For centuries humans have been making soap from fireplace ash. If you’re looking for a way to use your fireplace ash and are interested in exploring some homesteading skills, read on and learn how to make soap for your own use.
1. Make lye.
The active ingredient in soap is lye. Lye is an alkaline substance with a very slippery feeling when dissolved in water. The lye dissolves grease and lifts dirt.
For this step it’s wise to wear gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection as lye is caustic and will cause chemical burns.
To make your lye, boil hardwood ashes in rain water for about half an hour. Do NOT use aluminum pans- the lye will eat through them. Use glass or enameled pots instead. Once the fireplace ashes have settled to the bottom of the pot, skim off the liquid lye. Once you have collected enough liquid lye, pour it into a pot and boil until an egg will float in it.
2. Collect and render fats.
Gather leftover meat fats, lard, and vegetable oils. These fats will form the structure of your soap, keeping it solid. Slowly heat the fat and oils in a pan until it becomes liquid. Strain out solid bits and impurities by pouring the hot fat through cheese cloth. Be very careful not to burn yourself.
3. Mix it all together.
Once the fat is filtered, keep it on low heat while you bring your lye to a boil. When the lye is at a rolling boil, slowly add the hot fat while stirring with a wooden spoon. This is the time to add any herbs or essential oils to give your soap scents. Add some salt as the mixture thickens.
Keep boiling and stirring the mixture until it gets the consistency of thick cornmeal mush.
4. Pour your soap.
Pour the hot lye and fat mixture into soap molds lined with parchment paper. You can use all sorts of molds to make soap – be creative.
Once you’re poured the mixture, allow it to cool and harden to make soap.
You now have homemade soap made from fireplace ash!