Saturday, August 20, 2016

Making Soap Runs in the Family!

Our popular Pumpkin Soap will be back beginning next month!

Soap making runs in the family! I was recently discussing my soapmaking business with my mom, and she had some fond memories to share about her own grandmother (my great-grandmother) making laundry soap when she was a youngster. The tale goes something like this:

My great-grandmother's secret
laundry soap ingredient!
My great-aunt owned restaurants in the mid-twentieth century. Back then they used lard in their fryers rather than the vegetable oil that is conventionally used now. With all of that leftover lard, my great-aunt would wait until her mother (my great-grandmother) would come for a visit from her Wisconsin dairy farm, and put her to work (or as my mom speculates, found a way to keep her busy!) making soap from the used lard. Together they would process the leftover lard, which my mother, an elementary school aged youngster in the early 1960's said "stunk to high heaven!"

After the lard was sufficiently cleaned, my great-aunt and grandmother would combine it with lye water to create soap. This is the part that I'm very familiar with! After that, they would grate a bar of Fels Naptha to add to the homemade soap. Now, Fels Naptha was a popular laundry soap (with some old wives' tale applications) dating back to the late nineteenth century, although it's still sold today with a modified formula. I even found a Pinterest board dedicated to Fels Naptha, so there must still be a following for it!

"Got Soap? Then please do the laundry!"
This retro pic hangs up in my soap
making room/office. How funny is that?
My mother remembers watching her aunt and grandmother washing clothes with their handmade laundry soap and thinking to herself, why don't they just go out and buy some laundry soap?! It was the early 1960's, after all! Even though I'm constantly in some stage of the soap making process, I have to admit that I've never made my own laundry soap. If you're feeling adventurous and would like to give it a try, here's a recipe from the Wellness Mama blog that serves as a nice starting point.

While my great-grandmother chose to focus her soap making skills in a more utilitarian way that I do now, I think that the practical side of her would have been overjoyed that I'm carrying forward a family tradition that I had no idea existed until recently! Do you have a hobby or trade that runs in your family? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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