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Friday, May 07, 2010

Extracting Lanolin

With Donkey now sheared, I decided to take on another task I have been meaning to do the extraction of lanolin from the wool.

Lanolin is that thick ear wax looking stuff that is stuck to the wool and the skin of your sheep. You can feel it all greasy over your hands. Why yes, that is sheep sweat you are using. Makes you really want to put that chap stick on doesn't it?

First step is to build a fire outside and stuff the freshly shown wool into a large pot along with water and 1 -2 tablespoons salt. Simmer this for several hours, adding water as needed.

Here comes a problem, the Kansas wind. It has been a busy bee as of late, and a fire isn't prudent. We couldn't keep the water boiling. So I scoured the internet and through my books, all they say is to boil the water and if you have a large amount of wool, you might think about doing it outside with a large kettle. ok. . . good advice.

However. . . you knew this was coming didn't you?

I brought the pot inside and place it on the stove. Brought it to a boil and let it go. After awhile I could smell the wool, it wasn't awful, just smelled like a dirty wet sweater. I left it boiling and went outside to deal with the new sheep which we are trying to break a little of their wild streak in them. They are big over-reactors, never been handled in their life, and don't trust people at all.

I came back in and...oh my. . . gag. . .what. . .gag. . I can't. . . gag. . .

I stepped back out the door to get some fresh air. It was almost like boiling cabbage, where you have this disagreeable smell, yet an underlying order that makes you hungry, but 10x worse.

The house was open, but that didn't alleviate the smell. I opened the doors wide, putting up baby gates to keep the goats and turkeys out. I stayed out of the house, only entering to check the level of water.

For some reason the smell was tolerable to Medium who was playing on the computer when I came back into the house to strain the wool. As I poured, and gagged to the brink of vomiting, he asked me what was wrong.

uckgagwoogagukool (gasp) stiukgagukinksgag (gasp) was my reply.

So no matter what the books tell you, Never do it in the house.

Once it has drained and the wool will no longer burn you, squeeze it out into another pot. Take said (not as stinking) pot, and simmer it until it reduces. This is where I am at right now. It doesn't smell so bad, and is in the oven reducing. We will touch back on this subject soon.


HermitJim said...

Sounds like a smelly job! I'll be interested in what you use the finished product for!

I love to come over here and learn stuff! Thanks for posting this!

Stephanie said...

This is cool to learn because vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is made from lanolin. A question I get asked often at work and I have to explain where lanolin comes from. I now have a glimpse into what it takes to get that lanolin.

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Oh my, that was just too funny to read!!! :) Thanks for the lesson and the laugh!

The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

So funny how M did not get bothered by the smell. I never had a clue HOW lanolin was produced. Knew where it came from, just not the process. Now I know. Very cool- a little fiction and fact from The Homesteading Neophyte's almanac....
(the phrase came to mind instantly as I wrote this. Its just a funny lil ditty my FIL say's when he does one of those "did you know..." moments.) :)

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