Save on drying time if you follow this procedure immediately after washing your wool but before drying it. If you have machine-washable wool you can move directly from the washer to this protocol:
3. Mug & something to stir with (spoon, chopsticks, mini-whisk)
1. Fill basin with tepid water (around 90°F).
2. Fill your mug with hot water but leave some room so you don’t spill when stirring. If the water is too hot, sometimes the emulsion will separate so you want hot water but it's not necessary for it to be boiling hot. Just hot enough to melt the lanolin and soap. 140-150ºF is perfect (60-65C).
Using ~4-6 fluid ounces of water is usually more than enough water. This keeps the solution concentrated and eliminates the need for excessive amounts of emulsifying soap (I usually measure the water and microwave it in the mug to get it nice and hot but hot tap water usually works too).
3. Add ¼ teaspoon-1 Tablespoon solid lanolin to the hot water (depending on how heavily you want to lanolize---more for extra wetness protection). A good starting point is 1 teaspoon per garment.
4. While you wait for the lanolin to melt, add your emulsifying agent; a few drops of wool or baby wash, an emulsifying cubes, or a chunk of emulsifying soap. If you use the emulsifying soap sold at Yooki or Sweet Tea 'N Biscuits, I find that using 4-5 grams of soap/teaspoon of solid lanolin does the job. Sometimes you'll need a more soap if you're using a scented e-soap because of the increased oil load. Allow the emulsifying soap or cubes to sit for a minute or two until dissolved.
5. When the Soap and lanolin are melted you can begin stirring.
6. Stir and keep stirring until your mixture becomes milky and the lanolin goes into solution. To be certain, you can let it rest for a minute to check for un-emulsified lanolin (a thin yellow film that will float to the top of the solution).
7. If after 30 seconds of stirring the yellow lanolin is still floating on top; add more emulsifying agent a little at a time until the lanolin is emulsified and goes into solution leaving NO yellow film behind.
8. Pour the mug of emulsified lanolin into the basin and stir with your hand. Be sure the water bath isn’t above 104°F after adding the hot water/lanolin. If the bath feels too hot let it sit until it feels tepid.
9. Add your clean wool knits that are already wet. Adding dry wool to the lanolin bath can result in lanolin spots or uneven lanolin coverage.
10. Keep fully submerged by weighing them down with something (ceramic mugs work well).
11. Soak for 15 minutes or hours depending on when it’s convenient for you to finish.
12. Gently squeeze out the wool.
13. Lay wool flat on a dry towel; roll up the towel; stand or push on the rolled towel to squeeze out the water.
Alternative option to cut down drying time-Put the wet wool into your washing machine on a “spin only” cycle to remove excess water. If you can regulate the spin speed, choose something low/moderate.
Do not ring/twist the water out of your wool; this may cause stretching.
14. Lay flat to air dry. Avoid hanging it to dry as this can cause stretching.
15. Discard lanolin water outside and not down your drain (storm drain, yard, etc. I use it to water my citrus trees). Repeated dumping of lanolin down your drains can and will cause major plumbing issues.
Notes on supplies
- Lansinoh lanolin can be used if you don’t have access to anything else
- If you really like for your wool to be scented after washing/lanolizing the most potent thing you can use is scented solid lanolin. Yooki stocks these in larger containers and also in a scented sampler set (try 6 scents!)
Also see our post on wool washing