Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Vegan "Lard" Bar

Tried a new soap this morning in the shower, and I just had to write about it, so I'm taking a mini-break from the chemistry "lectures."

I bought some lard this past winter to make suet cakes for the bird feeders at school (I have a bird club that collects and sends data to the Cornell Institute of Ornithology through their Project FeederWatch Program).  Found out the hard way that was a mistake.  Lard melts WAY too easily. I ended up with an extra one pound container of lard for which I had no use.  I prefer to make soap from plant oils, but I didn't want the lard to go to waste, so I made a four bar batch of lard soap, concocting a recipe on that had the properties I wanted.  I also tested out a new FO - Nature's Garden Exotic Amazon Teakwood, as I wanted to try out a more manly scent for my husband.

Some people really love lard soap, and now I can see why. It makes a hard bar with thick, creamy lather. Not as bubbly as my usual recipe, but I really liked it for a change.  My husband liked the soap and the scent.  I loved the scent too; manly enough for a "men's line," yet it didn't make me feel like I bathed with Old Spice or something like that.  Now I had a problem.  I liked the soap, but still preferred to use plant oils and butters.  Lard is also a bit smelly to make soap out of, much like milk soaps can stink until they cure. When researching fatty acids for one of my earliest posts, I discovered that mango butter (as well as shea and cocoa butters) has a fatty acid profile similar to lard. The plant butters, however, have much higher amounts of ricinoleic acid, which should increase the lather compared to lard.  So I developed a mango butter soap recipe similar to my lard recipe (I had some mango butter on hand).  I tried a different FO (Nature's Garden Pineapple Paprika) that I thought would work well with the mango theme.  Finally tried the soap this morning, after a four or five week cure.  Impression?  Love it!  It has a lot of lovely, creamy lather much like the lard soap, maybe even better, and the FO smelled terrific. It feels just as hard as the lard soap, which is what I expected from my Soapcalc numbers.   The only downside is that mango butter isn't cheap, especially compared to lard.  But I think it makes a great vegan "lard" bar substitute.

I'm going to keep one of the mango butter bars around for about a year, as well as a lard bar,  to see what happens.  Mango, shea, and cocoa butters all have high amounts of linoleic acid, as does lard.  This fatty acid can make soap that is prone to getting DOS.  I want to see how long those bars will last for me.

Unfotunately, I'm not posting a picture of the soap.  The FO made the lye/oil mixture seize on me, so the bars are not especially pretty.  But that's another post.


  1. Great info about mango butter. I'll have to research it a bit. Recently I've made a shea butter soap, using about 20%, and I love how creamy it is!

  2. I also made a mango butter soap 6 weeks ago. 20% mango, plus olive @ coconut. Beautiful creamy soap, and also quite hard. Not very big bubbles, but still foamy. I love it. I used pine, rosemary, peppermint, and thyme EO's. Smells very fresh.

  3. Hello! I just found your blog, im writing from Argentina; and im impressed at how much you know about chemistry, and soapmaking. Im very new at this and i would like to know if you can recommend seminars or books where i can learn this hands on (i learn soo much better that way!) besides my own investigation in the kitchen, of course! I travel to the States very often, so that would not be a problem. I look forward to your response, and thank you very much!!!!