Fishing with lye: 7 steps to make lye soap catfish bait

If you thought that lye can be used only for sober applications like soap making, industrial processing and manufacture of petroleum products, vegetable oils etc, think again. Sodium Hydroxide or lye can even be engaged in a fun activity like fishing. For years, the old timers used only special lye soap as bait for catching catfish. Believe it or not, the catfish love the smell of lye soap and are instantly hooked by the bait. Though our ancestors used lye for daily survival and for fulfillment of their stomachs, we, the moderners can use the same for a sporty and abundant fishing activity. This article will explain the step-by-step processes involved in making catfish bait with lye.


Why homemade lye soap? Lye soap made at home make good catfish baits compared to the ones made industrially. This is because manufacturers mix a lot of additives for adding flavor, color and texture to the soap, making it a blend of lye instead of pure lye. The perfumes, chemicals and additives shoo away the catfish as they smell of human presence. On the other hand, a simple pure lye soap without human flavors (and possibly with a strong ‘stinky’ smell) attracts the fish at once.


1. Ingredients for lye soap: If you are familiar with the know-hows of soap making, you would by now know the ingredients. The common ingredients include – 12 oz of lye, 6 pounds of fat (can be beef tallow or lard) and 3 cups of water. Make sure that your lye is 100% pure. You can buy the one used in drain cleaners. If you go for industrially prepared lye, you may not get a 100% pure one as the manufacturers mix a few additives for soap making and cleaning purposes.

2. Get your protective gear right:
Handling lye is no easy joke as it is highly dangerous. It can cause serious and even fatal conditions when inhaled, ingested or brought in contact with the human body. So, get your protective gear right. This may include goggles, rubber gloves, lab apron, long sleeved clothing etc. Ensure that you wear all these when you make lye soap for catching your catfish.

3. Make lye solution:
Lye solution is made by mixing lye with water. Remember to get very cold rain water as lye can cause heat when mixed with water. Never ever pour water into lye as it can lead to serious damage and even combustion. So, pour lye slowly into water. Use plastic or wooden or glass containers for mixing as lye reacts strongly with metals. Keep stirring the solution as you pour lye using a wooden or plastic blender. When all the lye pellets are dissolved, you get a pure lye solution.

4. Melt fat and pour lye: While preparing the lye solution, simultaneously melt the fat (tallow or lard) in a glass heating pot. Once all the fat is melted, cool to around 90 to 95 F and then gradually add the lye solution to the melted fat.

5. Stir well to see trace formation:
Keep stirring the mixture till you get a consistency similar to that of a pudding. This process may take up to an hour depending on the temperature and purity of the materials you use.

6. Add additives: Catfish are fond of smelly substances. So you need to add a few smelly, favorite catfish additives to make your lye soap more suitable for cat-fishing. You can include popular additives like anise extract, garlic salt, garlic powder, gelatin mixes etc.

7. Pour to soap molds and cool: When the soap mixture is ready, look for trace formation. Once you see the soap tracing, pour it into molds and allow it to harden. This may take three to four days, but in the end, it will be worth the wait as you would be doing a lot of fishing with these lye soap bars.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 30th, 2013 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Lye Soaps - Tips, Recipes, Uses of Lye. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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