I’ve been thinking recently and writing about the number of products we have at home and think nothing about at all – if we run out we simply remember to buy some next time we go to the shop. Not only can we just go out and buy them, but we have choice! Size, price, quantity, colour, scent, flavour… whatever. I appreciate we are very lucky and most fortunate compared to others today. In the past many things could not just be bought but had to be made – even things such as… soap! Now we can have hard soap, liquid soap, soap in all manner of dispensers and packaging and soap for different uses too.
A hundred and fifty years ago, in Australia, here may have been soap available in stores in towns and cities, but many people did not have easy access to such ‘luxuries’ and would have had to make their own.
Here is a recipe for soap… It would have made a large quantity, and I daresay because it doesn’t seem a pleasant thing to have made that was an advantage – to make it only every so often! Maybe this would be a recipe a store-keeper or his wife would have used, or maybe a group of neighbours would have come together. However, as it used ‘strained grease’ (I’m guessing animal fat left over from cooking) I have to wonder how that smelt after a few months! Whoever wrote the recipe had never actually trialled it ‘the following is said to be a good recipe‘… The lye referred to is an alkaline solution used for washing in the past…
Soap making -The following is said to be a good recipe :- Six pounds washing soda, 6lbs. strained grease, 3½lb. new stone lime, 3lb. borax, four gallons soft water. Put soda, lime, and water into a large kettle, boil till all is dissolved, stand to settle ; when quite clear pour the clear lye into a clean vessel, throwing away the lime sediment; wash out the kettle, put back the clear lye, adding grease and borax; boil until the mixture becomes soapy, or about two hours (if boiling fast), then pour into shallow pans or boxes until next day, when it can be cut into square pieces and put away until dry. For soft soap, when boiled pour into a tub or barrel, and stir it slowly about six or eight quarts of water; it will become a white jelly.
I have to say when we were in Australia last year there were some wonderful soaps available and I brought home a lot as gifts of Blue Rocks Soap for friends and family! Here is what I wrote about them: