it. (Except for my great-grandmother. Children should never have been near enough where she was making soap to get splashed.) Using a little knowledge and responsible common sense will let you handle lye safely.

The guy at the hardware store where I buy my lye showed me a nasty wound on his arm he got from splashing lye drain cleaner on his arm. You don’t have to get hurt like that from lye. He didn’t know what my chemistry teacher taught me, so he didn’t take care of it properly. It’s very easy to understand. Lye is a kind of chemical called a “base.” It’s a very strong base and can eat at skin like a strong acid can. But you don’t have to be afraid. Bases and acids instantly neutralize or “kill” each other, so just keep an acid like vinegar or lemon juice on hand to rub onto skin that got lye or lye mixture on it. Chlorine bleach is another base and has the same slippery feel lye does. (Yes, I’ve gotten it on my hands and no, they didn’t fall off. 🙂 ) The vinegar will remove that slipperiness because it turns the base into something as harmless as water. I get little splatters of lye on my hands and forearms sometimes. I keep a sponge soaked with vinegar on the counter by my sink and wipe down my skin when I feel a splash.

Lye and water come together with a chemical reaction that releases a lot of heat energy. You always want to add the lye granules to the water, not the other way around. The water body you measured out is big enough to absorb the heat without bursting into steam. It just gets very warm. If you try to pour the water into the dry lye, the tiny amount of water that first touches the lye won’t be big enough and it WILL burst into a cloud of poison-carrying steam. Please don’t experiment with this!

If you like, you can take safety precautions:
1. Mix the lye into the water in an area with good ventilation. My kitchen fan vents outdoors so I do it under the fan with it turned on high.
2. Wear long sleeves or rubber gloves. If you get enough lye on your sleeve to wet it, remove it immediately and use the vinegar. Put the shirt where kids and pets can’t get to it.
2. If you don’t wear gloves or sleeves, keep that vinegar or lemon juice handy.
3. If you wear glasses, wonderful. If you don’t, consider safety glasses or be very careful not to splash in your face.
4. This might not seem obvious, but if you have to leave the lye water unattended, put a not on it, saying what it is. It will look like innocent water and may get mixed in with food.
I’m not at all afraid of handling lye, even after what happened to my great-uncle but I do treat it with respect and I’ve never been hurt or hurt anyone else.

Arlene February 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

Question about safety…is it safe to use pots/utensils for food after using it to make lye soap? I’d love to try this but not sure if I need a designated soap pot and spoon. Thanks

Ivory Soap February 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Arlene, yes you can reuse the utensils. Run them through the dishwasher and your all good.

tentfire March 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Just a quick tip. Once the oils were melted, they should have been transferred to a “non-metal” container before the lye was added. Lye can have a really bad reaction with metal and it will ruin your whole batch of soap.
I love this small batch break down!

Donna March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Where can I buy Lye at also how does it come liquid or powder?

brandi April 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I just made my first batch. And…ummm….maybe I did something wrong???? It is not white. It is a light mauvy pinkish. And it got very thick, very fast after I put in the lye mixture. It went from liquid to cookie dough consistancy in about 5 seconds! Maybe I let the lye mixture cool off too much?? I followed the instructions very carefully (so I thought), and even used my digital scales to carefully measure everthing. I put it in the mold and we will see how it turns out. Any suggestions?

Ivory Soap May 7, 2010 at 6:37 am

That’s a head scratcher. I haven’t ever had that happen. Well, the only time I’ve had it go to mashed potatoes on me is when everything was still too hot. I accidentally ‘hot processed’ my soap, which makes a clearer-ish gummy eraser consistency.

Lisa Bee November 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I made my first (and second through fifth) batch of soap a few days ago. I had bought a 6 pound can of Crisco at Costco, but then only one of my recipes called for it, so I had 5 pounds of Crisco left. I made up a batch of soap based on your recipe, except that I scaled it up to use up the 5 pounds of Crisco. My soap is veeeery soft. It’s been several days and it’s still sort of the consistency of fudge. All my other batches of soap have hardened up. Any idea what’s wrong with my Crisco soap?

Angie July 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hey there, this is the BEST SOAP RECIPE that I’ve found! Thanks for sharing!
Would 2 weeks be enough time to cure?

Ivory Soap July 3, 2012 at 6:10 am

Might need a little longer. I’ve tossed mine in the dehydrator before to speed it up.

Angie July 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Thanks so much! 🙂

Muzhik September 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

@Lisa Bee, I realize it’s been almost 2 years since you left your note, but I thought I’d answer it in case someone else wanted to try the same thing.

1. DON’T use tap water! You don’t know what minerals, chemicals, etc. are in the water. The lye could react with whatever is in there, and throw off the chemical reaction that makes soap. Buy a gallon of distilled water and use that.

2. Always use an accurate scale and measure out everything. “6oz water” means 6 ounces by weight, not by your measuring cup.

3. It’s not a good idea to double (or triple, etc.) the size of a batch by just doubling all of the amounts. Weigh out the amount of fat you’re going to use (Crisco, lard, Uncle Billy’s liposuction — remember “Fight Club”?) then use a soap calculator (there are several available online) to recalculate the amount of water and lye you’ll need. Do a Google search for “soap calculator” and you’ll find several that will tell you exactly what you’ll need.

4. Allow at least 4 weeks for your soap to cure. After it’s firmed up, cut it or pop it out of the mold and set the bars on a kitchen rack — the kind used to cool cookies, etc. Put the rack with the bars in a cool, dry, dark place and let them set. While they’re setting, the small bits of lye and fat that didn’t convert earlier will find each other and finish converting into soap. This will also firm up the soap, making it harder. If you’re going to make olive oil soap, plan on spending at least an hour stirring the fat and lye before it reaches trace, and letting the soap cure at least 6 weeks.

Lisa Bee, I suspect your problem with the consistency was a) using tap water instead of distilled, or b) a problem with ratios when you increased the size of the batch. It’s also possible you didn’t stir it long enough to really come to trace. After a couple of days, if it is still “fudgey”, you can melt it down and use it to make laundry soap.

Regarding the safety of lye, just remember to wear gloves, wear goggles, KEEP KIDS AND PETS OUT OF YOUR SOAPMAKING AREA, and keep a spray bottle of vinegar at hand. The danger with lye is that you don’t feel it burning you at first. That’s because it’s busy converting the fat in your skin to soap. So Respect the lye. And Have Fun!

His Crazy White Woman April 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

can a dehydrator be used to dry/cure the soap faster…

Daisy April 11, 2013 at 6:03 am

HCWW–Yes, Deanna has done that and reports it works fine and makes the house smell great.

Melinda February 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

I’ve used the water from our dehumidifier instead of buying distilled water. The results were just fine.

Ashley January 2, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Hi, I just made this recipe and weighed them out on a good digital scale. I used lard predominantly and about .5 to 1 oz of shortening because i didnt have the full 16 ounces of lard. I followed protocol. I did wait until the lye was at about 100 degrees and the oil was at about 115 or 120.. I tried to keep it in a good range. I just didnt wait because i didnt want the lye to go under 100 degrees F. So I reached trace and poured it in a silicone mold. It has been a couple hours and it hasnt hardened yet. I am worried I did it wrong.. How long does it take for the lard soap to harden?

Daisy January 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

Ashley–It usually takes overnight. Has it hardened yet?

Alison March 17, 2015 at 5:55 pm

What is the ratio of lard to water to lye? We process our own lard from the pigs we process so my lard supply can vary

Daisy March 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

Alison–The best I can say is to recommend a lye calculator. Have you ever visited the MMS site? The link is https://www.thesage.com/calcs/LyeCalc.html

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