All right, this is a really yucky post. I have heard and read about how traditional spinners used to wash fleeces in urine to get them really clean. The theory (or maybe science) behind it is that the alkalinity of the ammonia in the urine reacts with the lanolin in the wool to make a very basic kind of soap. This soapy mess then cleans the wool.
Wool scoured in this way is then rinsed (multiple times, I imagine) to get rid of the smell. The resulting wool is soft and unfelted apparently. It also removes a lot more vegetable matter than other kinds of washing (according to the hype). I want to give this method a try, but not anywhere near the house.
This experiment needs;
A big tub with a lid: Thanks to a quick thinking husband, I found one of our fire safety bins (not so useful in the rain) and gave it a good scrub.
A raw fleece: One of the partial fleeces I have in my stash should be small enough to fit in the container.
A water source for rinsing: The garden hose has a 30 metre stretch and gives nice hot water on a warm day.
A place away from the house to minimise the awful smell it will no doubt produce: The far end of the yard, behind the garden bed will have to be far enough.
A whole lot of pee: It is just as well the urine should be aged for this, as there is no way our family can produce enough to fill this tub in a day or so. We use a bucket for night time pee trips (so we don’t have to go outside and wake the dogs and sheep up), so I just began to collect that pee in my handy bin instead of tipping it out way up the paddock.
The fleece is soaked in the urine for about a day (two if it’s really dirty), then the whole lot is tipped out and the fleece rinsed multiple times to take out any remaining smell.
The fleece is spun out in the washing machine and spread out to dry on a sheet in the sun.
My final immpression is that this is an effective way to clean a fleece if you have no soap. It does seem to stop the fleece felting and the wool is cardable and as soft as can be expected from a course fleece. The smell really put me off though. I think I will try washing a whole fleece with soap nuts again, but do the two day soak.