Creepy critters and soapy issues

Temperatures are on the way down and our daylight hours are about to get one hour shorter. This has created an unusual problem for Paul from Northland who has this question: “The colder weather is bringing uninvited guests into the house – rats, mice and ants! I do not want to use expensive poisons. Does anyone have any suggestions how I can keep these pesky critters out of the house?”

Margaret from Invercargill has a tip. “A remedy for aches and pains (that also removes toxins from the body) is to sprinkle one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of epsom salts into a warm bath. A good soak really works.”

She also has a question, “Does anyone have a recipe for making soap?”

That question reminds us of a great soapy yarn (and warning) as told by a young onlooker. It is one we have written about before but it’s worth repeating!

Dad had one of his bright ideas. The idea wasn’t original, but it was for Dad – he didn’t have bright ideas very often! Off to the local library he went. Back he came with an Aunt Daisy soap-making recipe. As proud as a peacock at a garden party, he said he was going to show us all how to make soap, and in the process show us how clever he was.

Off to the kitchen he went. That was strange enough in itself – to see Dad clanging pots and pans was a real sight. We peeped through the outside window. Dad pretended not to notice.

Into one of Mum’s biggest pots he put some rendered animal fat he had collected from home kills. Before too long the fat was at a boil. Things appeared to be going quite well, and judging by the smirk on Dad’s face we could tell he thought he had it sussed – that is until he added caustic soda and Lux flakes to the pot. The boiling solution immediately expanded in size and frothed up and up and over the pot. “Blooming heck!” said Dad (what he actually said was much worse, but this is a family column!). We crept lower behind the windowsill.

Unfortunately for Dad the frothing solution kept growing; onto the stove it erupted, the molten solution flowing along the bench, into some drawers, and onto the floor.

Right about this moment Dad panicked. He grabbed the overflowing pot and took the shortest route to the nearest exit, crashing over and through furniture in the process. As he burst through an open door he heaved the still foaming pot onto the front lawn. It is fair to say that we were keeping a low profile.

Back into the house dad stormed. “That blooming Aunt Daisy!” he said as he disappeared back into the kitchen. We beat a hasty retreat to a neighbour’s place. It was some hours before we dared go near the house again. By then things had returned to their normal state – at least as normal as things could be. No one ever said anything about Dad’s soap making idea, and Dad never tried to make soap again.

For the record here is Aunt Daisy’s soap-making recipe: 5 lb clean fat; 1 tin caustic soda; 1 lb resin; 1 small packet soap-flakes; and 30 cups of water. Put all the ingredients into a kerosene tin and begin to heat. When nearly boiling watch carefully, and when it just comes to the boil, take it off the heat and put it outside. Stir often while cooling.

Ray from Tauranga has this suggestion for soap. “When your soap is too small to use don’t throw it out. Save it in a dish and when you have what you think is enough, finely chop up the pieces, place into an old saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Stir and simmer, then pour into blocks and let it cool. There you have it – more soap!”