how to

Soap in an eggshell

… and the house smells amazing!

Today I again dipped into the instructional pages of Polly Pinder’s Home-made and at a fraction of the cost. Published in 1983, it is delightful publication which includes chapters on growing herbs in pots, home-baked breads, soft cheeses, chutneys, pickles and mustards, smoked foods, sweets, nature’s drinks, fruit preserves, scents and fragrances, cosmetics, and last of all, soaps. A good friend has lent this book to me and I have been reluctant to return it, but shall try to copy down as much of the stuff I need, or indeed track down an original copy for myself.

It is exactly a week ago since I made my inaugural batch of soap (sage and cucumber) and while it has one more week to cure, I thought I would turn my hand to another batch to use up the complement of tallow I had produced (the pure white fat rendered from beef offcuts) and take the eggs we can’t use, blow them, and use the shells, as instructed by dear Polly, to make Spiced Egg Soap.

The method is pretty straight forward: you prepare the egg shells by pricking holes in both ends, blowing the contents out, rinsing and then baking the shells in a slow oven for half an hour. You then have to cover one end with tape and pop the shell into an egg cup—et voila—a mould! The soap is also deceptively simple: combine a caustic soda and water mixture with the tallow and then add the fragrant oils (in this case clove and cinnamon), a measure of dried turmeric and a goodly portion of rape seed oil (of which I had none, so I used sweet almond oil).

As with last time, I was just amazed at how much of a chemistry experiment this is, and how it just seems to work. I was flying solo this time (Chris was not here to help check the instructions again for me or measure, add or beat as the need arose) and I did note two things. One was that I should never attempt this in a closed room. It was warm out today, and so I had the doors closed and the air conditioning on. Not a good idea. As soon as I started to stir the caustic soda into the cold water, the vapours got to me, so I quickly ran and flung open the doors. The second was that, after I managed to complete everything (having worn the requisite safety gear—gloves and apron) I must have had a smidge of caustic on my hand which I rubbed onto my upper lip. I noticed it as I sat down to blog—a dull, burning sensation, so I jumped up, grabbed the bottle of white vinegar and, over the bathroom basin, splashed it liberally over the area. Instant relief!

I had doubled the quantities indicated in the book and accordingly was only anticipating six eggs’ worth of soap. Magically I ended up with eight, and enough mixture to pour into four sections of a silicon muffin tray. Mucho jabón! (OK I looked that up…I was going to say mucho soapo but thought the better of it!)

Like I said at the start, the house smells amazing, but I am having second thoughts about why turmeric is included as one of the ingredients—after all—this is the very spice that stains almost everything it touches, and it is in the soap. I can see potential for my washed hands to become smooth and fragrant and positively aurulent  😀

The recipe has been posted on a newly created RECIPE tab here:


4 thoughts on “Soap in an eggshell

  1. Hey Dan! I have not gone searching on the net yet, but to help you along, the publication details are: Home-made and at a fraction of the cost by Polly Pinder, Search Press Ltd, 1983. ISBN (UK): 0 85532 530 5

  2. Well, I couldn’t find a new copy of the book – but I did find a book in very good condition on Amazon for a total of $4.49! (includes shipping) I have to say that it is a fraction of the cost : )

  3. Well done you! Since my foray into soap making I have been searching the net for other recipes and it seems that it’s not necessarily supposed to be as easy as I found it first up! But then I guess that’s the beauty of older recipes—created when people were probably a bit more fearless! Let me know how you go!

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