How to Use Ashes to Make Soap from a Cary Fireplace Cleaning Company

October 8, 2019

The next time you find yourself shoveling wood ashes out of your fireplace, don’t throw them away! There are countless ways to reuse and repurpose fireplace ashes, and we’re not just talking about compost. Before household chemicals and detergents, ashes were a key component of soap, since wet ashes naturally produce lye. Using ashes to save money and live a more natural lifestyle.

“Pioneer Soap” Ingredients

In order to make old-fashioned “Pioneer soap,” here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup fine powdery wood ash
  • 5 cups rain water or “soft” water
  • Enough fat to render 1 cup of grease (about one pound)
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • A wooden box measuring approximately 2”x3”x6”
  • Waxed paper
  • Stainless steel pots and a long-handled dipping spoon

Once you’ve got your materials, just follow the recipe below.

Instructions for Making DIY Soap Out of Ashes

  1. Before anything else, make sure you are using a stainless steel pot. Do not use pots and pans made from aluminumm because the lye will eat right through them. In addition, make sure that you are wearing protective gloves and eyewear at all times.
  2. Line the wooden box with waxed paper; this will be your soap mold.
  3. In a stainless steel pot, boil 1 cup of powdery wood ash in 5 cups of rainwater. It is important to use rainwater, because tap water and purchased water can have chemicals added to them, which will disrupt the process.
  4. When the ashes settle at the bottom of the pan, skim the liquid lye off the top and transfer it to a new pot.
  5. Boil the liquid down to further concentrate the lye. Pioneer trick? You know it’s ready when an egg can float on top. (Do not eat the egg.)
  6. For the fat: Gather a pound of meat fat, leftover cooking lard, and vegetable oil into a pot, and heat it until it all becomes liquid grease. If needed, continue adding fat until you reach one cup. Tallow is especially useful for rendering. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can also use coconut oil.
  7. While the grease is still hot, add it to the boiling lye. Stir until it reaches the consistency of thick cornmeal mush. Turn off the heat.
  8. Stir in 2 tablespoons of salt to help the mixture harden as it cools.
  9. While the soap is still liquid, pour it into the wooden mold.
  10. After soap cools, turn it out of the mold. Voila! You have firm, clean soap perfect for your every need.

As you become more and more adept at this recipe, you may want to add essential oil or chopped herbs in step 6 to give the soap a terrific scent. Who knows, you may be able to start your own soap-making business with very little overhead, thanks to what gets leftover in your own fireplace!

Nexus Chimney Services is a chimney inspection, cleaning and repair company based in Apex NC and serving Holly Springs, Garner, Raleigh, Cary, and beyond. To schedule an estimate for a fireplace or chimney inspection, contact us today!