Make It Yourself

Make It Yourself
Make It Yourself!
Few people realize that the most commonly used frugal cleaning ingredients can be cheaply made at home. You can make your own soap and vinegar for just pennies and have lots of science project fun while doing so!

Four pounds of Basic Soap for cleaning, hand washing, and spraying on your roses can be made for around two USA dollars.
Three pounds of discount shortening, OR Lard, OR butter, OR clarified fat you saved in the freezer(cheapest)
3 cups of water or milk
Stainless steel , glass, or enamel pan NO ALUMINUM !!! (It reacts with the lye!!!) If you can’t tell one metal from another use glass casserole dishes.
Wood spoon for stirring.
Rubber Gloves


In a well ventilated room, or out doors, CAREFULLY (!!!!!) add lye to water, or milk in pan or glass casserole. Stir with wooden spoon or stick. This will INSTANTLY heat up and get hot!!! Be careful not to breath the fumes. This is why pioneer women made soap outside! Let cool to very warm (around 100 plus degrees F).

When lye solution has cooled to warm melt fat so it just barely is changed from solid. Mix the lye solution into the fat and stir constantly for around ten minutes. Stir intermittently until the soap "traces" which means firms up like a good custard and makes soft mounds when you sort of pile it about in the pan.

You can pour it into glass or plastic molds, or boxes lined with plastic wrap. Cover with old blankets to hold the warmth, and let sit overnight. The next day you can cut bars and then stack them on old newspaper for a month or so to "age" the soap. This means that all the lye will interact with the fat making soap milder.

If you want to add scent or fancy ingredients its best to "re-batch" the soap by grating it and adding a small amount of water. Then melt it over a double boiler mixing well. It will resemble the soap when you first made it (mushy), but this has the lye worked out of it and won’t burn up additives like scent, oatmeal, or herbs.

To get more ideas, check out:

To Make your own vinegar for cleaning --- not your salads --- just boil up fruit peelings, and then strain the liquid. Pour juice in a clean sterile jar, jug, or crock (To Sterilize:Pour boiling water in, let sit, and then pour out water). Then add a bit of yeast or unwashed fruit peeling to the liquid. Let it ferment with the cap off in a warm place. Leave cap off and soon it will spoil and get a vinegar odor. This is the vinegar organisms changing it to vinegar. It will get sort of a glop on top called the "vinergar mother." This is a good thing, don’t worry about it. When all activity has stopped in the vessel, strain off the "mother" and sediment and pasteurize by bringing the liquid to just a boil and then removing from heat to cool.

For more vinegar ideas check out the
Vinegar Ideas Page

Voila! Vinegar for cleaning…

You can check out more recipes like this in Carla Emery’s wonderful book:
The Old Fashioned Recipe Book:
Long ago I got a copy of Carla Emery's wonderful book:
Encyclopedia of Country Living and Olf Fashioned Recipe Book

Finally, when the cleaning is done you need a good cheap hand cream! Here’s a recipe from my friend Annie.

Annie’s Simple Cream
(recipe donated by Anne Turner)

1/4 cup distilled(bottled) water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon borax powder (20 muleteam)
3 Tablespoons beeswax, grated (packed)
1/2 Cup of any oil (olive works fine)
20 drops essential oil of choice, vanilla

first: heat water, extract and borax until borax is dissolved. This can be done on the stove or in the microwave.
Second: Melt oils and wax together in separate container. I suggest a small saucepan for this. Don't get it to hot. You can pull it off stove when it is almost melted and stir till it finishes melting.

Then mix the two containers together and whisk, whisk, whisk. Put into clean jar(s) or bottle(s) and enjoy.
This makes a lovely cream and is a good project for older children.

Have fun with your science experiments!

Here is a geat link for cheap oils and herbs!

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This content was written by Lili Pintea-Reed. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Jill Florio for details.