**Added May 17, 2006 (Hat Tip to Happy Housewife): Crystal Paine just added a photo tutorial of this soap-making experience to her blog! If you were confused by my soap-making directions, fret no more! Find photos here
So many of my friends have asked for this recipe that I decided to post it here for you! Reading Crystal Miller's wonderful homemaking website a few weeks ago, I came across this recipe. I have found the soap to work great at getting clothes clean and leaving them smelling fresh. It only takes about 5 minutes of actual work and 10 minutes of stove time to make enough soap to do 64 loads of laundry. According to Crystal's calculations, it costs only 71 cents to make this recipe (the Borax and Super Washing Soda will make many, many batches) — just a tad more than a penny a load. And this soap is more "natural" than the stuff you'd buy at the store.
To try it the way I've done it thus far, you need the following:
A big stockpot
One bar of IVORY soap (you can find 3 packs at the 99 Cent Only Stores)
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (I searched drug stores all over town for this stuff, and was just about to give up when I found it at Food Source — apparently its a grocery store and not a drug store thing)
Borax (I found this cheap, under 3 bucks, at Walmart but noticed it was also available at Food Source)
A 2 gallon bucket or a few smaller buckets (you can find cheapie "tupperware"-type buckets at the Dollar Store. When the soap is finished, it is in a semi-solid state. Don't do what I did the first time and pour your soap into old milk gallon jugs — the soap would NOT come out! I had to cut the jugs open and pour the soap into a container with a larger mouth!
The first thing you need to do is grate the bar of Ivory soap with a hand-held cheese grater. This should take you 2 minutes or less — the Ivory is super soft and grates very easily.
Place your shredded soap into a large stockpot with 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts. One time I whisked the soap the whole time and the concoction came out way too frothy, so now I simply stir gently with a spoon every once in awhile until melted.
Once the IVORY is melted, you can turn off the heat and pour in 1/2 cup of Borax and 1/2 Super Washing Soda. Stir until these are completely dissolved. I next add 4 cups of hot water to the mixture in the stockpot and stir once again (Crystal Miller has you add the hot water to the plastic bucket at this point, but because I use 2 buckets each time I do all the mixing in my stock pot and then pour into the buckets).
Next, simply add in another gallon of water (I used an old milk carton to measure this), and another 6 cups of water (I have been adding only 4 at this point, to make the soap a little firmer).
Lastly, pour your liquid mixture into your bucket/buckets, and set somewhere safe from getting spilled for the next 24 hours. You will discover a fresh-smelling soap that in consistency resembles Jello that has been sitting out at a BBQ for about 1/2 hour in the Sacramento sun. Scoop a half of a cup into your washing maching and enjoy fresh, clean, natural clothes — for a little more than a penny a load!
Crystal Miller suggests adding essential oils or fragrance oils to the soap. I have tried both grapefruit essential oil and mulberry fragrance oil. IVORY has such a strong smell that I don't think the oils add much to it. Perhaps if I was to use the Fels Napta soap, you may be able to smell the fragrance from the oils. Let me know if you try it this way, and how it works.
I am still using my liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets on occasion (Ron hates static cling of any kind on his work clothes), but even without fabric softener, the clothes smell great.
In case you are looking for ways to use up that Borax and Super Washing Soda, I just came across this recipe for Automatic Diswashing Detergent from my Crunchy Christian Mamas group (I just tried this — the dishes came out the same as my regular detergent, but my dishwasher is shockingly clean!!):
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Mix the washing soda snd the borax and store in a plastic covered container. To use, add 2 tablespoons to the dishwasher soap compartment.
If you have problems with spots, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups white vinegar to the rinse compartment before washing.