Pine tar soap gets high marks from many people for its ability to help alleviate skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or acne. One way to make sure your bar of pine tar soap is free from impurities and unwanted chemicals is to make it yourself.
Keep Safety First
Any basic soap recipe can be made into pine tar soap simply by adding the pine tar. But before trying to make your first batch of soap, make sure you have the necessary equipment and understanding to complete your project safely.
All soap recipes use lye, which is a caustic chemical. If the mixture splashes onto your skin, it can cause severe burns. Avoid inhaling the fumes and wear safety glasses, rubber gloves and a long-sleeved shirt. Do your mixing in a well-ventilated area.
You will need a large stainless steel or enamelware cooking pot, about the size you'd use to make a large batch of spaghetti; a medium size Pyrex or stainless steel bowl; a candy thermometer; an electric hand mixer; and a spoon. Never use an aluminum pot or aluminum utensils because they react to the lye. You can buy soap molds for the finished product, or pour the entire mixture into a kitty-litter-box-sized plastic pan and then cut it into bars.
Get Your Materials and Start Mixing
To make about 28 bars of soap, you need 6 pounds of fat, 5 cups of cold water, 6 to 7 ounces of pine tar, and 13 ounces of lye. For the beginner, lard from the supermarket is the easiest fat to obtain and use in the recipe. Order your lye over the Internet; recent government restrictions have made it more difficult to buy locally.
In a well-ventilated area, with your safety glasses and long-sleeved shirt on, add the lye to the water in your medium-sized stainless steel or Pyrex bowl. The mixture will immediately get very hot because of the chemical reaction between the water and the lye. Stir until all the lye is dissolved and set aside until its temperature drops to 110 degrees.
In the meantime, melt the lard and pine tar together in the large cooking pot on your stove over low heat until it becomes a liquid. Set it aside until its temperature drops to 110 degrees.
When both mixtures have reached the proper temperature, slowly, evenly and steadily pour the lye mixture into the fat (not vice versa) while you stir with your electric mixer. Use the electric mixer for about 10 minutes, then switch to a large spoon.
When the mixture is stiff enough to hold a line as you “trace” across its surface, it’s almost time to pour it into molds or the plastic tub. The batch is ready when it starts to look a bit duller on top and a slight ring forms on the side of the pot.
Transfer it into the molds or pan. Cover the soap and let it rest where it will be at room temperature. Do not disturb it until it is about as hard as a piece of Swiss cheese, which should take about a week. At that point you may remove the soap from the molds or pan. If you used a pan, cut the slab into bar-sized pieces. Use a sharp knife and keep its blade warm by dipping it in hot water throughout the process. Finally, lay the bars out in a single layer and allow them to cure in a cool, dark place for another six weeks.