Because we have no regard for the direction of time around here, here’s the latest batch of Ugly Soap.

Home made soap the color of sick poo
Really Ugly Soap

And here is how it came to be, writing yesterday afternoon:

Tomorrow, I turn 42.  This seems like the biggest joke I have ever played on the universe.

Today, we make soap.  This is not, at all, how soap is supposed to look.  This is beyond disgusting.



This is some kind of frothing horror that threatened to bubble over the crock pot for what seemed like several eternities.  In fact it was probably about two and a half minutes.  Two and a half very dicey minutes in which I stirred and prayed and turned off the crock pot.

In return, I got this.


Which is not a stunning recommendation, either.  It’s got some clove and cinnamon thrown on top.  It looks awful.  It doesn’t even smell very good.  But when it has cured, it will smell of clean earth and warm spice and it will clean like a mofo.  This is not your average bath soap.  This is for serious business.

It has only 3% superfat, which is less fat than your usual home made bath bar.  In fact, calculating lye is such dodgy business when using textbook values for fats that 3% is pushing your luck.  I have already zap tested this, which is to say, I have licked it.  It tasted like cussing, and not like burning, which is how we know it’s safe.

Here’s the recipe:

Labor Day Soap

  • 59 g castor oil
  • 84 g tallow
  • 303 g plain olive oil
  • 512 g coconut oil (76F)
  • 147 g lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 316 g distilled water
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of powdered indigo
  • Some cinnamon and clove

Oils go in crock pot on low.

Mix lye into water in non reactive bowl.  Never the other way around.  Lye into water.  Got it?  The other way will not work out well.

Gently chuck in the powdered indigo and stir until the lye has dissolved and the indigo is well dispersed.  Don’t stick your face over it.  It’ll burn your lungs.  Even without your face over it, this is a good time to contemplate why you don’t want to go to hell.  It’s really awful.  The indigo powder adds a special kind of misery to the whole process, but wow, is it worth it.

Let the lye solution come down in temperature for five or ten minutes, then gently pour into the oils.  Blend to trace, cook on low 45 minutes.  Somewhere around 35, it tried to explode in a way I’ve never seen before.  Persistent, fluffy, terrifying.  Then it fell right down and was recognizably soap.

Happy Labor Day.


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