Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bison Soap

Today I made my first ever batch of soap. My brother took a soapmaking class a number of months ago so he guided me through the process. First I looked for a recipe using bison fat but couldn't find one. I guess not many people get their hands on bison fat these days. Meanwhile my brother and I have 5-gallon buckets full. :)

I substituted beef fat when looking up how much lye to use. Hopefully I calculated it correctly. It's something you really don't want to mess around with. If your lye to fat ratio is wrong then you might end up with a chemical burn like Ed Norton in Fight Club. I had the balsamic vinegar standing by just in case.

The recipe I created was:
  • 1 cup rendered bison fat
  • 60.8 grams lye
  • 1/3 cup water
  • paprika added generously for color
  • ~ 1 teaspoon vanilla essential oil for scent
One cup of rendered bison fat from the bison we butchered.

I weighed the lye crystals on the coffee filter carefully using the electronic scale. Then I mixed them into the bowl with 1/3 cup of water on the right. The water and lye reacted chemically and heated up.

Meanwhile I melted the bison fat and started monitoring the temperature of both the fat and the lye mixture.

It took some jockeying to get both temperatures to drop to 98 degrees at the same time. I ended up chilling and reheating the fat, but eventually I zeroed in on the target temperature. Once the temperature of the fat and the lye were both around 98 degrees I poured the lye into the fat and mixed.

I stirred for about 10-15 minutes to fully mix the lye with the fat. As it cooled it started to thicken. Once a drip from the spoon lingered on the surface of the mixture I knew it was time to pour.

I quickly mixed in the paprika and vanilla oil and then poured it into a plastic mold.

I'm kind of surprised at how much the ingredients made. Now I will let these set up for 3-4 days. Then I will knock them out and let them cure for 3 weeks. Hopefully the final products will not burn me.


fooiemcgoo said...

pretty sweet.

i'd like a lump for my birthday.

how does one render fat? is it boiled? does that make it last longer?

how does one get a hold of lye in a survival situation?

Sassmouth said...

I meant to do a post about fat rendering, but didn't get around to it yet. I'll do that sometime. Yes, you boil it and it should last indefinitely I think.

You get lye from wood ash. If you drip water through it, the water will contain the lye. I haven't done that yet, but would like to.

Bleach said...

Those are some pretty sweet carmel apples you made. Where are the nuts?

My Word verification is "blessesh"

Thanks and good night.

NWpodcast said...

very cool. have you tried the soap yet?

let us know!

Sassmouth said...

I finally tried the soap last week. It didn't burn me so that's good. The only problem is that it doesn't get very sudsy. I'd like to fix that with the next batch.

Emily Porter said...

If you are interested in experimenting sometime, I'd like to make soap with lye from wood ashes. I've tried and failed before, which always makes you want to do it that much more!

Sassmouth said...

Yeah, I do want to try lye from wood ash. I've been saving the ash from my wood stove to try it some time.