Plaiting Soap

Plaiting Soap

Yesterday I cooked up a new batch of plaiting soap…well altered a batch that I had made a little while ago.  I had heard that some people use plaiting soap that’s just a paste of soap and water (no fat or lard).  I made a batch and tried it out, what I didn’t like about it was that it was slick right after you applied it, but then it quickly got very tacky feeling.   However the soap paste didn’t discolor the whip at all when I got to the point of the bullwhip.

So yesterday I took the soap paste and added some water and lard and cooked it up.  


Plaiting soap
Plaiting soap

One thing I’ve learned when mixing up plaiting soap is after it’s cooked together and it is cooling the water/soap/lard wants to seperate.   So about halfway through the cooling process you need to mix it up, then mix it again when it’s almost solid.  

With the batch of of soap paste I did a little experiment, I cut a fall and let it sit in the paste overnight. It softened up the fall and gave it a nice smooth texture.  I might try soaking some falls in the plaiting soap with lard and see what that does. 


4 thoughts on “Plaiting Soap

  1. Hey Louie,
    You use lard? As in pig fat from the supermarket?

    Hummm, I used to use lard as well, but it would darken the leather a lot so I swithced to beef fat, which doesn’t darken the leather as much.

    I’m surprised though, ’cause your whips don’t look very dark…


  2. I use lard from the supermarket. I’ve found that it only really tends to start darkening the 2nd half of the whip.

    For about the last year I’ve been using Dubbin’ and that doesn’t really darken the whip too much.

  3. I used to use lard as well, but on a natural hide whip, the leather would go from that almost-white color of natural dry hides to a nutty brown that looks like a four-year old whip! I spoke at leangth about this to many whipmakers and the concensus was that it was the lard I was using in making my plaiting soap that did this. Beef fat was suggested and with much hesitation, I tried the beef fat. I have to tell you it is like night and day from the lard! It is a pain to make because the lard is already clean and ready to be melted, while the beef fat needs to be transformed into clean cream-like fat from the butcher’s and this requires many steps to achieve. Still, the results are there… So if you ever want to try the beef fat, go ahead in confidence, it works great!


  4. That’s what I liked about using the dubbin is that it didn’t really discolor the whip…but it’s a lot more expensive than making my own soap ($50 per gallon vs about $6 per gallon). My plan is to keep using the dubbin on the natural tan whips and go with plaiting soap for the other colors.

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