NON-FOOD RECIPES

Candles #1

Charcoal

Candles #2

Soap

MAKING SOAP

Kestrel from the CGSN Message Board

First let's cover safety.

Lye is an extremely strong base and will cause severe burns. The first step of making soap is always getting out the baking soda and keeping it close by. Use it to neutralize the lye if you get it on yourself. You should wear safety glasses if you have them available. (Note from WW - if you don't have safety glasses, get some! As a chemist I can assure you that the cost of a pair of safety goggles is justified for protecting the only eyes you'll ever have!)

Next take all your aluminum spoons and pots and put them away. Lye will eat holes completely through them! Use glass, plastic, or cast iron pots and plastic or wood spoons.

There are only three necessary ingredients to make soap: water, fat, and lye. Soft water like rainwater works best but anything wet will work. Here on this farm we always use lard for our fat. I'm sure beef tallow or other kinds of fat would work but I've never used them. Here in the sticks all grocery stores still carry Red Devil lye; its probably in the same area of the store as the drain cleaners. If it sits on the shelf next to Drano that should tell you something. Yeah I know there are dozens of recipes out there calling for salt, sugar, borax, oatmeal, olive oil... try those after you master basic soap.

The hardest part about making soap is getting the ratio of these three right. Here is the ratio that we use: 8 oz. of fat : 3 oz. of water : 1 oz of lye.

Now here is how to make soap.

  1. Take cold water and add your lye to it. Stir it until the lye is completely dissolved. Don't be surprised when the water boils and gets hot that's a good sign. After stirring put it over to the side and let it come back down to room temperature.
  2. Melt the fat in a pot large enough to prevent anything boiling over or splashing out. We use a big cast iron pot outside over a fire, but that's more tradition than necessary.
  3. Very carefully pour the lye water into the melted fat and stir and stir and stir. We use an old unpainted boat paddle to stir with but we make 20 pounds of soap at one time too. We also keep a low fire under the pot the entire time because it reduces the amount of time to stir.
  4. When you can pull your spoon or paddle out of the pot and the soap pulls up like spaghetti with it you are finished. You can leave it in this pot and cut it out in a week or two or pour it into molds to complete the job. Finally leave the soap alone for a week or two more, the longer it has to dry out the better it will be.

Sound simple? It is but you won't need to exercise the day you do this because the stir part is a lot of hard work. Sorry to put some of you guys to sleep. If anyone's got questions I will be happy to cover them on- or offline. If W doesn't mind me using up so much space I could tell ya'll about a few other things we non-yuppie types still do.

CANDLES

Old Mom

Okay, here was my objective: To make emergency candles with as minimal mess as possible with as little time commitment as possible.

Materials:

7 half-pint wide mouth mason jars and lids

Wick (used had 6 feet of wire wick and still have plenty left)

2 boxes of Gulf Wax

Package of wick holders

Procedure:

Open up the Gulf Wax, which has 4 wax chunks in it. Break chunks in half, then in quarters. Put all the quarters in one of the pint mason jars (no lids). Put it on for 10 min. at power level 7. If the wax isn't melted reset it again until it is. While the wax is melting, measure off your wick. It should be enough to reach above the jar and accommodate a knot. Cut it off. Knot one end. Slip it though the wick holder (if your wicks are not metal, you can tape the wick inside the jar before you put it in the microwave.)

Fill the sink with about 2 inches of cold water. Take the jar from the microwave with a glove, and put it in the cold water in the sink. Put the wick, stand and all, in the candle, as centered as you can, and having only a bit of the wick left out.

You can use a stick or old pencil to help you guide it a bit. After a few seconds, the wick should stay in place.

If you DON'T have a microwave...

Get out your boiling water bath (BWB -like for jelly). Do not fill it totally with water; use only with about 2 inches of water. Put the mason jars (no lids) in the jar holder, as if you were actually going to seal jelly or something. Don't overfill the jar holder with jars; about 4 at a time should be enough. Don't seal the jars. In each jar, you should have two halves of a chunk of Gulf Wax.

As the water begins to boil, lower the jars via the jar holder, into the BWB. You don't want the water going INTO the jars, so make sure as you lower it that the jars are upright, and that the water does not cover the jars. Watch as the wax melts, probably about 15 minutes. Carefully lift out the jars, and put in the wicks as described above.

You should be able to get about 6 or 7 candles, depending on how full you make your jar. After the candles cool, put a pack of matches inside, out the ring and seal on them.

I lit one for a bit. Seemed to work out ok. It threw off a bit of light, and burned clean.

Did I do it right? Anything I could have done differently to improve?

CHARCOAL

From Cookin' with Home Storage

Charcoal is a very useful fuel. It can be made from twigs and limbs of fruit, nut and other hardwood trees; from black walnuts or peach and apricot pits. It makes a hot fire which gives off little or no smoke.

To make charcoal, simply put the wood in a can which has a few holes punched in it. Put a lid on the can and `cook" it over a hot fire. The holes in the can will allow the gasses and flame to escape. The exclusion of oxygen keeps the wood from completely burning to ashes. When the flame from the holes in the can turns to yellow-red, remove the can from the fire and allow to cool. Store in paper bags or cardboard cartons.

EMERGENCY CANDLES

2 C. fine sawdust

1 lb. Melted wax

Chip or cut up wax into small pieces, and melt over water, never directly over flame or burner. It can be melted in the same can you're going to use for the candle. Put the sawdust in a shoe box and pour the wax over it. Mix it until it holds together well when squeezed in your hands. Pack and press the mixture into the can tightly and firmly. Make a hole with a long knitting needle. Add the wick, all the way down. Pour melted wax over the top to secure.

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