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Oklahoma State Fair soapmaker takes visitors to another time

At the Oklahoma State Fair, soapmaker Deborraha Burnett uses soap recipes hundreds of years old to bring back memories for visitors.
BY NASREEN IQBAL Published: September 14, 2013

Sherri Copeland, 54, and her mother-in-law Peggy Copeland, 77, came from Tuttle to celebrate their September birthdays.

Peggy Copeland sees the soap being made and memories come tumbling out.

“We'd kill a hog and boil the lard,” she said. “Sometimes we'd save grease all year to make soap. It brings back good memories from when I was a little girl.”

The women pick up a recipe and vow to continue the tradition on their own.

Soap recipes

The recipe is for a modern concoction of lye and cold water that dates back 125 years. But the one Burnett makes at the fair is different.

It includes hot water, lye, sodium hydroxide, fat or oil and a natural base of either water or milk. The process, she said, is risky and shouldn't be used by beginning soapmakers.

“It's not what we do now,” she said. “But that doesn't mean it doesn't work. It's been around for 1,500 years.”