Soap of Your own

Essay by liltachaCollege, UndergraduateA-, April 2006

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As we had no money to buy fat with when I was a girl, we made our own by rendering it when we killed an animal. We cut off the fat, cleaned it up, and then cut it up finely with a knife. Then we put it in our big pots and cooked it until all that remained was the cracklings floating in the boiling fat. We drained off as much fat as we could, poured it into pails, and stored it in the root cellar. We used this to make pies, and to cook with. We put the cracklings away for another day when we would make soap out of them. The cracklings still had a lot of fat in them. In fact, the main reason we cooked the soap was to dissolve, or disintegrate the cracklings into the soap.

On the day we made soap, we took the cracklings and put them in our big copper kettle.

As they were heating on the stove, we added our lye, sprinkling the crystals on top of the cracklings. Then we added the water and started stirring it. We boiled this mixture until the cracklings disappeared. If there were any little pieces of meat in the cracklings they wouldn't dissolve and we had to take them out with a wooden spoon, or lift them out on the end of our stirring stick. We continued to stir and boil it, checking it every 20 minutes or so to see if it was done. We did this by taking a spoon full out and pouring it on a plate. We knew it was done when it hardened to the consistency of soft cream cheese after it cooled. Sometimes there were streaks of water running through it. If this happened we knew it...