Everything is better with bacon—even soap! No; it’s not soap that looks like bacon. It’s not bacon-scented soap. Look, you’re overthinking this: It’s soap made of bacon. Hence the name: BACON. SOAP. Clear?
- 16 oz. rendered bacon drippings
- 9.14 oz. coconut oil
- 6.87 oz. castor oil
- 13.71 oz. olive oil
- 15.09 oz. distilled water
- 6.14 oz. lye
- 3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp
If you’ve never made soap before, don’t start here. Go learn the basics first from sites like SoapmakingForum.com. Making your own soap is a lot of fun, but you have to know how to handle lye and hot oils safely and with proper tools and ventilation.
I make my own soap, but I haven’t posted any soap recipes here before. That’s mostly because I use DoTerra essential oils in my soap, which makes it pretty expensive, but also because other than using DoTerra oils I’m just using recipes I’ve collected online.
Until this recipe. Since the first time I tried it I discovered lots of other folks thought of making bacon soap before I did, but I didn’t know that. I had fun experimenting with this until I was satisfied with the results, so here goes!
I was making bacon-wrapped dates a few months ago, a recipe that involves slicing thick-cut bacon in half, wrapping a half slice around each date, and sticking a skewer through it. When I was done I washed all the raw bacon fat off my hands, then noticed my hands were soft and smooth and moisturized, and best of all: They smelled like bacon!
It got me to wondering if I could make soap with bacon fat. Like all God-fearin’ right-thinkin’ Murkins, I save bacon dripping and keep a container of it in the fridge. After adding the drippings from the bacon-wrapped dates, I had about 1 1⁄2 pounds of drippings, so I started with a basic soap recipe that included a pound of lard, and replaced the lard with bacon drippings.
Bacon drippings have lots of impurities, though: little flecks of meat, burned fat, salt, caramelized sugars and so on. This stuff is what makes bacon drippings so delicious if you’re making pie crust or gravy or whatever, but I’m pretty sure it would cause a lot of trouble in a soap recipe. Adding salt to soap batter makes it cure faster, for instance, but too much makes the soap harsh and crumbly. I don’t know how the other impurities would affect to the soap batter, but I guess they would probably interfere to some extent with saponification, making the soap too soft, liable to get rancid or otherwise unusable.
From here the recipe took some experimenting:
- I had to render the drippings to remove impurities that would ruin the recipe, but…
- I didn’t want to render all the impurities until it was basically just lard again, meaning I had to find a workable balance between lard and drippings, and…
- I wanted to see if I could use bacon bits as an exfoliant.
Rendering any fat is pretty simple, if not speedy:
- Melt the fat
- Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer to filter out the little crumbs of meat and burned fat and other detritus
- Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer for about half an hour
- Cool it in the fridge overnight, scoop off the fat, pour off the nasty, salty brown water left behind, then
- Add more water and do it again.
I followed this process three times until the water came out (mostly!) clear.
No essential or fragrance oils for this soap, but I did want a little bit of exfoliant, texture, and fragrance from the bacon itself. I took three cooked pieces of thick-cut bacon and chopped it up into bacon bits.
I didn’t want the bacon bits to get rancid either, so I baked them in a strainer at 180° until no more fat came out, then lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and baked them some more.
Once the bacon bits were dried out, I used a coffee grinder to pulverize half of it it down to the consistency of kosher salt.
From here, I melted the rendered bacon drippings, mixed in the other oils (coconut oil, olive oil and castor oil), added my water/lye mixture, whipped up it with a stick blender, stirred in the bacon bits/exfoliant, then poured it into my soap molds (these steps are where you need to know soapmaking basics, so once again, try a batch or two with instructions from SoapmakingForum.com before you try this recipe.)
Leave the soap in your molds for a few days to cure; put it in a covered container or box in a cool, dry area. Demold and cut the soap into bars; store in a closed container again for more curing. It will be usable in a couple weeks, but if you let it cure for six weeks to two months you’ll be glad you did: You’ll have firm bars that don’t crumble, deform or dissolve too fast.
The soap smells wonderful and the bacon bits are a great exfoliant!