Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paperwork and soap making

I hate paperwork!  I would much rather walk fences or feed calves or make soap.  That might have something to do with why I took early retirement from the corporate world.  No way to get around it there.

So why did I think that there would be no paperwork here?  Hah!  Not only do I have my own, but I am treasurer and scheduler for our milk association.   It has been my objective over the past week to get to the bottom of it.  First I balanced 12 months of bank statements for two bank accounts, and three months' worth for a third.  Then I did two months of posting for credit card charges.  Yesterday I tackled filing, for the milk association, for my farming business, including the organic certification papers, and for my soap business.

The dining room table is clean.  The kitchen counter is clean.  I can see my desk top.  My computer desk is clear.  So now I can get on with making soap.

Soap is made with lye.  People ask me if my soap has lye - they don't want lye.  Well, ALL soap has lye.  The chemical formula for making soap includes lye.  If there is no lye, then technically it is NOT soap!  So I have to gently explain to them that the lye disappears after it does its job, which is to act as the catalyst to bind the liquid and the oils.  Just as copper and zinc are combined to form an alloy called brass, from which neither copper nor zinc can be derived, soap is an "alloy" of fat, liquid and lye, which cannot be broken down into its components.  So the lye really and truly is no longer there.  But the lye makes a very alkaline product, which is why cold process soap - which is what I make - has to sit on a curing rack for several weeks.  During that time, the pH gradually lowers until it is at the proper level. 

I have people specifically ask for "lye soap."  I am catching on to that one.  What they mean is that they want the old fashioned soap that was nothing but some lard or tallow, water, and lye.  I make it for myself, grate it and use it in my washing machine.  It is the most fabulous laundry soap!  It leaves the clothes soft and scent-free.  No need for fabric softeners.  The little chunks of bar left after I'm done grating go into a cup in the laundry room and are used to rub on tough spots.  No need to buy stain removers.  I make my own soap from tallow I get for free from the butcher.  I buy lye in bulk from an internet wholesaler.  My machine is a front load type, which uses less soap.  It costs me about three cents per load to do my laundry.

As for grating it, that Cuisinart food processor is good for more than slicing cabbages for sauerkraut!  The grating wheel makes short work of grating three bars, enough to fit in the Tupperware cereal container and more than enough to do my laundry for three or four week.

Well, I'm off to the soap room right now.  Gotta get one batch done before Misty gets here to help milk out Lucy.  Vet says maybe another few days of morning milking just to be sure she is clear, but she is doing just great!

Still 15 chickens, three calves, three heifers in their proper paddock, six milkers, one bull (will have to write about Samuel one of these days), one large black old dog, one large black young dog, one yappy middle aged small dog, and one small white curious cat.

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