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Like other reviewers, I wasn't satisfied with the results of the traditional Fels recipe. I just made this receipe and it's currently cooling so I haven't used it yet so can't comment on effectiveness, but I will update. The cooking process took quite awhile, because I added the soap flakes all at once and they clumped and took a long time to melt. Next time I will add the soap flakes a little at a time, and this should reduce the prep time quite a bit. I was very careful to ensure that all the soap was melted and I stirred the mixture constantly throughout the whole process, and I still had a lot of clumping and separating on the surface of the mix. It looks and feels like soap curd (bathtub scum), so my theory is that this separating is due to the hard water minerals in my tap water. I just skimmed this curd off the top, like how you do when making clarified butter. I figure that the resulting detergent will be much better for both my clothes and the washer (Gramma Rox - maybe doing this would make the detergent safe for your washer?). Next time I'm going to try distilled water, and I'm hoping this will eliminate the separating altogether.
UPDATE: It worked out so much better this time! What I did differently: I used distilled water (heated on the stove prior to adding soap); I shredded my soap flakes much finer (by scraping with a serrated knife, instead of a cheese grater) , and added them to the water a little at a time to keep them from combining; I kept the heat on very low - at first a "2" on my electric stove, then a "1". I stirred the whole time while the soap was melting, and this took about 10-15 minutes. I added borax first, and it became very creamy. Then I added the soda and it became almost cottage-cheese like in texture. When I added it all to the hot distilled water in the bucket, I used an immersion blender to mix it up. Every time I stirred the mixture, I would stir first with a wooden spoon, then with the immersion blender. No soap curd at all, and a nice homogenous mixture.
I have not tried this recipe although I plan to. I was reading the reviews and a couple people asked about the clumping. Try not letting it get to a boil. As it is cooling, keep stirring the whole batch, like every hour or so. Hope that works for you.
I am really, really happy with the results. I too wasn't happy with the standard fels recipe, so I gave this one a try. So far, it has been very good at removing stains, who knew glycerin was a stain remover? I used local soaps that are very similar to those in the recipe and rosemary oil. Thank you very much for posting :)
UPDATE: In the end, I stopped adding the water at all. Just ground everything up, spread it out to dry and used it that way. But I have an HE washer. The soap (probably overused it) caked up and my washer stopped emptying. The repairman told me I have to use the low suds soap labeled HE OR ELSE. Sniff. Any ideas? ORIGINAL: I love this soap! It does clean much better than the regular Fels recipe, but then it is much more concentrated (and therefore more money) as well. The only problem I had was that it separated into liquid and lumps the first time I made it. The problem is that when you are stirring it is hard to tell when it is dissolved. The second time I cooked it much longer before adding the borax and washing soda and cooked it after I added them as well - it still clumped. Things I did differently the second time: I used my turkey deep fryer outside and tripled the recipe. I first heated the six gallons of water and moved it off the heat. Using another kettle I added 3 qts of hot water to the shredded soap. Cooked, added extras, cooked some more and then added it all back into the fryer kettle. Worked great! I'm going to store the soap in clean kitty food buckets w/lids. I used homemade castile soap made with lard instead of kirks, which I can't find locally. At any rate, for six gallons of soap I spent less than $7 and it works as well as anything I've ever purchased. I do usually add vinegar as fabric softener to fully rinse it out and reduce buildup in the washer.
I made this for my best friend who is an ironworker. He comes home from work on a daily basis caked in dirt, rust, and various fluids. After using this stuff he swore he'd never buy laundry soap again, as it does a better job even if he adds Clorox 2 to the store bought stuff. I'm getting ready to make it to replace the regular fels soap because I have two dirty little boys too! Thanks so much for an inexpensive alternative that doesn't put up with dirt!
Mine is seperating too, I thought I did it long enough but no dice. Can somebody give me approximate temperatures and exact cooking time for each step? Update, the second time I did it I didn't let the heat go as high and this time the whole solution gelled. If anyone has any suggestions I'd love them. I love the detergent it cleans great, the whitest whites I've ever had with nothing extra. So I would love to get this right.
I've made this recipe for some time now, and love it. I never added Kirks Castile Soap, glycerin and Tea Tree oil. Made a batch up, using glycerin, and Tea Tree Oil. Didn't add Kirks Castile Soap, (didn't have any handy). Think I will stay with this recipe. Now, the soap, has an 'smell' to it. :) I double the recipe, and put it in a 5-gallon, multi-purpose bucket, that I bought for $5 at Home Depot, came with a lid too. I added about 30 drops of Tea Tree Oil, that in my opinion, is too much. Next time, I'll half it. Thank you!!