Homemade Homestead Hand Soap

by Wendy

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I have been looking for an economical solution to hand soap on the homestead.  With spring on its way……?  Ok, so it is supposed to be on its way, but way up north here, it’s still very wintry.  I guess we’ll all chin-up and try to embrace the winter wonderland’s extended season, but spring will soon be breaking through.  So, with that said, what comes with spring on the homestead?  M-U-D.  I lovingly refer to spring in our house as mud season.  With four boys and various critters there is no end to it.  As much as I do not look forward to the messiness of it all, I do love to be able to smell the wet earth again, and feel it all squish up between my toes.  If only all that heavenly mud would stay outside my front door.   What’s a mama to do?  Make soap, lots and lots of soap.  I decided to try Homestead Revival’s recipe for hand soap.  Find their page here.  After reading several recipes I knew that I wanted one that contained glycerin.  It seems to have better end results.  I also knew that I wanted to use Kirk’s Castile Soap, a new affordable find at our local grocer.  I love happy surprises!!!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, Kirk’s soap, period.  I have been using it in the shower for a few months, and it has definitely carried me through the driest parts of winter skin, with great results.  It does not over-dry, and it rinses clean.  No sticky residue.  I might want to mention at this point that I have sensitive skin, and harsh soaps and chemicals leave me with extreme eczema, especially on my hands, when they are washed frequently.  I end up with dry, bleeding, cracked, extremely unattractive skin, not to mention painful.  So when I find a soap I like, and it likes me back, it is a happy day.  My kiddos also have sensitive skin.  We have left behind harsh chemicals and perfumes in our home many years ago.  We are happily green and clean.

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 Kirk’s Original Coco Castile is the actual name of the hidden treasure, I mean soap, I found.  The company has a very interesting history, and since I fell in love, I figured I had better do a background check.  Ha, ha.  Anyway, they have been making soap since 1839!  Betcha they have cleaned up around a lot of homesteads throughout the years!  Let me share a brief history with you.

Kirk’s was founded in 1839 by one James S. Kirk.  Kirk’s family originated in Scotland but immigrated to Montreal, Canada with his family, when he was a baby.  As a teen he was introduced to the art/craftsmanship of candle and soap making, and at the age of twenty-one married ‘the love of his life’, moved to New York, and was ‘inspired’ to create his soap-making business.  Kirk was a family man.  He would come to have seven sons, many of whom worked within the family business.  The foundational philosophy of his company was to give consumers a high quality, affordable, natural soap.  He believed that everyone should have the opportunity to use high-quality, natural soaps without paying specialty prices.  In 1859 Kirk moved his soap making business to Chicago, Ill.  where it quickly grew to be the largest American soap manufacturing company in the United States.  They expanded into other arenas as well, but soap seemed to be their biggest market.  By 1900 they were producing more than 100 million pounds of soap per year.  Wow!  That’s a lot of soap!!!  In 1929 Kirk’s was sold out to Proctor and Gamble, but continued making soap under the “Kirk’s” name.  In 1996 Kirk’s Coco Hardwater Soap was acquired by Kirk’s Natural Product Corporation from Proctor and Gamble.  It was relocated back to its former home in Chicago.  In 2005, Kirk’s  is rehomed to Erlanger, Kentucky and becomes Kirk’s Natural.  It is here where the company resides today.  Kirk’s Natural is once again a family owned and operated business.  They specialize in a line of all natural castile products which are manufactured in the USA and cruelty-free.  YAY!  Kirk’s soap has been produced nearly uninterrupted for 175 years.  Now that is a story of the American Dream.  A company founded by a man with an idea and a passion to do good.  They still pride themselves after 175 years, in providing a quality natural soap at affordable prices.

So naturally, I wanted to use my new-found favorite soap in my hand soap recipe.  I can buy a four-ounce bar of Kirk’s Original Coco Castile for $1.92 at our local grocery.  I had been using Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in bar form which I could not get locally, and it cost me $5.99 thirty-five miles away.  The Dr. Bronner’s bar is a five ounce bar, so you get a little more bang for your buck, but with a price difference of $.72/ounce the bang is not big enough.  That adds up to be $2.88 in savings for the four-ounce bar of Kirk’s.  I get to shop locally, save gas, and save money.  That’s a win-win for me!  So do a little investigating in your local, not big box stores, sometimes you find a treasure.

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Homemade Homestead Hand Soap

1   4 oz. bar of Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap

2  T. liquid glycerin

1/2 gallon, or 2 qts. water

*optional,  essential oil

Grate Soap.  You can do this either by hand, or in a food processor.  Remember soap washes away clean, so no need to be concerned about using your food appliances.  Place water into large kettle on stove over medium high heat.  Add grated soap, and glycerin into kettle.  Stir.  It may get a little bubbly as it warms, that’s ok.  Stir until all soap bits are melted.  Remove from heat, and stir in enough drops of essential oil, if desired, until you like the smell.  I didn’t add any to mine, I just wanted it straight up good ‘ol soap.  You may either leave it in your kettle, or pour it into a bucket or gallon jar.  Let sit overnight, for 10-12 hours to set.

My soap seemed to set up pretty thick.  I added one extra tablespoon of glycerin, and gently mixed it in my kitchen aid.  That did the trick!  The soap came out of the dispenser very easily, was soapy and lovely!  As an added bonus, my hands are very soft!  Lovin’ the Homestead Hand soap!

Once the soap is set to the consistency you would like, pour it into your pump dispensers.  I am storing my extra soap in an antique two quart blue mason jar that belonged to my Grandma.  It makes me smile when I look at it.  Grandpa told me she used to put up wild blackberries in those jars.  Maybe someday we will have enough blackberries to fill up a jar or two, but for now, I will settle for half a batch of jam!  I also re-used a hand soap dispenser that I had previously bought.  I am happy that I saved it, now I can fill it with MY soap.  There is something deeply satisfying in that.

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(Photo Credit:  William Snobl)

Troubleshooting~

  • If soap gets too runny, or too thick, you may adjust it the next day.
  • If it is too runny, heat it up again and add more grated soap.
  • If your hand soap seems too thick, heat it up again and add more water and a bit of glycerin, or you can try just mixing it with an electric hand mixer to break it up.  Every brand of soap is a bit different in the way it sets.

   C’Mon Spring, Bring on the MUD!!!!

This Mama’s Ready!!!!