Batch #41 soap, Patasium Hydroxide made from ash

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Nov 28, 2007
Reaction score
Batch #41
This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for some time. The lye in this soap I made today from ashes. This is my experiment and not for instruction. (Disclaimer)

Coconut oil 5 oz. Lard 5 oz Cottonseed oil 9 oz. Castor oil 1 oz.
Hardness 42 Cleansing 17 Condition 52 bubbly 22 creamy 29 Iodine 70
INS 144
Water 7.6 oz
Lye KOH 3.991 (5% SF)
(I used 9 oz. of my Ash lye water)

Boiled ashes for 30 minutes, then strained and filtered and put lye water back
In pot with 3 more cups of ash.

Filter through coffee filter

Lye concentration egg test THE EGG FLOATS!

Oils and lye, notice the clarity of the oils:

Oils with lye added, immediate change like a normal mixture

Lite trace

In mold, used plastic because the mixture is more liquid than normal
Because of the extra water

Lastly look at this beautiful Wood Duck; He came by to get some corn while I was making the lye.
Super tut Neil. :D Show us cut pics please! I would also like to know how the bars cure out over time. You are an adventurous guy, great. :wink:

That's some nice looking soap considering the color of the lye. Hope you'll post some pics of it out of the mold. :lol:
Great job, Neil. Couple questions: were the ashes from hard or soft wood? Did you use a raw egg for the test?

Gorgeous shot of the wood duck. We don't have them here, but I sure wish we did.
Thanks for the links I always appreciate all the help I can get and try to read as much as possible when experimenting. One of the reasons I haven’t tried this before is the time involved waiting for the process of drip water through ash. The links you posted are a lot like most I’ve seen on the net. The first link you posted calls ash lye Caustic, the second calls it Caustic soda so I’m suspect right off and the third seems to be more informed but I doubt however after reading these that any of the authors ever made any lye or soap.
The commonality between Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and Potassium hydroxide (KOH) is the hydroxide or Hydrogen Ions or I should say lack of. These two strong alkali chemicals share this with Ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2), and Calcium hydroxide(Ca(OH)2 but I wouldn’t want to try these for soap or Bio. NaOH is preferred because of its strength and it is a base salt.
I’m no chemist but I worked in the treatment of water for eight years using NaOH and allot of other chemicals as well as cation and anion exchange, Deionization, Reverse Osmosis and distillation, Making potable water from ground water contaminated with everything you can imagine, gas well exploration chemicals to organic compounds and allot of methane components THC, PCb’s, Sodium complexes and organic Ferris Hydroxide.

The link that I found that seems to be best, and is similar to the way I made it, is from a guy in AU that makes paper so he needs to use Lye.

I like this one because the sum of the very limited effort is revealed within just a few minutes rather than days. If a person wants to be more historically correct then by all means the long term ash hopper drip method would be the one to go with. My method is more for a logical outcome rather than reenactment or historical accuracy.
Thanks for the link to that site, Neal. :wink: I have 8 gallons of sodium hydroxide beads sitting in my garage off the concrete on wood in 2 5 gallon HDPE buckets with rubber seal locking lids. I would like trying to make soap using home made potassium hydroxide though. How did the batch cut?

Hey, your beveler is on its way, too! :wink:

Yea Paul you can’t be too careful with Caustic soda if it isn’t sealed well it will pull water from the air. I used to buy Caustic soda flakes in 25 lb metal containers. Once an empty container in the back of the shop that had been there only a few months, had a bad seal, it drew water from the air and ate through the lid. My cat jumped up on the lid and fell through; she lost all her hair and eventually died of cancer. I've never forgotten how strong that stuff can be. So I always keep mine in plastic like you do, sealed very well and away from children and pets.

BTW thanks for the heads up on the beveler, I had forgotten all about it. Now I have reason to make some soap... to try out the new beveler!

The wood ashes were mixed from my wood stove, Elm, Oak, water maple, box elder all those are mixed up in the wood pile. The egg is a natural uncooked egg, In water it sinks. Its kind of a poor mans Hydrometer like the zap test being a poor mans PH meter. If I continue in these experiments I will have to have some equipment like a hydrometer and a PH meter, then compare the readings to the poor mans method. The wood duck is the closest photo i've gotten of one since I've been here, they are very wild and leary of people, I'm glad they are. They are so beautiful this time of year. Yesterday a pair of hooded Mergansers came by they are even more beautiful and even wilder so its really hard to get a photo of one.

this is not my photo, here is a hooded Merganser:
Hows the soap look??? did you cut it yet!?! im very interested to find out what the finished product looks like!
Sorry Guys about the delay... Ive been sick these last few days but feeling much better tonight. I give God praise when I'm well or when I'm sick.
On to soap:

The experiment was disappointing in a way even though it was a success.
I got to impatient waiting so I had to help it along with some chemical assistance, salt vinegar and lye. So I made a second batch and in the second batch I concentrated the lye mixture, thats why its so much darker and this time I’m letting it do its own thing even if it takes a month. After a few days it is starting to set up and in a few more I should be able to unmold it. In the photo below you can see the cut bars from the first batch and the second batch in the mold. After these experiments I believe it’s a different process than we are used to, we are spoiled by the speed and ease of how we make it. The archaic method of making ash lye is a drawn out process and it will take allot of ash to make a little lye and allot of ash lye to make a little soap. I think the method would be that the lye liquid would have to be more than twice the weight of the oils even as strong as you can get it otherwise you wont get enough lye so this poses an addition problem of getting rid of the water, boiling or dehydrating.


BTW paul got the beveler , cant wait to try it and the soap you sent is really great and the fragrance I really like, Thanks a bunch.
I hope and pray you will be feeling much better soon, my friend. :) Experimentation is how we learn and you have kept us informed and I applaud you for your testing. Hey, you got soap and that is the main idea. Hope you like the beveler! :wink:

hey man that soap looks awesome!! I bet the second batch will work out even better!! I think that if you have a wood stove outside and cook often, then acquiring enough ash probably wont be the hard part, the patience would be!! lol....we all need a lesson in that from time to time (at least i know I do!!)...

I would just shovel whatever ashes into the old fashioned style ash-water seeping thing and then let it sit, every few days, more ash, more water...same thing...maybe run the same ash/lyewater mixture back over the ashes to concentrate it?? ...then im suuuure youd get enough (or you could probably leave it out in the rain uncovered...wouldnt even need to use your own water!...thatd be a cool experiment too!)

I think you did a great job!
This was very interesting Neil...thank you very much for sharing... my first handmade soap was from a woman who got her lye from ashes.
Sharon, thats cool I wish I could acually watch someone make it the old timey way. this was a fun experiment. Next time I'll have test equipment and it will be a little more controlled.

Latest posts