Making Braiding Soap

Braiding soap – or any other kind of grease useful for this purpose- is a basic and necessary part of leather whipmaking to have a good and tight work.
It can also be used for braiding leather items or to maintain any other leather products.

These are its main applications:

1) Conditioning and reinforcing the leather
2)Lubricating the leather so that you can pull tightly the strands and slide easily the other strands over and under and pull them into the other leather strands already braided.

Here below you can find one of the simplest and most basic recipe to make a very good braiding soap.
All of the ingredients are either in your kitchen or can be easily and inexpensively bought at your supermarket/ grocery.

The parameters and ingredients of this recipe can be modified according to the desired result (lower or higher density, addition of further emollients etc …).

Here below what you’ll need:

  • A pot, a spoon, a cheese grater
  • A bar of Marseille soap 63gr (let it dry a week before starting, it will be easier to grate it).
  • A glass of water
  • One pound of 250 gr lard
  • A robust and sturdy container with a sealing closure (to best preserve your braided soap).

Here below what to do:

  1. Grate the piece of 63 gr. of soap directly into the pot.
  2. Pour 200 ml. of water in the pot.
  3. Turn on the gas over medium-medium heat, stirring frequently until the soap is completely dissolved.
  4. Once boiling is reached, pour the 250gr lard into the pan. Stirring often until the lard is completely dissolved. At this stage, be careful not to boil the solution too much.
  5. Carefully pour (pay attention not to burn yourself) into the storage container and continue stirring the plaiting soap about once every half hour until it starts to cool enough to make it difficult to mix.
  6. Once this is done, seal the lid and wait for the mixture to solidify overnight.

Warning: When you are not using your braiding soap: always keep the lid on!

As written before, this is just one of the simplest recipes. It does work well and the ingredients are easily available.
Some Whipmakers use the same ingredients but in slightly different quantities, others stay with a similar formula but use different animal fats or soaps, others  add other ingredients to achieve a particular scent, others have their unique and personal recipe.
Feel free to experiment with some ideas of your own as well, and leave me a comment if you have any questions or make any interesting discoveries!

And Now: let’s cook !!!

Giovanni Celeste


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