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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Have You Noticed How Expensive Detergent Has Become?

I can sew quite decently. I can paint almost any surface. I am handy enough with a hammer, saw, drill, etc. I don't cook a lot, but none of my family starved even when the cookies and chips ran out. So, I figured with a recipe for homemade laundry detergent...I can do that!
I got out the stock pot, which is the largest cookware we own, and began to assemble the ingredients. I had it all, didn't even have to go to the store. Baking soda: check. Borax: check. Washing soda: check. Water...yep, got that too. Bar of Fels Naphtha soap.
It was suggested that the bar of soap be cut in pieces and grated, run through the food processor or microwaved.
Hmmm. Mess up my food processor? or microwave it? No contest. If the directions say the soap expands when microwaved, then, place it in a plastic bowl! Microwave for 5 minutes, then in 15 second increments until the soap is completely melted. What could go wrong?
The bowl melted in less than a minute. The soap took longer. It also took a while to separate the melted soap from the melted bowl.
Finally I globbed the melty soap into the stock pot, added a cup of water, and turned the heat to simmer and began adding the dry ingredients. Almost immediately it began to scorch to the bottom of the pot. I added water and stirred, more water, stir...sticking, more water...at last I added about a gallon of water. I hopefully left the pot on simmer and went to do some other important things. You know, check my work site, my work email, my personal email while I was at it, Face Book, and a quick run through Pinterest while I was at the keyboard.
Back at the stove, the pot had "simmered" all over the stove top. Sticky glop adhered to the lid, to the rim, to the pot, to the burner and everything around it. I pulled off the lid and poked at the stuff with a long wooden spoon. Now the spoon was coated, too. ARGH! I set the pan off the heat and replaced the lid.
When the stovetop cooled I began trying to clean the mess. I wiped at it with a sponge...no dice. I covered it with soaked paper towels. No effect. Scrubbies. Little effect. I finally got out a heavy steel spatula with a sharp edge and began to pare it away. It took hours.
The next morning the lid had to be pried open. Inside the stock pot was a watery soup with a thick, gunk island bobbing around. I considered my options, and put a cooling rack in the bottom of a clothes basket which I placed in front of the stove. I broke the island into gunky chunks and put them on the rack to dry. The watery goo went into a detergent container. I'll find a use for it. It is bound to be a really bad example of something. The stock pot is clean as a whistle, though. Whatever that means.
It was really cheap to make, as advertised, unless stirring time and cleaning time is included. All in all I think I'll continue buying expensive detergent on sale with coupons. On the other hand maybe it was worth the laugh on a tense Boston Marathon week.