- There is no romance or poetry in making boiled soap, only patient hard work; yet without this useful article, what an unpresentable people we should be. Place the grease, consisting of soup-bones and all kinds of fat that accumulate in a kitchen, in a kettle, filling it only half full; if there is too much fat, it can be skimmed off after the soap is cold, for another kettle of soap. This is the only true test when enough fat is used, as the lye will consume all that is needed and no more. Make a fire under one side of it. The kettle should be in an out-house or out of doors. Let it heat very hot so as to fry, and stir it to prevent burning; now put in the lye, a gallon at the time, watch closely until it boils, as it sometimes runs over at the beginning. Add lye until the kettle is full enough, but not too full, to boil well. Soap should boil from the side and not the middle, as this would be more likely to cause it to boil over. To test the soap, to one spoonful of soap add one of rain-water; if it stirs up very thick, the soap is good and will keep; if it becomes thinner, it is unfit for use. This is the result of one of three causes: it is too weak, there is a deposit of dirt, or it is too strong. Continue to boil for a few hours, when it should flow from the stick with which it is stirred, like thick molasses; but if after boiling it remains thin, let it stand over night, removing the fire, then drain very carefully into another vessel, being particular to prevent any sediment from passing. Wash the kettle, return the soap and bring to a boil, and if the cause was dirt, it will now be thick and good, otherwise it is too strong and needs rain-water added. Tins can safely be done by pouring in a small quantity at a time, until it becomes thick. These are the usual causes that arise to trouble soap-makers. If other difficulties appear, they must use good common sense to meet and overcome them.
It might not be amiss to add to this the most economical way of saving soap grease. Have a kettle standing in the yard in summer time (or if there is not a yard, in cellar), and as you save a little grease put it in. but do not rat in raw grease. If there are any pieces of fat left after using a ham or lumps of suet not used in cooking a steak, put them in a skillet and fry them brown, then put all into the kettle of lye; thus every particle of fat will be saved, and no fear of insects, rats or mice getting into and destroying the grease. Keep the kettle covered during night or when raining, but uncovered in the sunshine, stirring occasionally. In the fall, all that is necessary is to make a fire under the kettle, and let it boil a short time, adding more lye or grease if needed. If there are too many bones in it, or any particles that have not become consumed, skim them out and put them in a pot of weak hot lye. stirring them with the skimmer to rinse off all the soap then skim out and throw away, and the pot of lye which has become almost soap, may now be added to the kettle of good soap. A few beef bones left in the barrel will sink to the bottom, and are said by some good housewives to improve the soap. Soft soap should be kept in a dry place in cellar, and is better if allowed to stand three months before using.