Survival Tips: Making Lye Soap

If you’ve been down the soap aisle at your local grocery store lately, you know that the varieties are overwhelming.  The scents, styles, and consistencies of the soap are as plentiful as the stars in the sky.  Of course, in a survival situation such as might be encountered at the end of society as we know it, you’re not likely to be able to walk to the store and buy soap.

Soap is vastly more important than you think, especially when modern medicine will not be around to fix us up if we get ill as a result of poor hygiene.  A great many illnesses can be gotten from failure to properly wash yourself.  If you can’t buy soap, you’ve got to figure out how to make it.

Step 1: Make lye.  Lye is a an extremely caustic solution, so handle it with care.  However, when combined with the right ingredients, it makes a great soap.  In order to get lye, you need some hardwood ashes.  Oak will work fine.

You also need a system to leach the lye from the ashes.  I would use a wood or plastic barrel with holes in the bottom, a layer of gravel over the holes, and a layer of straw over the gravel.  Dump the hardwood ashes into the bucket and pour boiling rain water (soft water works best) over it.  The lye solution will flow from the holes in the bottom of the bucket, so obviously you need to place the bucket over another container to catch the lye.

You can test the strength of the lye solution by dipping a chicken feather into it.  If the feather starts to desolve, the solution is strong enough.  If it’s not strong enough yet, boil the lye water and pour it back into the ash bucket.  Let it cycle through again and again until it is strong enough.  It can take hours or days for the lye to leach from the ashes.  Just be patient.  Once it’s done, you can let it sit in the sunlight until the water evaporates.  Then you will have home made lye.

2.  Get some fat.  Animals have fat.  Pig fat or cow fat or deer fat or any type of fat will work. Heat it up until it becomes a liquid.

3. Combine the stuff.  As a general rule, you’ll combine 18 ounces of homemade lye with 2.5 pints of water.  Then, you’ll stir that in to 6 lbs of melted animal fats.  And stir.  And stir.  Aaaaaannnnddd stir.

4. When it’s thick like melted chocolate, pour it into a mold.  Let it sit in the mold for 24 hours, or until the mixture is solid enough to handle.  Take it out, cut it into bars, and set it somewhere to continue the curing process.  Under-cured lye soap will ruin your life (think chemical burns on your junk), so let it cure for several weeks.  You can’t go wrong by leaving it to cure a long, long time.

5. Wash your nasty behind.  

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About Juan Verde

Juan Verde is former military, although the nature and thrust of his missions are highly classified. Suffice it to say if the world ends tomorrow, Verde will be the one low crawling through your front yard to steal your pork and beans from the garage shelf where you keep canned goods. Selah.

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