I am utterly saddened by the number of people who rely on an electric dishwashing appliance to clean their dishes on a daily basis. This trend is causing the art of hand washing to quickly fade and it is in danger of being completely forgotten. Soon to be lost are the nuances that are paramount to the art. In the following paragraphs I will attempt to log these details in hopes that some record of the hand washing art will survive.
I shall begin with the detergent that is required. For without the proper detergent the entire process is diminished to the level of a rank amateur. The proper detergent for hand washing dishes is lye soap. But not just any lye soap will do and it must be manufactured from the proper ingredients. The base ingredients for genuine hand washing lye soap are as follows. Fat rendered from hogs that are more than twelve months, but less than fourteen months of age. These hogs must also have only been fed a mixture of yellow corn mash and egg shells. The fat from these animals will be of the highest quality and essential for making the proper lye soap. The wood ashes for the soap should be obtained by burning only red oak timber that has been air dried for at a minimum of three years. Care must be exercised so that no knots are burnt in the process. For the knots will foul the ash mixture and render the resulting soap all but useless for hand washing. If none of the soap making artisans in your area are capable or willing to meet these requirements, then you must resort to mail order or self-manufacture. Self-manufacturing being far too involved for the scope of this article.
The required cloth for both the washing and the drying of dishes is best obtained from antique pre-WWII flour sacks. These are becoming exceeding rare, but the expense for this cloth is a small price to pay for the art. These cloths are 100% cotton and were made on looms that are no longer in service. It is also speculated that the flour once stored in these sacks imparted a particular quality to the cloth that there is no way of replicating with modern manufacturing techniques.
A scouring brush will prove useful from time to time. As with the other items, the type of brush employed will either elevate or completely destroy the quality of the artistic process. The proper brush can no longer be obtained from any known source and therefore must be fabricated by the artist. The dried roots of a three year old wild dogwood tree are required for the manufacture of this brush. There are several opinions as to the correct number of dried roots that should be bound to create the brush. Generally the number of roots required ranges from one hundred to one hundred twelve. I favor a brush made with exactly one hundred and seven roots that are all of the exact same diameter bound with sisal twine.
This brings me to the water. Two basins will be required. One for the washing and another for the rinsing. The former needs to be brought to exactly 150deg. At this temperature the lye soap is added and allowed to dissolve. The water then must be cooled to, and maintained at, 120deg before any washing can begin. The rinse water is equally important and must be maintained at exactly 170deg. It is important to obtain a minimum of two quality thermometers in order to monitor and adjust the water temperature.
Now that I have listed the proper implements and supplies I will describe the actual hand washing art. Only one item should be in the soap and water mixture at any time. For all pots, pans and circular dishes a clockwise scrubbing motion must be utilized. Many amateurs will use all manner of scrubbing strokes and as such destroy that art form. For utensils the proper stroke is away from your body working from the handle of the utensil to it’s tip. It is also very important that the utensil be completely submerged in the wash water during the entire process.
The items are then fully immersed into the rinse water for exactly 6.5 seconds. Then removed from the water and held above the rinse basin for a further 2 seconds. The item is then immediately dried with the aforementioned cloth. Many an amateur will employ drying racks. Please do not follow this poor example. Endeavor to maintain the artistic process.
I hope that you have found the above information both informative and inspiring. At the very least, I hope that it has encouraged you to abandon the use of the electric dishwashing machine. The art of hand washing dishes is something that is far too valuable to let slip away into the annuls of time and must be preserved. I encourage you to take up this highly rewarding and useful art form so that you too will have clean dishes.
The preceding is complete and utter nonsense and I hope that you recognize it as such. Any similarity to the woodworking world is intentional and meant to provoke thought. While I understand the value in preserving traditional methods, they are not always the be all to end all. I also believe that some woodworking can transcend the common and become art. That being said, creating and making are what I find more important. I approach woodworking with practicality. Using the tools that I have and exploring techniques to find what works for me. As budget or necessity dictate, I’ll further explore tools and materials. Sometimes my tools and methods are in-line with “expert” opinion but, more often than not, they are not. Even so, somehow I still manage to build things from wood.
I’ll bet you can do the same.