Soap cooking in Å

20 July 2023

In the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, at the tip of West Lofoten, we tell about life in a fishing village. We have started a tradision with soap cooking in Å.

Everyday life in fishing villages has traditionally been about sustainability and recycling.

The families in Lofoten were fisherman farmers. They had sheep and cows, some also had land for farming.

When the animals were slaughtered in the fall, the tallow from the stomach was used to boil soap. The soap was used for cleaning, e.g. as scouring soap and for washing clothes.

Talg med kniv på trebord.
Fat from animals.

There are several different recipes for soap cooking.

You will need grease/oil and lye-water mixture to make soap. You can get fat from animals (tallow), or you can use vegetable oil.

The cooking has begun.

You can make lye from ash from wood, or buy caustic soda from the store.

We have begun a tradition of soap making at the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. We want to show the method and share the knowledge we have learned through the process of trying different ways.

The first experimental soap making took place on June 27. We have used sheep tallow and caustic soda/water mixture for soap cooking.

First we have boiled the tallow and got out pure tallow/fat. We measured up water and soda to fit the amount of pure tallow.

Pure fat.

The water must be cold. It is important to add caustic soda to the water, and never water to the soda. It can explode in your face!

It’s started!

We added the mix to the tallow and started to boil it.

We used a mixer to mix together the tallow and lye, it became smooth and thick.

We then cooked the soap to the consistency as pudding, later as mashed potatoes.

The soap tickens with cooking.

We have let it in a mold, and it rest overnight.

The next day we split it up and now we can use the soap for laundry.

The soap is ready!

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