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Grandma's Lye Soap
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I got to wondering how people made soap without the store bought cans of lye. I found that the ashes were used to work up and produce the chemical of Sodium Hydroxide over a much extented process. I still remember my mother making lye soap during WW 11 in town in the back yard after we had killed a hog. We used lye soap in the Army in '58 when I was on KP duty.

Something to think about if we ever need to make soap.
 
Posts: 941 | Location: Texas | Registered: 19 May 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Les, that reminds me of an early show of "The Beverly Hillbillies" when granny was going to give Elly-Mae a bath in the wash tub + Miss Jane was appalled that granny was going to wash that tender young girl in lye soap. Granny gives her the eye + says, "Don't you try to tell me about cleanliness, city woman!" Smiler


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Posts: 14885 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 11 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Along the same lines, I just finished Buddy Ebson's autobiography "The Other Side Of Oz". A great read. I recall one line in which an interviewer asks him , "How old is Granny?" He never drops a stitch but just says, "Hell, I don't know; I never wanted to ask her."


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Posts: 14885 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 11 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I prefer bar soaps for handwashing. Everything at my sinks is handmade soap. I have friends that make it. I trade for goods and soap is one thing I will trade for. Saves me time for other things.

There are wild plants that have natural saponins. So in a pinch, if you have any of them handy, you can use them to clean up.


~Ann



 
Posts: 16330 | Location: The LOST Nation | Registered: 27 March 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oh geez, I've actually made lye from wood ashes before and more than once! Basically you use the white ashes from a wood fire and mix it in a container with water, you don't want it runny but a slurry similar to cement if you've ever mixed that up before. Then you let it sit for a week and drain & filter it. We used a 30 gallon plastic barrel on it's side with a big hole cut in the top and a spigot on the bottom and a pleated paper water filter on the inside of the spigot. After a week drain the solution off into a plastic bucket and see if a fresh egg will float in it leaving a quarter sized area of the egg floating above the water. If it isn't dense enough for that then pour it back into the barrel for another couple of days.

You can also use lye or just plain wood ashes to soak/cook corn in to make hominy. if using lye, add enough to the water to make it feel "slick" as my Dad would say. If using plain wood ashes, add enough to get that slurry I mentioned earlier and put it on a slow simmer. When cooked enough the hulls of the corn start slipping off pour it into a larger pot with water and wash everything well, the cold water will help the stubborn hulls slip off. Rinse it a couple times in clean water and there's your hominy. Using wood ashes always kinda grossed me out but you get over it after the corn gets rinsed and it goes back to looking normal. Nowadays you can use baking soda instead of lye- 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 quarts water, 1 quart dried corn.


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Posts: 7629 | Location: Between 2 rivers, Middle USA | Registered: 19 August 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You can also make lye from cooked down oyster shells. Handy if you live by the coast.


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Posts: 14885 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 11 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mark, I did not know you could make hominy with baking soda. Part of the ancient and complicated process of "nixtamalization."

https://www.epicurious.com/ing...-is-nixtamal-article


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Posts: 14084 | Location: Alamogordo, NM | Registered: 03 June 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It was surprising to me when I first learned it too, but I suppose any non-toxic alkaline would probably work. It's interesting that to my taste when you use baking soda it gives a faint salty taste that you do not get when using lye.


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Posts: 7629 | Location: Between 2 rivers, Middle USA | Registered: 19 August 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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San Benito Soapworks makes soap from wood ash and some of the best soap I’ve ever had. It was originally made by the “Soap Lady” who was an amazing lady who liked to do Civil War reenactment’s but recently passed on and her husband and kids still make the soap. You can get the soap products still through sugar farms marketplace in Carmel By The Sea. Amazing soap and masculine scents with civil war themed soap CSA that is whiskey scented being the most popular. Smells amazing. Right now I am using the tobacco sage version. Highly recommended.


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Posts: 27108 | Location: Where tech companies are trying to control you and brainwash you. | Registered: 29 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My mother made homemade soap for years and years. It was strange when we used store bought soap.
 
Posts: 16400 | Registered: 04 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We made it too. My job was to keep the fire going right in the wash pot. Mom was always proud of her soap cause it was clean, pretty, no yellow lumps.


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Posts: 394 | Registered: 28 August 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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