Soap Making for Science and History

By Holly Giles | Boy Crafting

 Our family loves the pioneering days. We learned to make our own soap as the pioneers did, with a modern twist and gained a new skill we continue to use. During our Little House on the Prairie study, we made soap to give out as gifts for the holidays.  I was nervous to attempt working with lye and exact measurements, hoping not to end up with a gooey blob. 

 It turned out pretty good.

 We just read a story in Grant’s history book about a little girl and her family that has to spend a whole day making soap with
 lye and animal fat. I thought it would be a good opportunity to make another batch of soap and have Cowboy do it himself.  Our modern day technology is awesome that we don’t have to collect ashes in a barrel with water and wait for it to cure. 
 We can order it crystallized!

How to Begin

Safety first!  Grant wears glasses and gloves when mixing the ingredients. We add oatmeal, cinnamon, and cloves in our batch to make it a nice scrub and lovely smell, especially when dirty boys are using the soap! Even though soap making has transformed through the years, it is still a precise measurement to get it to cure correctly. 

The Process

Soap making, if using good oils and added ingredients can be pricey as an initial investment. We have not purchased soap from the store for over a year now. The best part is we know what’s in it, so Grant’s skin won’t get a rash like other soap, and the boys can use it as shampoo also. We will make about 20 bars at a time. We do sell some at craft fairs,  but keep the majority of it as gifts and use in our home.

The Results

We have touched on several subjects in this afternoon lesson.  We talked about the history of soap in our book, and the long and tedious process it was in making it.  We watched the chemical reaction take place when we dissolve the lye crystals in water.  After mixing in all the other ingredients, we watch and wait for the liquid to saponify, which means thicken.

 At that point, we pour it up and wait for it to harden.

Grayson and Grant designed the soap label that we use for gifts and at craft fairs..They tear the paper and stamp the bear paw on it and tape on the labels.  The boys named it Dirty Boy Soap, because, well… they stay dirty.

They thought if it looked dirty, kids would want to use it. Sounded good to me!  I don’t know about your house, but if the words “and use soap” are not added to  “wash your hands” and “take a shower”then it usually is not included.

Both boys help to sell the soap when we have opportunities to sell our items.  These are real life, hands-on entrepreneurial skills  
that they can’t read about in a book. 

Sometimes, making a little mess with the kids can pay off with skills and opportunities they might not otherwise experience.

Add soap making to your science and history lessons and have fun with it.  If you are not into chemical reactions, get a glycerin soap kit from a craft store.  You can still get the same effect of letting the kids make their own soap and be proud of their accomplishment.

Looking beyond the pages of your books can sometimes make a lasting imprint with your children. For us, that is what home education is all about.  The opportunity to take it further to create,  experiment and enjoy.


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