I mentioned a while back that I had tweaked my laundry detergent recipe to make it even cheaper.

Well, here goes.

The actual recipe is so easy to remember, it’s the identification of each powder that was difficult for me. Maybe because it took me 2 years before labeling each of the jars? I’m pretty much a genius when it comes to those things.

It’s just 2 to 1 parts, soap to other ingredients.  So if you do 1 cup soap, throw in 1/2 cup Borax, Washing Soda, & OxyClean. Once mixed, use 2 tbls per load.

The soap is what changed. You can’t buy soap flakes off the shelf anymore (which I think is a conspiracy, but I think everything is a conspiracy right now. I can’t go for a jog 9 mos pregnant? Conspiracy. I can’t make it through the night without eating a meal at 2am? Conspiracy.) So I’ve had to buy the flakes either off ebay or through a distribution center based in Michigan that imports them from England. Tell me how this is cost-effective.

Then I discovered that Ivory soap is the most similar to boxed soap flakes due to it being almost (sigh) made out of 100% vegetable oil.

Hey, not to change the subject, but see those flowers on the coffee table?

My sister-in-law picked those from her garden for me! I love what fresh flowers does to a room: instant class.

And looking at our coffee table, we need that. The basket on the left (which I think is a rice steamer, actually) is really our junk drawer, believe it or not. In front of everyone. You walk in – bam! Junk. That’s how we roll, folks.

The chest we bought randomly on our way home from Nebraska one year. We squeezed it into R’s Honda Civic and scraped the ground all the way back.

The year was unknown, but when we had it re-stained, the guy went on and on about the top piece. It was a single piece of wood indicating that it came from a tree that wide. Really old, he said. I’d take it on Antiques Roadshow, but I know they’d yell at me for re-staining it. I can just hear them, “I really wish the original patina were still on it.” And then my heart would break because I do want the Roadshow folks to be my friends. Nevermind the worth, just be proud of how well I’ve taken care of something.

Ah, well. We love the dark color.

It’s where we house our blankets and sleeping bags for now. Probably a future junk drawer waiting to happen, though.

But back to the exciting stuff: Ivory soap. No shipping costs and occasionally I get a coupon in the paper for it. Score!

I really need a good food processor. Instead, I diced up the soap curls as small as possible.

Then stored  it until ready to use!

I diced up 3 bars worth of soap and it almost reached the top of the jar. Good deal.

The ingredients I buy more frequently than others is a) soap and b) washing soda. That you can buy on the shelf. The borax and Oxyclean just keeps going and going.

I’ve never done the cost breakdown on it all, I really should. I’ll just approximate from what I have.  I buy washing soda about once a year ($3.00), soap once a year ($15.00 for the imported soap flakes withOUT shipping. $4.00 for 8 bars of Ivory soap, coupon used), Borax once every 2+ years – still using from the original box ($3.00), and Oxyclean once every 2+ years – still using from the original box ($18 for 14lb box from Sam’s Club. It was difficult to justify spending that much money up front, but look how long it has lasted!)

So, with the imported flakes I would spend around $28.50 a year. Probably less than that, because I’m still using the Borax & Oxyclean from original purchase. With Ivory soap I’ve cut it to $17.50. We’ll see how this changes with a little one and more laundry loads.

I really just like having all the ingredients on hand. I don’t have to time my run to the store with how many loads I have left in the bottle. I can just whip up a new batch whenever needed.

And it does give you an excuse to buy a vintage tin for storage – Hurray!

Have a great weekend!

Bath Soap

I’ve been on a mission for the past year now: to learn new skills and find out what I can make I on my own. It makes me feel connected to the past when I do this. Connected in a way that antique stores and period-piece movies can’t quite capture.

Besides, if Netflix’s movie suggestions for me continue to be Historical Drama featuring a Strong Female Lead, then I better act the part.

If I could be any super hero, it would be a farm woman wearing a floured apron, who kills bad people by spraying paralyzing liquid on them from a well-pump. I guess there’d have to be a well-pump every 10 feet in order for that to work. Unless I invent a portable well that I carry on my back, then flip the pump over my shoulder like a machine gun and pump… pump… pump.. (“just wait right there, bad person, I’m almost ready“) pump… pump..

But I’m not.

I do have their forearms though.

So my next task was making bath soap. I felt comfortable with bread and dry washing detergent, so why not bath soap?

Oh, I remember. LYE. The scary powder that can burn you in a millisecond as soon as water hits it.

I was scared. But I donned those blue gloves over my farm forearms anyway and let it rip. Hey, what did I have to lose? Except for maybe some skin burnt off? Big deal.

I didn’t realize how relatively easy soap making is. Time consuming, but simple. You basically heat up oils and cool the lye until they are the same temperature. Then mix! Are you surprised? I was.

The recipe I used were from these posts on Down To Earth. Ah, love that woman. Her calm writing has helped me through all my bread drama, so I knew I’d be in good hands.

You spend an hour or so mixing and waiting, as well as hoping that “a ventilated area” really means a dorm room with a barely working stove fan.

Neither of my batches came out correctly and I’ll tell you why. On the first batch, I was pretty lazy with the measurements. In cooking I sometimes just throw things in the pan (especially when it comes to adding oil). But with soap you need to be on the money.

And I wasn’t. So the oil to lye ratio was off and the soap dried extremely fast. Too fast for me to cut it, even. Instead I had to break it apart.

On the second batch, the timing of the temperature was wrong. Because I knew from the previous experience that lye cools relatively slowly, I put the oils on the backburner. Literally. To the point that when I realized the lye was getting close to the right temperature, I cranked that burner with the oils up high. They heated up too fast and too high and could never cool down to the same temp as the lye.

Before the lye got too cool, I combined them and the mixture never acheived “trace.” You’ll hear that word thrown around a lot. It’s just the point in mixing where you can see little ripples on the mixture…and they stay on top of the mixture.

Anyway, so this batch hasn’t completely hardened yet. And it has been two months. I’m just scooping it out in balls and using it in that manner.

Here are the two batches. The first is the browner-looking soap and the second is the cream-colored one. I added peppermint fragrance to the second one which is a nice shot of ‘wake up!!‘ in the morning. Can you see how smooth and hard the first batch is and how the second looks like you could mush it with your finger?

I’m sure I’ll get better each time and I can’t wait to try out different recipes.

Forearm Farm – signing off.

Homemade Laundry Soap

I’ve started making my own laundry soap.
I’ve also ordered tools online to make my own bath & dish soap, so this is my baby step toward that direction.
To be honest, I started making this because it gave me an excuse to go find antique jars in which to store the powders.
If you would like the recipe for this, please go to a blog I read called Down to Earth (listed to the right), but I will give you the link here.