When one talks of lye soap, one talks of grandmother’s soaps. Though lye is used as an ingredient in many soaps, today it would be considered a bit old fashioned to make purely lye-based soaps. However, lye can be made into soaps for the same reasons our colonial ancestors used it. With modern science, we can make excellent lye-lard soap recipes that would neither be too harsh on the skin nor compromise on its ancient cleaning properties.
Lye soap recipes: Before the mid 1800s, when Americans made soaps on their own, they made mostly lye soaps. Your great grandmothers did lye-lard bars from the convenience of her home and benefited from their cleaning and skin-soothing ingredients. Though there is no scientific proof for use of lye as a medicinal cure, it is believed that old-fashioned lye soaps, especially the ones used by our grandmothers, can cure psoriasis, alleviate skin irritations and treat poison ivy infections. The type of soap produced using lye and lard is usually heavy and cleanses well. Often, it is used for laundry purposes.
Before you venture into lye soap making, get to know the basics of how to make soaps. Then, prepare your lye solution. You can make lye using wood ash or buy Sodium Hydroxide from stores. Next, be cautious when using lye. Have rubber gloves and goggles on. Never splash or spill lye anywhere as it can have a detrimental effect even on your paint, floor, fabrics and of course, your skin. Avoid inhaling lye and never let children or pets come near it. Last but not the least, get your other ingredients and equipments ready – this would include lard, water, containers, blenders and soap molds.
1. Outdoor Lye soap: This soap recipe will come out well if practiced outdoors. Since it is an ancient recipe, you need to have the patience to see your soap form traces. Ingredients required:
- 32 pounds of lard
- 16 quarts of soft cold water
- 8 cans of lye
Follow the usual process of soap making and mix lye with water by pouring lye into water. When the lye crystals dissolve completely, pour the solution into the melting lard. Boil for 2 hours and then, add one more gallon of water to the soap mixture. Stir the mixture for sometime and then, remove from heat and pour into molds. Your lye soap will be ready overnight.
2. Boiled Lye-Lard soap: This is a simple soap compared to the above one and adopts to the usual method of soap making using fat and lye. Ingredients required are:
- 5 pounds of lard
- 1 can of lye
- 2 gallons of water
Since the lye is of low quantity, you can expect a soap that is soft on the skin. Like the normal method, boil the fat and add lye solution (lye mixed with water) and cook for 2 hours. Cooling the mixture after that would result in trace formation. Pour into molds and then use.
3. Combination Lye Soap: This recipe has lye, lard and coconut oil in it. The ingredients include:
- 20 lbs of lard
- 5 lbs of coconut oil
- 7.5 lbs of water
- 3.5 lbs of lye
Follow the usual soap making procedures and make the soap by pouring lye solution into the lard and coconut oil mixture. If you want to make the bars more hard, increase the water by 10% and lye by 20%.