How to make lye out of woodashes, how to make soap molds : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I would like to find out how to make lye out of my wood ashes fromt he woodstove. Also, what makes the best soap molds? Does Crisco, melted down, make "tallow" better than animal fats? Anything other than caustic lye for soapmaking? Thanks!!

-- Michele Rae Padgett (, March 05, 2001


all you need is ashes, pour water thru them,, a filter to keep ashes out, and something non metal to hold it in. You can use crisco,, or any "fat" All will make a different texture of soap, as will the strength of the lye. And the lye from ashes IS caustic lye,, its the same thing, just made from a different process. As for molds,, you can use a pyrex baking dish and cut it,, or make a wooden mold, like a brick or loaf, then cut it. As for shapes,,make sure the molds can take the heat and or NON metal.

-- Stan (, March 05, 2001.

Stan wow you answered my question within anhour of me posting it!!! Thanks alot, I will try to make the lye today, as I am quite snowed in and I have a lot of ashes to work with. What is the ratio of lye to tallow?? I want to start off small and learn the process. Michele

-- Michele Rae Padgett (, March 05, 2001.

I buy the lye then you know the strength of it...I use a large clear rubbermaid container for a soap mold. Clear so I can see through if there are any lye bubbles or separations when I unmold. I rebatch into almost anything I like the shape of. You can use crisco, I never have so can't give you any recommendations, except that a few people have told me it's an easy first recipe.

-- Terri in NS (, March 05, 2001.

use a raw potatoe,, float it in the lye water,, is it floats half way,, its strong enough,, the use your recipe for soap. you can use weaker lye to make,, "runny" soap

-- Stan (, March 05, 2001.

My soap molds are made out of wood the size of the soap I want. Then I line them with plastic bags. That way the soap can be lifted right out in one peace and sliced in as big of bars as needed.

-- Linda (, March 05, 2001.

Just run water through the ashes into a collecting container. However, it is best to use it while fresh... Takes a little processing to make something you can store.

You can use any non-metal container for making soap - including an old shirt box with saran wrap (or such) as a liner. Mine are wood, but i have also used plastic dessert containers (like the ones fruit cocktail comes in in the hospital...) and even purchased ones. I wouldn't use plastic that I had to buy, though, cause you can generally only use it once or twice (I've actually used some a few times) before the solution eats it enough to cause cracks. DON'T use metal, though.... Chemical reactions - Ugh!!

-- Sue Diederich (, March 05, 2001.

My favorite fat to use is coconut oil, it's cheap and makes the best lathering soap possible. I have little individual plastic Rubbermaid containers that make a soap shaped bar, they are perfect for soap, the soap pops right out, and they have made a thousand or more bars so far, no sign of wearing out yet!!! Bought lye, it's cheap, 2.79 a container, makes for the most consistent quality soap, if you are going to REALLY use the stuff, at least start with it, then get adventurous later with making your own, this advice from my grandmother 30 years ago, as told to me. Have fun, soap making is a great and practical hobby!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, March 05, 2001.

There are two types of lye - soda lye or caustic soda or sodium hydroxide, and potash lye or potassium hydroxide (derived from, guess what, pot ashes).

The potash lye can be made by leaching ashes as described by others (you can also just pour water on the ashes, stir it round, then pour it off again as well) - again, use containers that won't be corroded. That's the original way - it doesn't make a consistent strength, and you'll have to use variable amounts depending on the strength - do searches on soap making to find out how to judge it. Search the archives as well - there should be some links in there. Potash lye makes a softer soap than soda lye - in fact, with potash lye and some oils, you may only get liquid soap - you may not be able to get it to set.

Soda lye only became available in the nineteenth century, when they started being able to electrolyse brine. You can buy caustic soda just about anywhere, it makes a firmer soap, it's a consistent strength because you buy it as a pure solid. It also keeps better than solid potassium hydroxide, which tends to absorb moisture from the atmosphere, and dissolve to form a super-concentrated caustic solution.

-- Don Armstrong (, March 05, 2001.

I like to use Crisco over other off brand shortenings. The Crisco makes a fine white soap, easy to color, no discoloration. I have made some with the off brand shortenings and got discoloration as well as a fried Okra smell. My boys love that soap!! I have only used store bought lye since I am relatively new to soap making. There is a good spot on with soap recipes as well as soap making hints. Good luck!! (I think it is still time to run was there a month ago when I printed off a bunch of stuff. )

-- Cindy in Ok (, March 06, 2001.

to everyone! I poured water through wood ashes using a tea strainer into a glass canning jar yesterday. A bit of it got on my hand and did not burn me, so I was a bit disappointed. (glad I wasnt burned tho) Today the jar is all clear water and the sediment (gray) from the strained ashes is at the bottom. Is this lye?? No caustic fumes arose while I did this process. Did I do something wrong?? Does anyone know of a local store ie: Rite Aid ,Shop Rite etc. where I could get lye? I have only seen it mailorder. Thanks for all your help. Michele at Melody Farm.

-- Michele Rae Padgett (, March 06, 2001.

depends on the ashes,, hard wood makes a stronger lye. a tea strainer?? When I have made lye from ashes, (extracted),, it took over 10 gallons of ashes and 1 gallon of water to make a strong enough lye. If you want to buy it,, but RED DEVEL DRAIN CLEANER,, its all lye,, and used to have soap directions on the back of it, bu doesnt anymore. Email me and I can send then direction to you,, its the same ones as in Carla Emerys Encloypedia.

-- Stan (, March 06, 2001.

Red Devil lye is sold at every grocery store around here, most harware stores and Wally Worlds carry it also, check at your local harware store first.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, March 06, 2001.

Oh, jees, HARDWARE store! Forgot to proofread again, sorry!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, March 06, 2001.

I too, was somewhat hesitant to try soapmaking. But...after putting if off for probably a year, with some coaxing from our good friend Nan, I finally made soap. I used olive oil. Usually expensive but I looked around and found a 3 liter can for $5. I used a clear storage container and popped out the soap when it setup. Then when it was about like fudge I cut it into bar type rectangles. I got 16 bars of soap. We figured the cost of the oil, and lye (Red Devil), and it cost 30cents a bar. It's still drying so we haven't tried it yet but are anxious to give it a go. I say, don't be afraid. Just be careful with the lye. If you want my recipe I will be glad to send it. It was easy, but not fast. Email me direct.

-- cindy palmer (, March 09, 2001.

Everyone should either read or watch the movie fight club,which contains a very interesting subplot about soap making.

-- Jesse Vaughan (, January 02, 2002.

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