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Old school soap making, no lye

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by ditch witch, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder

    The first archaeological record of soap making comes from around 5000 years ago. The ancient Babylonians made soap by using wood ash to alkaline water and mixing in fats. Prior to this, everyone was just nasty.

    Actually it's believed that as far back as 12,000 BC or more people would grab a handful of soapwort leaves and use that to scrub themselves. Saponaria, aka Soapwort, aka Bouncing Bett, is a hardy perennial that blooms pink flowers all summer long. The leaves and roots are rich in saponins which produce a lather in water, and can be used in place of modern soap and detergent. The plant itself prefers well drained soil away from water but once established will practically take over. You can propagate soapwart the same way you do daylilies or iris, just lift and separate some rhizomes out, then go plant them somewhere else.

    There are a couple of ways to use soapwort for cleaning. In a pinch you can crush a few leaves and rub them on your hands, but if you have time there are better ways for a better end result. The end result being a frothy, soapy liquid as opposed to a hard bar of soap.

    Crush fresh leaves then toss into a pot of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain the liquid, removing the leaves, and then whisk the remaining water until it's nice and frothy.

    Chop roots into little pieces, then simmer in water for around 20 minutes. Let them cool, then throw them into the blender and add water. Don't get the blender more than half full because this stuff foams. Blend away, then let it sit a few hours or overnight so the foam will go down. You can also just crush them instead of using a blender if you're desperate. Then strain it through cheesecloth or something similar to get all the gibblets out. Now whisk the liquid and you gots foamy soap. Any roots you have left over can be dried and stored for later use.
    3M-TA3, Ganado, Gator 45/70 and 11 others like this.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    So this is a liquid natural soap? Seems safer to make then lye. I have seen these plants but do not have any- yet.
    Aeason likes this.
  3. Pineknot

    Pineknot Concrete Monkey Site Supporter+++

  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    I reading up on soapwort I found some extra info:

    Some neat soapwort additive: Lemon Juice- for mild bleaching

    The soap only keeps for a short period (about a week) so use it right away. Use caution as this can cause skin irritation in some people.
    Aeason, Georgia_Boy, stg58 and 3 others like this.
  5. sarawolf

    sarawolf Monkey++

    We don't have soapwort around here so I have to stick with old fashion lye soap making.
    Aeason and Motomom34 like this.
  6. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Just added soapwort to my seed purchasing list.
    Ganado, Gator 45/70 and Aeason like this.
  7. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Just make it's saponaria officialis(sp?) brand. There are different species of soapwort, but that's the most effective type if memory serves.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  8. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    Ganado likes this.
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