Lou’s Oatmeal Soap
4 tablespoons Lye
2 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup cool water
Making soap is a probably a lot easier than you think. Be cautious with lye as it is very caustic. Avoid breathing the fumes when you add it to the water. Don’t use anything aluminum when soap making the lye reacts with it, glass, plastic and stainless steel are okay. I always have a bottle of lemon juice or vinegar handy, it is acidic and neutralizes the alkalinity of the lye, in case you get some on you. I mix my lye and water in a glass measuring cup because I can determine when the mixture is lukewarm by touching the outside of the glass. This doesn’t work well with a plastic container.
Grind oatmeal into a powder in a blender. Set aside. Place water in a glass measuring cup, under the exhaust fan on your stove. Add the lye, stir gently with a wooden spoon and turn on the exhaust fan. Heat vegetable shortening in microwave for about 1 minute. Place in blender and mix a little. You can now judge the readiness of your lye water mixture by touching the outside of the glass, it should feel warm but not hot. Put on a pair of safety glasses and carefully add the lye to the shortening while the blender is running. This is what that little round thing in the middle of the blender lid is for, pop it out and pour slowly. Be cautious about splashes. Mix well, then add the oatmeal. Continue to mix. Pour the mixture into a mold. An empty 1 litre milk carton works really well because you can simply peel it off the next day and cut your soap into bars. Set aside to cure in a well ventilated place for two weeks. If you make it soon enough you can give it away for Christmas.
Don’t spend a fortune ordering Lye over the internet. Your local Home Hardware has lye in the drain cleaner area. Just make sure you get Lye and not drain cleaner. That could result in a chemical reaction of a different nature.
Don’t be too intimidated by this stuff. My grandmother made her own lye from wood ash and she did so while running a farm and tending to six kids. She also broke horses to pay for her wedding dress. They just don’t make them like they used to.