Making Soap from Kitchen Grease

by Daisy

Thank you for visiting Little House in the Suburbs. If you like what you see, please SUBSCRIBE.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ivory, I don’t wanna to BUY fat to make my soap. I have plenty of fat in my grease can!” then this is the post for you.

So, how do we turn icky, blech-y, Mr. Ivory-should-be-ashamed-of-how-much-bacon-he-eats kitchen grease into glorious, bubbly, clean soap?

a. Put half fat, half-ish water in a pan and bring it to a boil.

b. Remove from heat, stir, and add about ½ as much COLD water as before cooking. (I had a coffee cup of fat, and added a coffee cup of water to boil, so I added a half a cup of cold water at this step.)

c. Let it cool till the fat floats and is scoopable onto a plate. (Fridge or freezer speeds it up. Just don’t accidentally defrost your chicken breasts, K?)

d. If it still seems a little blech to you, do it again. I did.

(Cleaner second time, no?)

2. Weigh and melt fat.

3. Sprinkle the lye into the water and swirl.

[As I mentioned previously, the lye calculators say that for one pound of lard-ish fat, you need 6 ounces of water and 2 ounces of lye–I had 3/4 of a pound of grease after washing, so I needed 4.5 ounces of water (3/4 of 6 oz) and 1.5 ounces of lye (3/4 of 2 oz­). ]

4. Wait till both are not smoldering hot and pour lye solution into the fat.

5. Blend with immersion blender.

6. Stop when you can see where you’ve been. (called “trace”)

6b. This is the time to put in the fragrance, if you wish.

7. Pour into custom built soap mold. (HA!)

Let it sit a day and peel off the carton, slice, and cure for a few weeks.

Waa-laa! Soap. Any residual pork rind-y smells will be GONE when it cures.

**Note to self, if the economy goes to heck in a hand-basket, check crystal ball three weeks ahead so that soap will already be cured when the big one hits.

Self-Proclaimed Recycling Queen of October 2008—

Ivory

SAFETY REMINDER: Lye is caustic–See our discussion of and links to safety for soapmaking here.

PS: Welcome Stumblers: Thank you for dropping by! If you liked this post, we’d appreciate your stumbles. You might also enjoy future posts on Little House in the Suburbs – so don’t forget to subscribe.

This post has been so popular that we put a rush on the follow-up post Like Bacon for Candles.



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

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo October 22, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Hi! I have something for you over at my blog, please take a look when you have a chance 🙂 Thanks!

Tomato Lady October 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

That is some groovy-lookin’ old time soap you got there grandma–I mean S-PRQ’08. Yer my soap hero. You still haven’t explained the significance of the ping pong/soaping table. Secret, hunh? I understand.

Patrice Farmer October 22, 2008 at 3:32 pm

I used to make soap and this is by far the easiest one, better than my Blender method. I need to try this because my soap-(I have severe allergies to fragrance)-cost me $2.99 for one bar. Thanks for posting this.

Amanda Thomsen October 22, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I have to try this, I’ve only ever used olive oil and thats expensive! Plus, then it didn’t have any bacon in it- and everything is better with bacon!

DayPhoto October 22, 2008 at 9:27 pm

What a good idea!

Thanks,

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Netta October 22, 2008 at 10:00 pm

This is excellent. Can you add fragrances if you wish? I’m passing this on to my daughter, because she loves bacon. 🙂

Ivory Soap October 23, 2008 at 1:14 am

Glad everyone is enjoying it. Ms. Thomsen is cracking me up! Everything IS better with bacon.

netta, you would add fragrance at ‘trace’ or ‘as soon as you can see where you’ve been.’ Put in some essential oil or what-have-you, blend it in for a sec, and pour it in the mold.

Ivory Soap October 23, 2008 at 1:16 am

Patrice Farmer,

Did you see the lard or crisco recipe. That’s even easier. No fat washing. It’s good to have complete control over ingredients. I use my homemade soaps as my shampoo, laundry detergent, body wash, etc. LOVE IT.

Mrs Mecomber October 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Outstanding post! I’ve got this one bookmarked, cuz the world just may be going to heck in a handbasket real quick like, eh? Gotta be clean…

Thanks for this post. I’d ben wondering how to do this.

Rebecca @ FreakyFrugalite.com

JessTrev October 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

Excellent! Now I know what to do with my grease can. Question – do you use the same immersion blender for your other food or does the lye make it unsafe?

Ivory Soap October 24, 2008 at 5:55 pm

jesstrev,

Yes, I reuse it.

After making the soap, I soak the business end of that puppy in tumbler of vinegar and water for a few minutes to let any stray lye in the cracks and crevices go ahead and react (i.e. do the acid/base jitterbug with my vinegar and turn to into water).

Then I wash the blender the same as if I’d made a shake.

It’s clean.

JessTrev October 24, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Thank you so very much! I already clean everything with vinegar so that’ll be a snap. Thanks for splainin the basic science to me. 😉

Annie October 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Making soap is so great! But I would really not recommend an immersion blender. That is a good way to burn the crap out of yourself with splashed lye or highly caustic uncured soap.

Tomato Lady October 25, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Thanks, Annie–you bring up a FABULOUS point. Safety first! Whenever using lye, goggles and gloves and protective clothing are a MUST! I am putting a link into this post to one of our previous posts in which we show our safety routine. Thank you so much!

PEPPERONI ICE CREAM October 25, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Why not make your own lye too?
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lye

Ivory Soap October 25, 2008 at 6:44 pm

pepperoni,

WOW. You try it and tell me how it goes. HA!

Ivory

Red Icculus October 26, 2008 at 11:50 am

Your soap mold is ingenious!

Ivory Soap October 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Red Icculus,

Thanks! I was hoping you’d like it!

Tammyais October 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I was so excited to find this post, I had been thinking about trying to make soap for a while now, then when I found this I decided to give it a try. But oh my goodness I didn’t realize how hard it is to find Lye. I have looked all over my local area up to 30 miles away and can not find it, so I’m gonna have to order it on line. Gonna do that tonight.

I make my own laundry detergent, so guess what soap I’m using next?

Thanks for the great post

Tammy

Al June 29, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Can you use any type of grease? Like hamburger grease and whatnot? I combine all different types of grease in my grease can.

Ivory Soap June 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Mine too. It just got to be called the ‘bacon soap’ after it went crazy on the net. Any grease will do.

Nicole July 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

I MADE SOAP!!!!! My first batch was made this Friday and I am hooked I am now trolling my friend for their grease jars. I made mine with grapefruit essential oil. It looks cool and smells yummy. Is this stuff safe to use on skin? Any try adding herbs to this stuff? This is so exciting! :o)

Ivory Soap July 13, 2009 at 7:46 am

@nicole–It is safe for skin, but it probably won’t be a very satisfying bathing experience. It won’t be very bubbly without a lot of lathering. Try it out and tell me how it goes.

BTW, All cured soap is safe for skin. Wait about a month before using on skin. You can use it in laundry soap immediately, though.

Nicole July 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I didn’t even last a few days I made another batch on Sunday. This time with oils I had around the place and a bottle of salad seasonings ground fine and some lemon essential oil. A month? I thought it was three weeks. The wait to try it out is killing me! I am completely hooked. Thanks for making me junior scientist. Ladies you had me doing algebra, I loathe math,but I did it for soap. love ya ladies!!!

lorrwill August 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Sweet! I am not the only one embarking on home made laundry soap so therefore, you have to make the soap, too.

Thanks for breaking this down and making it not scary sounding at all. Gotta try it as soon as I can gather the ingredients.

Ivory Soap August 6, 2009 at 8:26 am

Not scary. You’ll be surprise how much drama surrounds soap-making once you try it. It’s not a big deal.

Maria September 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Dear Ivory,
My first batch of soap was a complete disaster. Then I learnd kitchen grease needs to be “washed” I didn’t know exactly HOW, until I found you :’ )
So I read that kitchen grease can also rancid?? I have some sitting over a year now, is that still good to use? or should I just boil it with water several times. Thankx so much!!

Ivory Soap September 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

@Maria I’d just boil it a few times and see what you get. Has it been sitting out the whole time or in the fridge?

Maria September 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Hmmm I never thought of storing it in the fridge, would that be better? Because mine is always out. Anf thanks for your help!

glenda September 30, 2009 at 6:15 am

i really want to try this but i’m not comfortable keeping lye in my house because i have children. is there any way to make this without the lye in it? thanks for this!! in this economy we need to do what we can to save money!!

Carol Belle November 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I’m boiling as I type! <3

Maria January 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I finally got it! My used grease is always stored in the fridge. Then I just boil , let cool, put in the fridge, then scoop and use. It doesn’t smell yeeppeee.

Angela February 25, 2010 at 10:54 am

This didn’t work out the first time I tried it; measurements are important! I need a better scale. But, I have another scale and am hoping to have better luck this weekend.

random stumbleupon user March 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Hey, that word you used, waa-laa? What you actually want to use is the french, voila. It means, “look here.” Waa Laa is really, really, ridiculously wrong.
Thanks.

john May 31, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Well, I just finished my first batch and I’m skeptical. I followed the directions and after a while of stirring with a hand held mixer, I didn’t get much trace at all. My mold is a muffin tin lined with saran wrap. I filled the molds and put it in the freezer. All I can think of is too much water. I added as much bacon grease as I had left into the mix. Hope for the best, expect the worst and see what happens I guess.

Regina June 15, 2010 at 1:10 am

This does sound so easy and not as scary as some soap-making places that have popped up on the friendly search engine. I have the same question as Glenda…..Is there another way to do this without using lye?

Thank you for sharing:)

Jodi July 30, 2010 at 6:43 pm

You need the lye to make soap. It is a chemical reaction that creates the soap. Natural soap has glycerine in it which is good for your skin. Lye needs to be respected. Good ventelation(sp) and use gloves and goggles. Don’t do it when your children are home if you are concerned about them getting into it. I send mine someplace with their father during the winter or in summer they go to garage sales that gives me time to do what I need to do. I have 2 containers in my home. One is on top of my cupboard and the other is in a can jammed into my linen closet. Both are in their original plastic containers and my children know they are not to touch my soap making kit. Have fun and be safe and 3 to 6 weeks goes by quickly.

Hope October 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Can you store the rendered fat in the fridge, or freezer..until you’re ready to make soap?

Trish February 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I have been making my own soap for about two or three years and we love it. I use bacon/hamburger grease and will also go to the meat department at the local grocer and ask for fat scraps (beef or pork). They usually give them to me at no cost. (If you do this, it is kind to take in a bar or two of soap for the butchers for thier trouble). I like keeping things simple but making soap isn’t really all that simple, though it’s becomes just as easy as making a recipe from scratch after a while. When I render solid fats (from the butcher) I put it in a large pot with a cup or two of water and just boil and occasionally mash with a potato masher until you get as much liquid fat as you can to boil down. It doesn’t look like it will boil down at first but you will be surprised. I got nearly a large coffee can full the last time I rendered fat, though I’m not sure what the original weight of the scraps was. I prefer beef fat (tallow) because to me the pork fat (lard) stinks up the house. 😉 both make a good soap (that doesnt smell like beef or pork) and when I use a “soap calculator” or “lye calculator” off the net I just put it in the tallow or lard catagory, because usually I have it mixed. Once the soap is liquid, very carefully pour it into another pan through a few layers of cheese cloth or panty hose to strain it. I add a little more water, bring it back up to a boil and then let it cool (in fridge or on a cold day outside) overnight. Take a sharp knife and slice it like a pie and pick the chunks off the water, sometimes there are little bits on the bottom, you can scrape them off. The nice thing about pork is that the water turns to a gel and the fat comes right off easily. When rendering the store fat, I also put bacon and hamburger greese in with it that I have saved and kept in the freezer. Once you’re done with it you can store it back in the freezer and use what you need for your recipe.

I also use used oils that I use for frying, like the peanut oil we used frying a turkey for Thanksgiving. You don’t put this with your fat though, you just strain it good and use it in your recipe. Peanut oil helps make it more conditioning for your skin. I also often use Palm oil (found cheap at asian stores) which helps create a better lather. If you use these for frying, don’t mix them with one another, so that when you do your soap you will know which oil to put in the lye calculator. My favorite recipe uses about 30 oz of lard/tallow, and 6-8 oz each of peanut and palm. I also use about a Tbsp of fine ground (like flour) of oatmeal which is nice for the skin, and some essential oils for fragrance. It’s not necessary though (Like Ivory said, these go in at trace).

For safety make sure you never ever ever pour water into the lye. Always pour the lye crystals into the water. Pouring water into lye can cause a dangerous volcano effect. Also always use cold water and keep a spray bottle of vinegar around to nuteralize the lye in case you get it on your skin. Note: When blending, keep the blender part under the liquid and it won’t splash, but safety is important so I always use goggles and gloves.

Thanks for your info Ivory. It’s a great tute. I keep thinking about getting one put on my site, but haven’t gotten around to it. Glad someone else has… 😉

Nicole S February 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hi, Ivory,

I wanted to let you know that making lye is embarassingly, RIDICULOUSLY easy. Years ago I wanted to try it out and found an old, old cookbook at a yardsale. Believe it or not, it had recipes for making bread and the like in woodstoves… as well as making soap and lye. Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Never had a batch go bad yet. I looked on the internet and found a decent link for you if you would like to try it: http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_ashlye.html.
I checked out the directions, and they are exactly what I have been doing for years.

Like you said earlier, “..drama surrounds soap.” Well, the same goes for lye, too. Good luck!

momof5 August 6, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hey – love this! I haven’t tried to make soap yet, but do render all of my pork fats for lard (yes! I said the “L” word!). Throw in a bit of baking soda, 1/4 – 1/2 a tsp. for a small amount, while you are rendering the fat. It turns the fat snow white and kills any odor whatsoever!

Lela September 10, 2011 at 9:44 am

Not to insult you but if you soak your burner pans in water with a tad of lye (outside) they will come clean. Or you can spray them with “oven cleaner” several times and it will work, it has a small amount of lye too.

Princess October 9, 2011 at 9:04 am

nice post, I’m a newbie in making soap. I will def. use your technique to make some kitchen soap when I gather enough kitchen fat. =D Thanx for the tip.

marian hayes July 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

What does Lye stand for.

Kathy S July 20, 2012 at 6:46 am

Has anyone found a homemade soap for washing dishes that works like dawn? I make my own bath soap and laundry soap but can not find a good grease cuter for dishes.

BMaeFace September 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hi Ivory. This all sounds so interesting. I have made lots of soap with olive oil and such. I just fried hamburgers and wondered what I could do with the grease. Now I know. Ivory, does your soap float? Just wondered. Thanks for all the info and tips everyone.

Muzhik October 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm

@Kathy S, the problem with finding a homemade dish soap like Dawn is that Dawn is a detergent, not a soap: it’s artificial. As such, it’s going to have surficants and other chemicals that aren’t available for soaps.

Will December 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

When you say 2oz. Of lye per pound of fat. Is that weight or volume?

Daisy December 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

Will–Weight!

Shawn Woodell April 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

The grease I have is liquid when cold. It is in my fryer. Can I use that to boil it? or does it have to be solid or mushy?

Melissa April 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I didn’t see the answer to this anywhere else on here, and I’ll risk sounding stupid, but I’ll ask anyway. Doesn’t boiling the water and fat together make a huge mess with popping oil everywhere? I tried a recipe for making liquid soap (from scratch) that had me boiling water and oil together and it exploded everywhere and was very scary. I just don’t want to repeat that again. It was traumatic.
Otherwise, I can’t wait! I’m making my brother in law some soap for his birthday because he loves bacon and he’d be happy to know none of it was being wasted 🙂

acr May 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Melissa – I have been making soap for years and I have rendered my own cow fat into tallow.

I see several problems with the author’s instructions. It looks like she is using a smallish pot. I use a deep stock pot. Also, the boiling water is unnecessary. When you clean fat (which is what the author is doing), you simply want the fat to be melted. Boiling is unneccesary. Here’s what I do:
Heat roughly equal portions of fat and water in a deep pot. You don’t have to be precise. When the fat is melted, put the pot in the freezer. Fat floats, so you will end up with a layer of fat on top and a layer of water beneath. The stuff you are trying to get rid if will be in the water and also on the bottom of the fat cake. Discard the water and scrape off the bottom of the fat cake. Then I wrap the fat cake in a paper towel and put it in the freezer. I like to use a paper towel so any water remaining in the fat cake can dissipate.

Marie May 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I used your instructions, but my soap seems to be too slimy. What should I do differently next time?

Thanks

AnieW November 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Great idea! I hate discarded the fat I collect.

Erica Sullivan June 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Hi there!
I just followed your instructions for rendering bacon grease and for making soap and it turned out great! I write a blog about all kinds of domestic/homesteading/random things, and I am working on a post about my experience making soap. I really want to give due credit for the instructions and also maybe bump some of my readers over to you! (its a small number, but still). Let me know if I can link to you 🙂
Thanks,
Erica

Daisy June 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Erica Sullivan–Glad it turned out! Sure, links are good.

dawn conner January 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm

I hope the ‘website’ info you wanted was where I saw this, ’cause that’s what I typed. ANY way, DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT put a really hot kettle or anything hot for that matter in your fridge/freezer. you fridge uses the freezer to stay cold. that’s how they work. if you upset the mechanics of the freezer w/ the heat from a hot kettle or ANYTHING HOT youre going to hurt your fridge/freezer. you need to wait til ‘whatever’ cools all the way down before putting it away to get really cold or frozen. wait til winter to do you soap, and stick it out on the front porch and let it freeze and/or cool all the way to cold. believe me you don’t want to have to call the repair man and tell him what you did to your freezer and then pay him X amount $100 for that repair job. especially not sears. they screwed me over a fridge that was still under warranty.

Pat February 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Can I use chicken and turkey fats collected after roasting? Can I mix fats from pork, bacon, beef, fowl when making soap or must it all be separate?

Daisy February 8, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Pat–I think animal fat is pretty much lard by any other name. Mixing is fine.

Gregg May 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Hello, Daisy.

I started making soap about seven years ago and have never looked back. I started making soaps with various types of oils and used an on-line soap calculator to determine the correct blends. I found your Kitchen Grease recipe about three years ago and, with one minor change (fresh pork fat), have been making wonderful soap since then.

I get ten pounds of pork fat from our local grocery store butcher. I render it down over about 8 hours in a slow cooker and then boil it a couple of times to yield about five pounds of wonderfully clear fat stock.

I use quart sized milk cartons (former whipping cream used as our coffee creamer) as my molds. When mixing the ingredients I wait until I reach trace before I add essential oils for fragrance and I end up with amazingly hard soap that produces perfect foam, cleanliness and soft skin.

Thank you so much for posting this easy and practical recipe!

Gregg May 5, 2016 at 2:12 pm

I forgot to mention – the pork fat is free. 🙂

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: