How to make ash soap

How to make ash soap

For centuries, people have been making soap from chimney 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. Prepare the lye.

The active ingredient of the soap is lye. Lye is an alkaline substance that appears very slippery when dissolved in water. The lye dissolves the grease and lifts the dirt.

It is a good idea to wear gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection at this stage as the lye is corrosive and causes chemical burns.

To make lye, boil hardwood ash in rainwater for about half an hour. DO NOT use aluminum pans: the lye will chew them. Use glass or enameled pots instead. When the ash from the fireplace settles to the bottom of the pot, collect the liquid lye. Once you have collected enough liquid lye, pour it into the pan and cook it until the egg floats in it.

2. Collect and make fats.

Collect the leftover meat fat, lard and vegetable oils. These fats will form a soap structure, keeping it solid. Slowly heat the fat and oils in a pan until they become liquid. Scolare i pezzi solidi e i detriti versando il grasso caldo cheese cloth . Be careful not to burn yourself.

3. Mix everything together.

Once the fat has been filtered, keep it on low heat until the lye boils. When the lye starts to boil, slowly add the hot fat while stirring wooden spoon . Time to add herbs or essential oils to give the soap fragrances. Add a little salt when the mixture thickens.

Cook and mix until it becomes a thick consistency of cornmeal.

4. Pour in the soap.

Pour in a hot mixture of lye and fatsoap molds lined with parchment. You can use various shapes to make soap – be creative.

How to make ash soap

Soap moldsmaking soap from the ashes of the fireplace

After pouring the mixture, let it cool and harden to form a soap.

Now you have homemade fireplace ash soap!

Last updated by Tom on September 27, 2016.

How to make ash soap

September 28, 2020

You can stock up on cleaning products, but if you survive the long term, you’ll end up running out of soap. And one of the key ingredients in soap making is lye. Knowing how to do this and what you need to have on hand should be part of your preparation.

Lye is an alkaline solution used in soap making, as a detergent and sometimes as a food treatment solution. This is potassium hydroxide, sometimes called caustic soda, and has a pH of around 13. This alkalinity level can burn the skin and corrode some materials, so be careful when making lye.

Materials for making lye

Only two ingredients are needed to make homemade lye:

  • White ash – from hardwood
  • Water – preferably rainwater

The best ash comes from deciduous trees or algae. Soft woods like pine or fir are best if you want to use lye to make a liquid or soft soap.

To prepare the ash, simply burn the wood completely and collect the leftovers. You can also collect ash from other sources, such as paper, but expect chemical contamination which may be undesirable if lye is to be used in soap.

Safety information

You can customize this method using available materials, but keep three important points in mind:

  1. Use glass, plastic, or wood to work and collect the lye. The lye reacts with the metal.
  2. This process emits noxious fumes, especially if the lye is heated to make it more concentrated. Prepare the lye outside or in a well-ventilated shed. This is not a project you want to do in your home.
  3. Lye is a strong caustic base. Wear protective gloves and goggles, avoid inhaling vapors and skin contact. If you splash the lye on your hands or clothes, immediately rinse the affected area with water.

How to make ash soap

The lye process

All you have to do to make the lye is to soak the ash in the water. This suspends the residue in a potassium hydroxide solution. Drain the water from the lye and then, if necessary, thicken the solution by heating it to remove excess water. In summary:

  • Mix the ash and water
  • Give yourself time to react
  • Filter the mixture
  • Collect the lye

One method that has been used for hundreds of years, if not more, is to work the lye in a wooden barrel with a cork in the bottom. These are available in beer stores. It’s also fine to use a cast iron or stainless steel pot.

To use this method:

  • Put the stones on the bottom of the barrel.
  • Cover the stones with a layer of straw or grass. This is used to filter the solids from the ash.
  • Add ash and water to the barrel. You need enough water to completely saturate the ash, but not enough to make the mixture watery. Aim for slurry. Let the mixture react for three to seven days.
  • Check the concentration of the solution by lifting the egg into the barrel. If an area of ​​the egg the size of a coin rises above the surface, the liquor is quite concentrated. If it is too diluted, you may need to add more ash.
  • Collect the lye water by removing the cap from the bottom of the barrel.
  • If you need to concentrate the lye, you can evaporate the water in the bucket or heat the solution. Another option is to run the lye through the ash again.

Modern adaptations of the old technique use plastic or glass buckets with nozzles instead of wooden barrels. Some people dump rainwater from the gutter into a bucket of lye. Rainwater is usually soft to slightly acidic, which helps with the washing process.

How to make ash soap

Finished product test

Before you can use lye to make soap, you need to make sure it has the correct pH. To do this, you need pH test strips or a pH meter. If you don’t have any, you can use a potato – if it floats, the lye is ready; if he’s drowning, then no.

The pH of each bucket of lye should be 13 or higher. If it is less than 13, carefully pour the bucket of lye water into the wooden barrel and collect it again. Repeat this process until your lye buckets have a pH of 13. You will most likely need at least one more pass through the keg to reach the correct pH level.

Be careful not to splash when you pour the liquid into the barrel as the water may burn your skin.

Once you have the pH of the lye 13, you can use it however you like. Lye water can be used to make soap, to clean drains, or to harden olives.

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How to make ash soap

How to make ash soap

Despite it’s popularity to have been invented by Nigerians who took the soap to the Ghana. My grandmother explained that Nigerian pepper traders simply brought with them the version that was not local to Ghana. This version was a lighter colored soap than the one made in Ghana with red palm oil, known for staining clothes.

Soap makers in Ghana were already making the dark pitch black version called ‘amonkye’ or ‘amonkyem’ which is made with darker oils like sustainable palm oil these days and palm kernel oil in the Ashante region. It’s funny that all of my Nigerian students, when they come to Ghana for black soap lessons, always want to learn only the brown version of Ghana soap because they say the soap made in Nigeria is too dark. Some how, it would seem that the darker version of black soap is now made in Nigeria and the lighter version which till this day is still called ‘alata samina’ meaning Nigerian soap is made in Ghana.

MYTHS: An African black soap is unlikely to contain that much shea butter because the price of shea butter is really high. % shea butter in the soap recipe. Most brands actually add shea butter only after making the soap more moisturizing. After purchase, they would also add other things like cocoa butter and perfume.

How to make ash soap

Debunking some myths
There is no raw African black soap. The soap was boiled, so it can’t be raw.
There is no organic African black soap. The soap was made up of different ingredients from different places; chances are it can’t even be traced and the soap will last for hours of cooking. The different components which are potash, water and oils cannot be separated. Excerpt from the online training course How to Make African Black Soap.

Personal hygiene is an important part of daily life. Soap is most often used for bathing. Its great variety allows you to choose the most suitable. Ash soap is an equally effective personal care product. You can cook it yourself. How to make ash soap is described in the article.

What is required?

DIY ash soap is simple. You just need to prepare yourself for what is needed:

  1. Ash. It is obtained after burning wood. If it is resinous, such as spruce or pine, ash, premixed with grease, is needed to neutralize the resin. Substituting this ingredient will allow caustic soda, which is called soapstone.
  2. Waterfall. This can be normal, but it’s best to choose a soft one. Rigid reacts with alkalis and partially neutralizes them.
  3. Fat. It can be fatty waste, lard, subcutaneous fat and various animal waste.
  4. Salt. You should choose a cookbook.

Based on these ingredients, soap is made from ash. It is used for bathing and washing every day. It performs its hygienic functions perfectly.

Cooking rules

The ash soap recipe is very simple. To do this, in two containers: one large and a little smaller, pour a little water. Do not use aluminum pans. Ash should be added to the water and boiled for 30 minutes. During this time sediment will appear – it is not used. And the resulting liquid will be a light drink.

The same amount of fat is added to the liqueur, after which the mixture must be boiled. Gradually add more lye. There should be a substance that could harden during the test: liquid soap and soap glue.

Further actions

You should take this soap glue, free of residue and fat deposits, and add sodium chloride to it. As a result of the reaction, a thick soap core appears – sodium soap. Mix the solution by adding salt. The core will grow until all the soap glue turns into it.

Then the finished ash soap must be removed from the container and transferred to another boiler. The most concentrated, pre-boiled alcohol and table salt are added to it. Ash soap thickens – now it can be used for hygiene. But you can do this after removing the excess alcohol which is bad for the skin. Using this technology, for example, the soap is made from birch ash.

Final stage

Finally, the resulting modeling substance is placed in a wooden box on a canvas or other material. The ash soap should freeze, the lye should drain. The product is cut into pieces and used at one’s discretion. Shop soap needs to be lubricated.

It is desirable to carry out all stages of the procedure, except the first, on the street, otherwise there will be an unpleasant smell in the room.

Ready-made soap perfectly cleanses the skin. It is much better than regular soap which is usually used for personal hygiene. After the saponification reaction is complete, no free base remains. On the contrary, a good handmade product always contains free oils and fats.

Nuances of use

The lye is used:

  1. For hair washing and personal hygiene. In this case, it is better to take the lye produced by a simpler method. To do this, water is passed through 1 portion of ash. This liqueur has a mild concentration and does not dry out the skin.
  2. For washing dishes. The above recipe is sufficient, but with a stronger concentration. For this, 1 part of the water is passed through several portions of ash. It will be a strong and thick lye.
  3. For washing and cleaning. An effective cold brewed drink.

For washing and cleaning, concentrated liquor is used, thanks to which it is able to dry the skin. In the process of its use, it is recommended to use gloves or other means to protect your hands.

The concentration of the liqueur depends on the type of plant used. For example, potassium carbonate is found in sunflower – 30-35%, in birch ash – 12%, and in buckwheat straw – 35%.

The resulting soap saturates the cells of the epidermis with microelements, vitamins and other valuable ingredients. Perfectly cleanses, softens and nourishes the skin. Thanks to this soap, the color and condition of the epidermis improve. It also retains moisture well and maintains the elasticity of the skin.

The use of such soap protects the epidermis from hard water. It gives the skin a soft, velvety, light scent. In addition, the tool eliminates rashes, irritations. Can be used for soap massage – for deep cleansing.


When making soap, some easily eliminated difficulties may arise:

  1. Often a layer of fat appears on the mixture. Make sure the solution is at the right temperature to dilute the fat. If so, the mixture is heated again by adding 5% more water / base and stirred for 10 minutes. If the mixture is cold, it will heat up a little.
  2. There may be times when the mixture is not rough for 3 hours. Heat a little more, turn off the heat, add the melted fat (10%) and mix for 10 minutes.
  3. Often the mixture does not harden. It is important to use hardwood ash, not softwood.
  4. Sometimes the resulting soap has a thin layer of white powder on top. Dry before use.
  5. The resulting soap may not work effectively the first time. It must be immersed in water and air dried.

Note that for this recipe you need hardwood ash, not soft. Then the cooking procedure will be satisfied, as well as the result. The resulting soap will be one of the best face care products.

Thanks to this, ash-based soaps can be easily prepared on their own. The resulting product is effective in normal hygiene procedures.

How to make ash soap

Few events in the history of soap making have had such a profound effect on industry and crafts as the production of laboratory lye. But the lye wasn’t made in large-scale laboratories until the mid-nineteenth century and was only available to household soap makers for several decades. Although it has been harder to find in recent years, it is still widely available to soap makers.

Thousands of years ago, before soap was available, people made lye the old fashioned way, by leaching water through wood ash stacked in a barrel or other container.

If you’re in a remote corner of the globe and can’t get lye locally, or just curious how it’s done, you can make hardwood potash yourself. However, you will need some consumables and will need to go through a few steps with your safety gear.

Basics of lye production

Lye is an alkaline solution used in soap making, as a detergent and sometimes as a food treatment solution. This is potassium hydroxide, sometimes called caustic soda, and has a pH of around 13. This alkalinity level can burn the skin and corrode some materials, so be careful when making lye.

One way to produce the lye is to use rainwater and wood ash that will need to be collected. This method requires a wooden barrel, metal ash containers, a rain barrel to collect the water, and safe containers to collect the leachate. You will need a drill to make holes in the barrel, you will also need small pebbles and straw. PH test tools such as strips or a meter are useful for testing liquor.


It is important to wear goggles, rubber gloves and boots to handle the lye water safely.

Collect the ash

To make this type of lye, you need white hardwood firewood ash. Collect ash from fires that have burned wood such as ash, walnut or beech. Soft woods such as pine, spruce or fir do not contain enough potassium needed to produce lye. Since potassium does not burn in fire, it can be rinsed from the ash with water.

After the fire has gone out, allow the ashes to cool for a few days before harvesting. You will need enough ash to almost fill a wooden barrel. Store white ash in metal containers.

Collect rainwater

To make potassium lye, you need fresh water that is low in minerals, which makes rainwater a good source, especially since it is available in large quantities and is free. (Hard water will not produce a foaming soap.

Place the rain barrel under the eaves of your home to collect as much water as possible. You will need a filter over the barrel to keep debris and leaves out. Collect about 10 pints / 4.7 liters to make the lye.

Prepare a wooden barrel

After filling the barrel with ash and rainwater, the liquid must drain from the bottom of the barrel. Therefore, you need to drill a few holes near the center of the bottom of the wooden barrel with a small drill – about 6 holes are enough. You will put a bucket under the barrel, so be sure to drill holes where it will be above the bucket.

After drilling the holes, place a layer of small clean pebbles 1-2 inches thick on the bottom of the barrel; just make sure the stones are bigger than the holes. Then add about 3 inches of straw on top of the pebbles. This acts as a filter, allowing the water, not the ash, to drain.

How to make ash soapHygiene is an essential aspect of daily life that will become critical in a crisis when shared resources are scarce. No matter how you look at it, you will need to find a way to keep it clean and maintain good hygiene. When commercial detergents are no longer available, you will need to make your own and your best chance of success will be making soap with grease and ash.

I’ve learned how to make soap with fat and ashes from a good friend that has been living off-grid for more than 20 years. Even more, following his wife’s “suggestions” he perfected his soap making methods by producing and adding natural aromatic oils to his recipe.

To make soap with grease and ash, you need to achieve a chemical reaction called saponification by mixing the right amounts of lye, water and grease.

To make soap with grease and ash, you will need:

  • 6 pounds of hardened fat remaining after cooking (fat can be collected after cooking and refrigerated for later use)
  • Waterfall
  • Raw egg
  • Ash wood
  • 36 ounces of clean water (some prefer to use distilled water, but rainwater will be fine)
  • Natural aromatic oils for a pleasant fragrance (if available)

As for tools, make sure you have the following ready: a muffin tray or silicone soap mold, waxed paper, glass bowl, large stainless steel pot, knife, wooden spoon, rubber gloves, safety goggles, measuring cup, cooking thermometer, 3 clean empty coffee cans – one smaller than the others and a drill with ¼ inch bit.

Step by step to make soap with grease and ash:

  1. Start by collecting the saved fat in a large stainless steel pot and adding the same amount of water.
  2. Place the stainless steel pot over medium heat and heat it until the water boils and the fat melts.
  3. When the fat has melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave it overnight. The fat should cool and solidify as a layer on top of the water.
  4. Use a knife and cut the fat into pieces. Be sure to scrape off any cooking debris from the bottom of each piece if you notice them.
  5. Now take the drill bit and be sure to drill a few holes in the bottom of the smaller coffee can.
  6. Fill the can two-thirds full with wood ash and hang it on the larger can.
  7. Prepare goggles and rubber gloves and fill the top can with hot water while wearing protective clothing. Let the liquid soak through the ash and drain into the lower jar. You are now making a solution of lye, a corrosive chemical known to cause severe burns. I can’t stress this enough, if you get it on your skin, make sure you flush the area with white vinegar and wash thoroughly with water and soap. Make sure you don’t get any in your eyes as you will need to seek immediate medical attention after flushing the eyes with cold water.
  1. After all the water has been drained from the top, you can pour the lye solution from the lower jar into the upper jar and repeat the operation, but this time drain into the third jar.
  2. Now you need to test the concentration of the lye solution and the following trick will help you. Put the raw egg in the lye solution and if it sinks, the concentration of the lye solution is too low. You will need to pour the solution through the ash again until the concentration increases, allowing the egg to float in the lye solution.
  3. Melt the fat in a large stainless steel pot and use a cooking thermometer to measure the temperature. Let it cool to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Now pour 36 ounces of clean water (distilled or rainwater) into the glass bowl.
  5. Wear your goggles and rubber gloves and gradually add 13 ounces of lye to the water in the glass bowl while gently stirring with the wooden spoon. Never do the opposite because adding water to the lye can cause the mixture to boil violently or explode and you will have corrosive lye everywhere.
  6. You will find that the water and lye produce a lot of heat and you will need to use a cooking thermometer and let it cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Stir the fat in one direction and slowly pour in the lye while continuing to stir.
  8. Keep stirring and add a few drops of essential oil (if available), 5 to 10 drops should be enough, depending on the concentration of the essential oil. The mixture should have the consistency of honey after mixing for 20-30 minutes.
  9. As a last step to make soap with grease and ash, you need to pour the liquid soap into the compartments of the muffin pan or silicone soap mold.
  10. Leave the pan open for at least 24 hours.
  11. Once you have treated the soap (it is solidified), remove the cubes from the muffin pan or silicone soap mold and wrap them in wax paper.
  12. Keep the wrapped soap in a cool place for at least three weeks for it to harden.
  13. After three to four weeks, you can start using soap.

As you can see, no science degree is required to make soap with grease and ash and all you need to do is pay attention and follow the steps above. Big problems can arise when handling a lye solution as it can burn clothes and skin, but as long as you use protective clothing it should be fine.

Now if you don’t feel comfortable to make soap with fat and ashes, there are always other solutions available and you can start by foraging for soap plants if they are available in your area. I wrote in a previous article about the soap plants that one can use to replace commercial soap, so make sure you read it if you think you won’t be able to make soap with fat and ashes when the need arises.

Self-sufficiency and readiness solutions recommended by our readers:

LOST WAYS 2(Discover lost ways of life that allow you to survive in any environment)

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Have you ever made a nice hydromassage soap to come back the next day and the surface is covered with an ash-colored substance?

How to make ash soap

This is ash. sodium carbonate (commonly referred to as ash) is an unbearable little problem that almost every soap manufacturer has faced at one time or another. What is this? La ash è carbonato di sodio. Sodium carbonate forms where the unreacted lye meets the air when the soap is poured, until it is saponified 24-48 hours later. We know it’s soda ash if it’s water soluble (you can rinse it off) and it covers the surface of the soap when exposed to air. If you have white spots or streaks in your soap, especially below the surface, you may have lye, stearic acid, or something else.

If you cut your soap to soon and it hasn’t fully saponfied, you can get ash that covers the entire bar of soap, as the last tiny bit of un-reacted lye reacts to the air!

How to make ash soap

The good news about ash is two-fold. La ash è una questione estetica; it does not affect the effectiveness of your soap and ash is preventable.

If you do get ash, no biggy, your soap might not look as pretty and colorful below the blanket of white, but it will still clean you. To remove the ash, you can steam it, rinse it under warm water or even plane it off.

To prevent ash, spray your soap with alcohol. Find the highest alcohol content you can find. Here we can get 91% isopropyl alcohol. Put it in a bottle of fine mist.

How to make ash soap

I spray the soap twice, once immediately after pouring it, and then again about 30 minutes later. That usually does the trick and prevents ash from forming.

Last updated on January 8, 2019 by Andrea

How to make ash soap

In the old days, lye soap was the best all-round cleaner for housewives.

From clothes and stains to dirty dishes and floors, to poison ivy and insect bites, lye soap was the answer to the family’s daily cleaning needs.

Usually made with leftover cooking fats and lye made from wood ashes, townspeople would gather on soap-making days, preparing large batches together.

As modern keeper’s of the home, we have the privilege of following in the vintage ways of those before us! By using fats and oils such as lard, tallow, or sustainably-sourced, organic palm, lye soap can again find it’s place as a household staple.

Advantages of using lye soap

The secret to old fashioned lye soap’s cleansing power is in it’sВ high lye content and lack of exotic oils.

We see this advantage primarily in the area of ​​laundry and general house cleaning regulations.

I get a lot of emails asking for help with problems, especially when it comes to household laundry detergents. Problems like:

  • the laundry detergent does not freeze
  • it does not clean both clothing and commercial products
  • stains are difficult to remove

Most household laundry detergent recipes available use Castilian soap or some other “super greasy” soap. (Note:Super oily is a fancy soapy term which essentially means … soap made with less lye to be extremely moisturizing for the skin and / or hair.)

While these all-natural nourishing and moisturizing soaps are great for the bathroom, they can leave a greasy residue on laundry, B dishes, and various household surfaces – not the squeaky cleaning we’re used to with commercial detergents.

The solution is strong lye soap.

And trust me when I say that making homemade lye soap doesn’t have to be complicated.

A recipe for lye soap

Making homemade soap with traditional ingredients is much easier than you might expect!

Soap ingredients

  • 2 pounds of fat (Choice of: tallow, lard or eco-friendly palm oil from sustainable sources)
  • filtered and clean water
  • lye, 0-1% excess fat (Note: Depending on the fats used the amount of lye will differ. Run your recipe with the lye calculator to find out how much water and lye you need.

*** For the basic soap, I use local handmade Arizona tallow and my recipe looks like this:

  • 2 pounds of tallow
  • 10 ounces filtered and clean water
  • 4.4 ounces of lye

Hot soap method

* Remember: there are 2 different methods of making soap: hot process and cold process, that isHot process method.

  1. Measure the lye and water, each in separate bowls, using a kitchen scale. (Note: Always run your recipe through a lye calculator to be sure that you are using the proper amount of fats/oils, lye, and liquid.
  2. Thoroughly combine the lye and water by pouring the lye into the water (never put water in the lye) and stir the liquid until the lye has completely dissolved. The liquid is corrosive and should not be touched in any case. The outside of the bowl will also be very hot. Note: Be careful when handling the lye and follow all recommended precautions. (Note: What I’m trying to say is, I can not be held responsible for any craziness, mishaps, explosions, etc. that may happen when making this recipe.
  3. Leave the lye mixture under the vent and allow it to cool while you prepare the fats / oils.
  4. Weigh fats / oils by weight, then place them in a saucepan to melt over low heat.
  5. Once dissolved, add a mixture of lye and liquid oil to a saucepan and mix. (Note: Any equipment the lye touches needs to be neutralized in a mixture of white vinegar, soap, and water.
  6. After a bit of a mess, grab your blender and get to work! Mix the oils and liquid in the pan for at least 3-5 minutes. We are working on monitoring. “
  7. Blend until thick, pudding-like.
  8. Once the mixture is pudding-like, cover the crock pot and “cook "the soap for approximately 1 hour.
  9. Prepare your form. I only use a regular parchment-lined loaf and it always works perfectly.
  10. Pour the soap mixture into the molds.
  11. Let the soap cool and harden for 24 hours.
  12. Remove from the cutting board and cut into bars.
  13. Place the bars in a tray with good airflow to allow them to harden further. But go ahead and feel free to use your first bar!
  14. Destroyed, these bars are ready to use in any laundry detergent recipe or dish soap recipe.

How to make ash soap


-If you are just starting to make soap, I highly recommend that you read these very informative articles and find the one that works best for you:

-I would also recommend borrowing some of these books from the library if you really want to know more:

  • Handmade soap by Dolores Boone
  • Soapper’s partner Susan Miller Cavitch
  • A book on natural soap by Susan Miller Cavitch

-This lye soap does NOT contain an excess of lye which may still hurt your skin … but may be too dry for daily use.

-It is perfect for very oily skin and is great for treating poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and / or insect bites.

-Tallow, lard, and palm all create low-suds soap, making these bars perfect for use with HE washing machines.

-To use as a stain remover stick, simply moisten the edge of the rod and rub vigorously directly onto the stained clothing.

Where can I find these things?

Are you looking for the raw materials listed in this post? The Soap Dish has some of the best prices on soap-making ingredients you can find — not to mention it’s a small family owned business.

I also highly recommend Mountain Rose HerbsВ for high-quality, organic herbs, В oils, and essential oils!

Have you ever made your own soap? do you want to try?

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