Tag Archives: soap

I’m having a fire

I’m havinga fire

Everyone has so much cardboard at this time of the year, and I seem to have lots of trimmings of a huge rose hedge I cut down earlier in the autumn. It was hard work, and actually took me several years to complete, in stages. The back half of the garden, when we came here, was a rotting mess of a huge hypericum, a lot of lilac trees all infected with honey fungus, a lot of brambles and roses, and millions and millions of rats.

All that is now cleared away we grow food on it, and we have the hen run. Literally it has doubled the size of the garden.

Most of it has been burned and incorporated into the raised beds and that’s what’s happening to the rest, including the cardboard boxes! You might say the cardboard should be recycled, to save atmospheric CO₂. Well actually the recycling gives off quite a lot of CO₂ in itself. So burning it isn’t so unfriendly as you might think, plus you get some great soil improver.

All my ash goes into the beds and gets incorporated, acting as a great fertiliser. But you can do more than that, you can make soap. Fill a large bucket with ash and then leave it for the rain to fill it.

Once full, leave it a few weeks, covered, and then the liquid can be strained into a container – I use a detergent squeezy bottle.

Then heat some pork fat, cut small in a pan and as it starts to render, squirt some of the lye (that is the liquid you made from ashes) and give it a mix. When it is nearly boiling dry, squirt a bit more and mix, and continue this all day until you end up with proper soap.

This way of making soap was taught me at school. The lye you make isn’t that strong and therefore there is less chance of injury, though it is always advisable to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

Goodness how old this method is, it might well be prehistoric, well at least iron age because you do need a good cooking pot.