Monday, August 30, 2010

Ever Tweaking

Before Yeoldfurt left for work Sunday morning, we had to make a batch of laundry soap.  This is the third batch we've made since February, so each batch is lasting a good three months.  We're very happy with the performance and cost savings but we are ever tweaking the process to make it even easier and more efficient. 

Yeoldfurt grates the Zote soap for me which is really where most of the time and effort is expended.  It only takes me five minutes to measure the powders and set the pan of water up on the stove and then I spend the next ten minutes watching him finish up with the grating.  A friend of mine is interested in trying the recipe since she has four teenage boys at home and spends a fortune in store-bought laundry products.  I'm supposed to drop off a copy of the recipe to her next week.  As I was watching Yeoldfurt grate, I was thinking about my friend and decided I would pre-measure the powders into a quart canning jar and then put the proper amount of grated Zote soap in a baggie on top of the powder.  I would give her the recipe AND the ingredients for her first batch, all in a convenient pre-measured, pre-grated kit.  To make things even easier for my friend, I also took a picture of the ingredients and the tools we use to mix everything up.  I'll give her the picture and the recipe and include my phone number in case she has any last minute questions when she makes her first batch. 

The picture shows the only three ingredients (Zote soap, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and 20 Mule Team Borax powder), stacked on top of my deep kettle.  Also in the picture is the plastic cat litter jug that we re-purposed for our soap making.  The original recipe called for melting the grated Zote in 6 cups of water in a saucepan on the stove.  Then a half cup each of the two powders are added to the melted Zote, and all that was combined with another 4 cups of hot water in a bucket.  I don't have a saucepan large enough to take 10 cups of water plus the Zote and powders, so I use the deep kettle.  We use the big plastic jug instead of a bucket.  We pre-fill the jug with the 1 gallon plus 6 cups of warm water called for as the last ingredient in the recipe.  By pre-filling with hot rather than cold water, the soap mixes more readily and stays mixed while we transfer it to the laundry soap jugs. 

When we pour the soap mixture from the kettle into the jug, we use a canning jar funnel to avoid spills.  We set the jug with the pre-measured warm water in the sink and slip the canning jar funnel into the mouth of the jug.  It fits perfectly and we avoid losing product down the sink.  As the concoction cools, the soap may clump, but is easily re-homogenized by shaking the jug before you measure out the soap. 

Yeoldfurt thought all that was a great idea for my friend but also suggested we could make up a couple of jars for ourselves too.  Stay ahead a little bit.  Since each bar of Zote makes three recipes, it makes sense to me to make up three jars at a time.  By having everything pre-meaured and pre-grated, we will be able to whip up a batch in fifteen minutes if we needed too.

As you can see, the pre-measured powder and pre-grated Zote fit easily into a wide-mouth quart canning jar and will be a convenient way to keep a couple of batches stored ahead.  I do not re-use my canning lids for processing food, but mark them with an 'S' for storage and use them for things like this where I want a lid on the jar but it doesn't matter need to be an airtight seal.  I think these 'soap kits' might even make a nice gift.  You could use a circle of pretty fabric under the ring to close up the jar.  Tuck the pre-printed recipe inside the jar.  Tie a ribbon or raffia around the ring and it wouldn't even need gift wrap.   

Ahh, I love a good tweak!


  1. Great idea! I never thought of grating up enough for three batches. BTW we use Fels Naptha bars, have you used them? If so which seems to work better Zote of Naptha? I use White king in place of the Borax because the Borax doesn't dissolve well in our water( it's hard water)

    As for gifts that is something that we could add to our holiday basket of homemade goodies, thanks for sharing the idea :o)

  2. I have only been able to find Zote locally, Kelle. I know I can buy Fels Naptha online, but the cost is higher especially with shipping and that sort of defeats the purpose. We have been very pleased with how well the product cleans our clothes, no complaints.

    I will deliver my gift jar 'soap kit' tomorrow. My friend does not have Internet access so I am printing up the instructions for her. Otherwise, I would just point her to my blog! LOL

    Glad you liked the idea. I've gotten so many wonderful tips from the blogs I read's nice to be a contributor once in a while!

    : )

  3. I am trying to talk the wife into start doing this and homemade house cleaning products.
    It's a work in progress.....

  4. Well, maybe you could whip up a batch and let her try it. If she's pleased with the results and knows you'll help her make it when she needs some ...she might be more interested. The savings are huge. I used to spend $12-$20 for the same amount of the store-bought variety and that was buying off brands and looking for sales. My initial investment to make my own was less than $4 and the boxes of powders are only about half gone. Maybe there is a pet project your wife would like to have money for and you can offer her the savings from the laundry soap as an incentive. Bargaining

  5. Love your blog!

    I would love to get your comments and perspective on some of my recent entries. Feel free to stop by when you have a little time!

    God bless!