Wild Rose {Old-Fashioned} Lard Soap

Wild Rose Lard Soap

Making lard soap… is there anything more homestead-y than that? Karl’s grandma (a real-deal homesteader and farmer) tells a story about how when she was young, she would bring home the used tallow from the fryers at the local diner she worked at, and they would make big batches of tallow soap cooked in a kettle over an open fire at their farm. I just love that story.

Maybe they did it out of necessity, or maybe they did it because they were resourceful farmers who didn’t let anything go to waste. Or maybe they did it because they had good taste; they were eating french fries cooked in tallow after all… which I think says a lot!

Karl’s grandma passed away recently- she was 87 years old and tough as nails to the very end- a true homesteader through and through. I am sharing this lard soap recipe in her memory.


Soaps made from animal fat have a creamy luxurious lather, and in my opinion, they have the perfect amount of cleansing and moisturizing… the Goldilocks of soap! Plus, making lard soap is a great way to practice using the whole animal and not letting go to waste parts that are often looked at by some as less desirable.

Want to render your own lard? My full instructions here, including why I WON’T use a slow cooker to render lard!

Lard Soap Making 101

Don’t Fear the Lye, But Do Respect It

Want to make lard soap but you’re afraid to use lye? Let me stop you right there- don’t be.

The first time I made soap I was terrified. I was cautious and followed all the directions… and of course I had no problems at all. The second time I made soap, it was soooo much easier. I was comfortable with the lye. I mean, not dangerously-disregard-the-rules-kinda comfortable, but I knew what to expect, and it wasn’t a big deal.

Don’t let fear of lye be the reason you don’t make soap- learn to safely handle it, and make all the soap your heart desires. And trust me, your heart will desire this soap!

And on that note, if you’re new to soap making, make sure and read through these instructions completely and way ahead of time, and probably more than once. My Wild Rose Lard Soap is a very easy soap recipe, and I wrote these instructions with the beginner soap-maker in mind.

Soap making is not hard, but it does require that you pay attention to detail.

I gained SO MUCH confidence in soap-making and working with lye by reading through Simple and Natural Soap Making by Jan Berry. This book changed my whole relationship with soap-making. Not only are the instructions easy to understand and safety conscious, but the soap recipes are simple but inspired. This is a fantastic book!

Above are the Vanilla Bean & Egg Yolk (yes egg yolk!) flower soaps that I made from Jan’s book, Simple and Natural Soap Making…And these flower molds were wonderful to work with and would be great for this Wild Rose Lard Soap as well!

General Rules for Soap Making

Always, always run the recipe through a lye calculator, no matter where the recipe is from. Yes, even this one. Human and printing errors are not uncommon, and it’s good practice to always double check.

NEVER substitute fats or oils, or alter the water or lye amount (unless you are a seasoned soap-making pro). You must rework a recipe if you need to change one of these components because each different type of fat requires a different amount of lye. This is a big soaping no-no.

Protect yourself: wear long sleeves, goggles, and rubber gloves. In my opinion this isn’t an activity to involve young kids in. If you have pets that like to counter surf or linger around your feet in the kitchen, lock them out while you work.

Use dedicated equipment- most pros recommend you don’t use the same equipment for soap making as you do for food preparation.

An accurate digital scale and an immersion blender are essential to soap-making.

Do NOT use aluminum, cast iron, or non-stick containers or utensils when working with lye.

Ingredients & Equipment for Wild Rose Lard Soap

Lye (buy here online)
I had a hard time finding the correct lye at my local hardware and farm supply stores, so I ordered it online. I read all the reviews on multiple brands and settled on this one. Glad I did- I have made several batches of soap with it now and they have all turned out wonderful and as expected. This type is nice because it is “micro-beads” and easier to work with than the finer powder or flakes of lye- which are more likely to go airborne. This type is food-grade, which means it is less likely to have impurities that could mess up your batch of soap.

Lard (instructions for rendering your own or buy here online)
You want good quality, hand-rendered lard for this soap. Not the really cheap kind that comes in a one-pound block that you can find at most grocery stores, which often has additives like BHA and BHT.

Do not use lard with additives.

The better quality your ingredients, the better quality your finished product will be.

However, soap-making is a great way to use up lard that maybe smells a little porky, or got a little darker than you intended during rendering- those smells will go away during the soaping process.

Coconut Oil (buy here online)
You can use any type of pure coconut oil for this soap, and no worries- the smell of coconut won’t come through in the soap.

The coconut oil is to give the bar a little extra lather. Lard by itself doesn’t have that much lather, so the coconut oil makes this a much better bar than lard alone in my opinion. This recipes makes a bar that has a creamy and luxurious lather.

Rosewood Essential Oil (buy here online)
If you have an essential oil brand you love, great, use it! I am not affiliated with any brands myself- I use and love a few different ones. You can also omit the Rosewood Essential Oil from this soap recipe if you’d like.

Rosewood has a scent that is warm, woodsy, and floral. And the amount used in this recipe is such that the overall scent in the soap is very faint- it smells lightly of walking through a patch of wild roses at the forest’s edge. It’s one of my personal favorite scents! And it is reported to have a lot of beneficial properties for your skin as well.

Rose Clay (buy here online)
This clay adds a natural, gorgeous, rosy pink color to your soap. It also has beneficial properties for your skin. This is the only coloring agent I used in this soap recipe- and I think it turned out beautifully!

If you want a less feminine option, I’ve also made this soap recipe with French Green Clay (in the same amount and using the same technique as the recipe below indicates) which also turns out lovely, so go ahead and substitute that if you’d like.

You can also omit the clay entirely, though I think it is part of what makes this such a great bar of soap!

Dried Rose Petals (buy here online)
You may be able to buy these in a smaller quantity in the bulk section of your local natural food store. Or go out and collect and dry your own! …just make sure they weren’t sprayed with anything. Pink crabapple blossoms also dry to a pretty pinky color and would be a good substitute to try, and no one would even know they weren’t roses.

Use the rose petals sparingly. I picked out the prettiest, pinkest ones and used about 8-10 small rose heads for this batch of soap.

Digital Scale (buy here online)
Soap ingredients are always measured by weight, not volume. An accurate digital scale is essential for soap-making- and luckily they are very inexpensive nowadays.

I like to always have backup extra batteries for it (would hate for it to die in the middle of measuring things!), and I make sure it is weighing accurately by using the methods outlined here.

Immersion Blender (buy here online)
While this isn’t totally necessary for soap-making (your grandma probably didn’t have one!) it is… well, necessary in my opinion. I haven’t made soap without one, so I can’t give you instructions for that, but I have heard that it takes HOURS of hand-whisking to do what this blender does in 5 minutes. Absolutely worth it.

While you should have a dedicated immersion blender for soap-making (I do), if you’re not going to heed my advice here, this is a good one to get because the head is removable, allowing you to safely soak it in the sink for a long period of time.

Thermometer (buy here online)
I can’t say enough about an infrared thermometer. It allows you to take the temperature of both your lye and fats without having to touch them or dirty a thermometer probe. Also surprisingly inexpensive!

You could also use a regular digital kitchen/meat thermometer, but again you would want it to be dedicated to soap-making.

Goggles & Gloves
We always keep a big box of rubber nitrile gloves on hand (see what I did there?) for various homesteading tasks. You will need several pairs for soap-making in case you need to take them off at anytime, like to use the bathroom or itch your nose.

Goggles should be actual safety goggles and not safety glasses- the difference is that goggles protect your eyes from spills and splashes, where as glasses do not. Lye isn’t something you want to chance.

Soap Molds (buy loaf molds here online, buy flower molds here online)
This is the fun part! What do you want your soap to look like? While I love the feel of a good soap bar, these flower soap molds were lovely. They were also very easy to work with- the soaps popped right out of them!

Various Containers

For Measuring Dry Lye: Dry lye can be weighed in a glass, plastic, stainless steel, or even a paper drinking cup. I prefer to use something disposable myself, like a large yogurt container or plastic cup.

For the Lye Water: This should be something made of stainless steel or #5 heavy duty plastic. When combining the lye and water, a reaction occurs which heats the solution to a very hot temperature… enough to shatter glass and even pyrex. I use a cheap medium-sized stainless steel kitchen bowl for this (just make sure your bowl is not aluminum).

For Combining the Lye Solution and Fats: The combined oils and lye can be mixed in plastic, pyrex, stainless steel, enamel, or ceramic. They are not very hot at this point, but they are still caustic.

I have a dedicated stainless steel pot that I heat my fats and mix my oils in, then I pour the lye water directly into that and mix them together right in the pot. This is nice because the pot has a flat bottom that allows the immersion blender to reach well, unlike a round bowl, which would make this harder.

Various Utensils & Equipment

Stainless Steel Spoon: Used for scooping lye from the container and into your dry lye measuring cup.

Stainless Steel Fork: Used for mixing the lye as you pour it into the water.

Rubber Spatula: For scraping every last bit of soap from the pot!

Teaspoon Measuring Spoon: For measuring the clay and essential oil; this doesn’t need to be dedicated to soap-only.

Small Bowl: For mixing the rose clay and water together; this doesn’t need to be dedicated to soap-only.

Paper Towels: For wiping out the soap pot after you’ve scraped it with the spatula. You do not want to put large amounts of fresh soap down your drain. Also dampen them and use for wiping down counters to pick up any granules of lye you might have spilled.

Box, Cutting Board, or Pan: Something to set the molds on, and transport the soap molds on, especially if you are using individual-style ones, like the flower molds.

Cutting Board & Sharp Knife: The sharper your knife, the smoother the bars will look. This does not need to be dedicated to soap-only.

Wild Rose Lard Soap

Wild Rose Lard Soap Recipe

I wrote these instructions so that a beginner could follow them and make soap successfully- you’ll notice that the instructions are rather long. As with anything detailed, I’d recommend reading the instructions through entirely, before you start. 

Wild Rose {Old Fashioned} Lard Soap Recipe
Soap weight 2.283 lbs, 5% superfat

9 oz (258.55g) distilled water
3.41 oz (96.69g) lye
19.2 oz (544.31g) lard
4.8 oz (136.08g) coconut oil
2-3 tsp rosewood essential oil
2 tsp rose clay combined with 1 Tbs distilled water
8-10 mini wild rose buds

1- PREPARE: Make sure you have everything prepared and easily accessible, including your soap molds. If using a wooden mold that needs to be lined with parchment, do that now.

Gather all your equipment and have it set out and ready to go. Put on protective gloves, long sleeves, and goggles.

2- WORKING WITH LYE: Dry lye can be weighed in a glass, plastic, or stainless steel. The water that you will combine with the lye should be measured into a #5 plastic or stainless steel container. (When combined with lye, it can heat up to over 200F quickly, which can shatter glass.) 

I use an older stainless steel spoon to transfer the dry lye into the measuring cup. Don’t use plastic, as have found it causes a static cling situation with the lye, which is not something you want.

Measure out the distilled water and place it in your bowl in the sink. Measure out the lye.

With a window open or ventilation, and working in the sink, slowly ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER, stirring with the fork as you add it.

Allow the lye to cool for about 30-40 minutes or until it reaches 100-110F.

Always add the lye to the water, do NOT add the water to the lye, or it could volcano. Make sure all the lye dissolves and isn’t stuck at the bottom of the container- this shouldn’t be a problem if you pour the lye in slowly and stir well while doing so.

Tip: An infrared thermometer is incredibly handy for soap-making! You just shoot the laser light at what you want to measure and it reads the temperature without having to stick a probe into anything. Before I had this I used a meat thermometer, which worked fine.

3- PREPARE THE FATS: Solid fats should always be melted in a double boiler or very slowly and carefully if over direct heat. Don’t overshoot melting them, or they won’t be cool enough by the time your lye water is ready.

Combine the lard and coconut oil and heat until JUST BARELY melted. 

4. COMBINE THE FATS AND LYE WATER: We want the melted fats and lye water to both be a similar temperature, around 100-110F when they are combined. In my experience making this particular soap, if you get the fats melting as soon as you are finished mixing up the lye water, and you don’t overheat the fats, they will have just enough time to cool and end around the same temperature as the lye at the same time.

When the melted fats and lye water are both around the same temperature of 100-110F, add the lye water to the fats.

It is okay if they vary a little from this- your lye water might be down in the 90s, while your fats are still around 110, which is okay for this recipe.

I have a dedicated stainless steel pot that I melt the fats in, and then I add the lye water right to that.

Other people use a dedicated stainless steel bowl or big #5 plastic cup for mixing the fats and lye together. If you go this route you could heat the lard and coconut oil in whatever you’d like, then pour it into your soap-only mixing container of choice and then add in the lye water.

With the immersion blender OFF, use the head of it to stir the fats and lye water together until they are just combined and no lye water is visible any longer. Then you can turn the immersion blender ON.

This is so you don’t get any lye water splashing or sputtering on you.

Immersion blenders can be tricky if you don’t understand them. You want to keep the head completely submerged while the motor is on, otherwise it can splatter on you. Remember, the soap is still caustic at this point, so if you get any on you, rinse it thoroughly with water right away.

If you’ve never used an immersion blender before, you should practice and test its temperament in a bowl of plain old water before you try making soap with it… so you know what to do and not do.

Stir the almost-soap until it reaches light trace, which can take anywhere from 2-10 mins.

Light trace means that when you drizzle a small bit of the mixture over the surface, it will leave a faint pattern or “trace” before sinking back into the mixture. Think pudding.

The soap is still caustic at this point, so be sure to continue wearing all safety equipment.

6. ADD THE EXTRAS: Once you’ve reached trace is when you stir in the oils and clay.

At trace, hand stir in 2-3 tsp of Rosewood Essential oil, and 2 tsp Rose Clay mixed with 1 Tbs distilled water. Use a spatula, not the immersion blender for this.

The clay tends to want to settle to the bottom of the water. Give it a stir right before pouring it into the soap.

A rubber spatula is the best tool for this job. Stir in the essential oil and clay water until the soap is uniform in color.

You can feel free to leave out the essential oil or clay in this recipe. This soap made with French Green Clay instead of the Rose Clay is also very lovely.

7. POUR INTO MOLDS: I hope you have your molds prepared already!

I have a homemade wooden soap mold that requires lining with parchment paper. I’ve also used these silicon ones with the wood support, and these flower molds as shown above- which don’t require any prep.

If you are using the flower molds or other individual molds, place them on a large sheet pan, cutting board, or in a box. It’s nice to have something rigid to support them, otherwise you won’t be able to move them because they are flimsy.

Carefully pour the soap into your molds, and use a spatula to scrape every last drop from the pan. 

If you’re using a loaf mold, use something like a plastic spoon or knife, or popsicle stick to smooth the top and add a decorative pattern.

Sprinkle on the crushed dried rose petals- use sparingly.

You can sprinkle a light layer all over the top, or a simple line of them down the middle or off to one side. If you are using the flower molds, sprinkle the crushed rose petals on the back of the soaps.

8. CURE THE SOAP: let it rest, and do note that it is still caustic at this point.

Set the soap in an area that is safe from pets and children, and over-eager soap enthusiasts. Keep out of direct sunlight, and allow the soap to stay in the mold for two days. After two days, remove the soap from the mold.

Longer is not better. If using the loaf mold, cut the soap into bars when it is firm enough to not stick to the cutting tool- for me this was right away after I un-molded it after the two days. If it seems very very soft, let sit un-molded for a day and try again.

You want to cut it within a day or two of un-molding, otherwise it will get harder and more difficult to cut.

Cure the bars on a cooling rack or sheet of wax paper for 5-6 weeks before using.

Stand them up on a short side so that as much surface area as possible is exposed to air. Turn them once every week to a different side down so that all of the edges get a chance to be exposed to air flow.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

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6 thoughts on “Wild Rose {Old-Fashioned} Lard Soap

  1. Hello!

    This recipe looks lovely and I would love to try out! The only think I’m wondering is if the lard can be replaced? I do have shea/mango butters – would those work?

    1. No, you can not replace or change the amount of fats in a soap recipe, you’d have to rework the entire recipe.

  2. Newbie here….I really appreciate this thanks! Do you think I could substitute the water for goat milk? And if so, would I need to change the volume?

  3. Thank you for the recipe.Made some today, but used turmeric powder instead of the clay,and had the water in the freezer overnight.My lard and oil was at 102°F after melting (did it on very low heat),but my lye solution was icy cold after melting. When checked the temperature it was at almost 45°F.Once I mixed the 2,a big blob formed immediately. It was very hard to mix and even harder to spoon it into my molds.
    Was wondering what exactly happened,as I’ve seen many people freezing the liquid for the lye to help with the temperature.
    I was planning on using goat milk next time.

    1. You put the lye water in the freezer overnight? I’ve never head of that… and don’t think it sounds like a good idea. The lye and fat are supposed to be the same temperature when mixed together.

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