DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

8 December 2011

Cleaning up after making soap

I made soap again yesterday and it has given me a chance to reply to an email inquiry I had about a month ago. Jenine asked: "I was just wondering if maybe you could post or even just advise me on clean up after making the soap. I was a bit paranoid of making some chemical reaction from putting the bowl that had the lye in it, in the washing up water, or if there will be any reaction from washing the mixing bowl that I mixed the solution in with any other crockery or cutlery. I just washed everything in hot soapy water? I would appreciate any advise you could give me."

Firstly, as you're making the soap, when you pour the caustic/lye water into the oils, take 30 seconds to rinse out the measuring jug. You don't want to leave a jug that has traces of caustic soda/lye in it. Just a quick rinse will fix that. Also, before you start making soap, pour some cleaning vinegar onto a rag and leave it handy. If you spill or splash any caustic soda/lye, or any raw soap, just wipe it up with the vinegar rag.

When you're filling the soap moulds, make sure you use a spatula and scrape all the soap out of your mixing pot or bowl. Scrape off the mixer, spoons and jugs too. In fact anything that has been used in the soap making process should be scraped or wiped clean before washing so not too much raw soap goes down the drain.

Clean up straight away before the soap goes hard. If you need to use a cloth to clean up, such as around the blades of the mixer, use a rag. Let the rag sit for 24 hours to make sure the soap on it has cured a bit, and add it to the washing machine in your normal wash. When it's clean and dry, it can be used again just like any other rag.

I wash up by hand, so I scrape off everything I can, then fill the sink with hot water and add a good squirt of dishwashing liquid. The raw soap is fairly greasy at this point so you'll need to use a bit more than your usual amount of dishwashing liquid to cut through the grease. Add ½ cup of cleaning vinegar to the water to help neutralise the caustic soda/lye in the raw soap. There won't be much if you've been careful along the way but the vinegar will also help the water drain away well through the drain pipes. Clean everything thoroughly, carefully removing all traces of soap and rinse well. Then let it all dry on the dish drainer.



If you use a dishwasher, scrape and wipe off all the bowls, jugs and utensils, and place them in the dishwasher on a normal cycle.

One of the ways in which we can simplify our lives is to refuse to be sucked into buying new bits and pieces. Soap making is no exception. There is no need to buy a set of mixing bowls or a new mixer just for soap making. If you thoroughly clean every thing afterwards, whatever you use in your kitchen can be used for soap making too. You're cleaning raw soap off the bowls and mixer, not anything more sinister. Stainless steel and glass don't absorb anything. A good clean is all it needs and if you're unsure about the caustic soda/lye, add vinegar to your cleaning routine to neutralise it.

The baby chicks are due to hatch today! I didn't candle the eggs half way through so I'm not sure what to expect. I will be waiting with camera ready.

28 comments:

  1. Thank you Rhonda! I especially have a hard time cleaning my mixer because of the greasy raw soap. I had not tried adding vinegar to the water and will definitely be doing that next time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the post! I always wondered if you used bowls and spoons dedicated for only soap making when reading your previous posts!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

    ReplyDelete
  3. On the topic of soap making, can someone please clarify at what point does the soap become non caustic?, I'm assuming when it's hard, (and is this because of a further chemical reaction or something else?) because that's when you can use it, but some sites say let it harden for 2 weeks others say 6 weeks. How do we know when it is truly safe to start using?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is safe to use right away, but the hardening time (called curing) is required to let excess water evaporate from the bar, making a harder, more mild bar.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for this post Rhonda, something as simple as how to clean up can be the stumbling block against having a go at soap making or not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for your tips Rhonda, I hadn't thought of using a rag with vinegar to help clean up.
    Will be making soap again tomorrow hopefully.
    Best wishes Bridget

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very well done tutorial, Rhonda... you are such a valuable resource for practical advice that can be hard to find elsewhere.

    I'm excited to hear about your chick hatch. Hope they are all "girls!" :o)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Rhonda,

    Making soap is still on my list of household crafts to learn. I hope to try it this summer. Every time I read about your soapmaking, I sigh thinking surely I will do it soon.

    Can't wait to hear about the new little chickies!!

    Diane in North Carolina

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hope the chickens arrive safely - we are doing well with eggs at the moment 12 eggs most days from 13 hens. Just as well we have family and friends close to help us eat all the eggs.

    Rhonda that is exactly what I had figured out with your soap making recipe - that it is soap . What I use in the soap saver to wash up non greasy dishes anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I do have seperate bowls, mixing spoons etc for making soap but it all came from the second hand shop or was surplus from my kitchen. I mix my soap outside as I have a large outdoor table which is perfect for these types of activites. My soap making equipment is packed into a large plastic tub with a tight fitting lid and lives in the shed. I pick up the tub and I know everything I need is in it including safety glasses and plastic tablecloth. It works for me. If you do make soap outside make sure animals can't get to your soap, remember its caustic!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thankyou so much for this post Rhonda. I made my first few batches of soap just recently and was almost scared to do anything when it came time to clean up. I wiped everything off and left it in the laundry sink for a couple of days till I thought it was safe to 'go in there'! Also, if anyone has a bamix stick blender - don't use it to make soap. I did and it was a BIG mistake - the base of it reacted and the metal turned black and horrible - I was devastated - Bamix aren't cheap - Thankfully I found out the base could be easily replaced and it wasn't too expensive! I have since bought a cheaper stick blender for soap making.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Terrific questions and great tips. I can't wait to get back to making soap!

    ReplyDelete
  12. busy mum of 3, saponification is usually complete within 48 hours or when the soap is well and true hard. People generally advise curing the soap for a couple of weeks, this is for it to dry out more because the less water in the soap when you use it, the longer it will last. You can check the pH level with strips you buy at the chemist if you want to check your soap but generally it's safe after a couple of days.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wasn't sure why you are concerned about the caustic mix going down the drains since caustic soda is often used to clear blocked drains. Is it because the mixture is greasy so could still block the pipes? Or is it because you have settling tanks which rely on beneficial bacteria?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm looking forward to seeing the baby chicks... they will be SO CUTE!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Mary, it's because the raw soap can build up in the drain pipes and if you make a lot of soap, that might cause a problem after a while. Also, the less additives that go down the drain pipe, the better.

    ReplyDelete
  16. thanks for the tips! I want to start making soap and I was actually wondering if I had to wash everything with vinegar afterwards... by the way, do you rinse the measuring jug (the first one, with the mix of soda and water inside) with vinegar? (it looks like i'm obsessed with vinegar right now!)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good luck with the chooks! Fingers crossed :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. earendil, no need to rinse with vinegar. Water will dilute it enough.

    Thanks quinn, they've stated hatching, :- )

    ReplyDelete
  19. I made your laundry liquid and shared on my blog. Really want to make some soap but need to buy a thermometer first!
    I featured you on my blog post again today... looking forward to your book!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just want to say if you have never hatched chicks before the due date we found on our little "farm" is a lot like a womans due date!!! So if they all don't hatch today do not assume the worst, and then crack them open in a few days to see what went wrong...like we did and then we were soooo sorry. After we learned our lesson we discovered the due date depending on weather? or something else could go 3 days earlier or later. Voice of (BAD) experiance. Karen USA

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for writing this 'clean up' post. I've held off attempting to make soap for fear I would have to buy separate utensils for the process. I'm feeling much more confidant now and looking forward to my first foray into home-made soap. Thanks for the helpful details. :-D

    Sorry to learn (later) that your chicks (and Mary) did not fare well. So sad for all involved. :-(

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rhonda, I do a little soap making (started not long ago) I do have seperate items just for soapmaking. I have two reasons 1) my toddler plays with my kitchen items, I was concerned if an item isn't cleaned and he puts it in his mouth it could cause an injury. 2) I have a little baby and while I don;t soap while the toddler is around, I do during the baby sleeps so that way if I haven't cleaned items and need them for cooking it is ok, most are just unused items from the kitchen.

    I sometime clean as I go, sometimes I wait. I geerally rinse/clean, lye water container, then fill a bucket with water and dump as I go. I have a silicon spatcula I use so get ot of the unsaponified batter out and if there is any left, I can generally scrape from the tops of the water dispose of then wash items.

    An interesting blog post re cleaning is on the lovin soap blog http://www.lovinsoap.com/2011/08/cleaning-up-after-a-soapy-session/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi i just found your soap makin grecipe from 2007 and wanna try it. do you have any suggestions for making soap suitable to wash hair with?

    also i want to make bar tooth soap that i can make into my own shavings(its rather expensive to buy) but i was wondering what ingredients i should leave out when doing this and when i can add EO flavouring/baking powder/xylitol...

    your input would be greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  24. By all means scrape all the good stuff off the pot and utensils you can but there will always be some left. To clean up, I've found it very easy to just let the things set for a day and then wash them making use of the residue to wash those things and other dishes. Nothing wasted.

    The problem with washing up right away is that the fats/oils are still fats/oils and don't wash off so easy. Just let them set a day and then wash. You might have to let it soak to soften the soap but it works out fine.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just taught my first class on how to make soap! And then, ironically, got really nervous about my cleaning up. Thank you for this post! I have been washing everything with vinegar, and afraid the PVC pipes in our home would be ate away with lye. Now, I think I'm safe on cleaning and reusing. But, I do wonder if you know if it can adversly affect our new pipes that are PVC from the kitchen?
    Thanks again! this was most helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I doubt there will be any damage on PVC pipes. Just do your washing up as recommended in the post and if you want to, add some cleaning vinegar to the sink of water and flush the pipes out.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This was very helpful. I wanted to make soaps for at least two years now, but I couldn't find much information about cleaning up after soap making. Thank you so much!!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...