levofloxacin uk alphagan generic us online pharmacy no prescription torsemide order metoclopramide online lov cost nitrofurantoin low dose accutane long term results where to get hoodia lollipops aciclovir mg uk what genetic disorder is caused by an extra sex chromosome can i get amantadine pyridium store protonix fast mexico order reglan online with visa amitriptyline sold over counter methylprednisolone acetate injectable yasmin class action in canada are ed drugs covered by insurance prescription drug tadapox generic dostinex switzerland compare prices imitrex medication without prescriptions overnight finasteride online shop coreg tablets from buy viagra wikipedia francais bystolic tablets for purchase prednisone side effects in early pregnancy buy genuine sarafem uk pharmacy mexico glucotrol xl aldactone australia pharmacy how to buy pariet in canada aetna rx home delivery mail service order form is ciprofloxacin better than amoxicillin best online site to buy generic viagra can you buy motrin over the counter in germany hctz 12.5 lisinopril 20mg tab gyne-lotrimin max dose effects of women taking viagra maxalt melt migraine viagra soft online india can i buy phenergan over the counter free coupon for atarax buy clonidine 0.1 mg online pharmacy doxycycline hyclate 50 mg capsules is dapoxetine legal in canada cvs employee discount on prescriptions overnight abana drug prescription weight gain pills that work can i order carfergot on line zithromax australia www.canadian-pharmacy24h.com accordo rx canada reviews buy pariet cheap buy cyklokapron pills online lowest price cabgolin can you order forzest buy zofran online canada zestril shop net aleve without script glycomet usa strattera canadian medications without prescription motrin purchase in canada no prescription decadron prescription assistance tesco pharmacy slough opening times how to get robaxin in australia bupropion xl 150 mg reviews generic name alesse 28 diflucan pills for yeast infections manufacturers clozaril voltaren tegretol diovan logo ephedraxin with paypal payment buy moduretic online us no prescription proventil inhaler canada best place buy eldepryl pct lethal dose of sominex how to take furosemide 40 mg order ventolin without rx protonix without a prescription from us pariet tablets reflux best online pharmacy generic caverta buy emsam pills angela ginseng usa prevacid refills silagra online legally med cab atarax where to buy viagra online review order tamoxifen cheap gyne-lotrimin online uk mxtabs bass tabs buy doxycycline discount new depression medication 2012 viibryd walmart generic prices prescriptions ginseng discounts codes how to use clomid tablet online generic decadron levothroid mail order india olanzapine drug classification buy cheap meclizine what does atarax dosage what are the side effects of paroxetine viagra alternatives in india is seroquel a prescription drug yasmin side effects mood precose mechanism of action hoodia costco reviews cardizem in canada mycelex-g canada overnight delivery there generic pamelor sex pill reviews what is cholestoplex diamox drugs com diuretic cheap capoten 40 mg brand levitra from usa pharmacy what happens when drinking on antibiotics zanaflex overnight pharmacy nizoral from canada pariet 10mg prec,o can buy prevacid online viagra farmacias ahumada inderal next day shipping ciprofloxacina colirio bula xenical back order levitra medicine aceon 10 mg cost best canadian no prescription pharmacy femara letrozole buy no prescription singulair sales 2009 billion buy tegretol tablets online pliva 433 get you high pharmacy has best price artane buying generic viagra in the us where to buy imuran in canada safely cheap cost antibiotics online without buy cialis super active with e check typical starting dose of synthroid where can i get viagra prescription order medrol online no prescription stromectol sale buy colospa usa atacand order canada buy motilium new zealand online is it legal for americans to buy drugs from canada buy diamox singapore morning after pill nhs free bupropion tablets 100 buy actonel from canada premarin on line extendaquin pills sweat is generic viagra soft effective cheap birth control pills canada buy lamictal australia mycelex-g brand positioning side effects of synthroid buying wellbutrin xl buy femara 200 remeron capsules free or low cost diamox no prescription zanaflex harry from one direction chlamydia indocin generic release date macrodantin nitrofurantoin dosage differin .3 to purchase how long does it take for haldol to leave the body zetia in canada tenormin prescription drug what types of infections does levaquin treat list of government pharmacy colleges in india how to take chloroquine for malaria himalaya liv 52 hb price can i order azithromycin online buy bactrim ds no prescription cialis amitriptyline without prescription miami buy generic accutane online from canada blue pill red pill song online pharmacy uk furosemide where to buy topamax with mastercard generic retin-a 0,025 buy canada want to order doxycycline without a prescription methotrexate psoriasis alcohol medrol overnight pet allies show low az directions american finast 500 mg cheap zyvox hytrin low dose birth control promethazine shortage 2012 differin mg usa celebrex pharmacies cheap prandin free delivery buspar drugs forum discount kamagra uk can you buy anacin in ireland clozaril by mail order indian generics online midamor comprar brahmi online canadian online pharmacy for tadalis sx buy zanaflex with visa canada and silagra can you get pregnant while taking isoniazid pink viagra in india compare prices adalat alli drug in germany pharmacy ventolin for men in usa acquistare cafergot in italia neurontin pain killer cheap antivert 12.5 mg walgreens canada rd hwy 64 effexor xr mail order japanese pliva 433 pill white very cheap precose estrace 100mg cheep benicar on line no script tadalafil off label uses buspar for anxiety attacks the organic pharmacy ultra low dose actonel doxycycl hyc 100mg antibiotic doxycycline prednisone dosage for cats tesco buy cialis best price childrens claritin acheter pas cher clozaril how to use cytotec pills trazodone online forum order topamax on line india buyers of sumycin canada generic cialis super active uk paypal zyvox bonus pills antabuse tablets from buy what is cialis tablets used for best place to buy ditropan in canada malegra fxt drug oversea how to get eulexin on line where cane i buy fincar ventolin inhaler long term side effects viagra soft uk no prescription hong kong buy haldol online drugs cipro for purchase compare prices doxycycline flomax in italia acquisto sinemet sicuro online life pharmacy onehunga prescription drug zyprexa can order ginette-35 canada buy phenamax in india online hydroclorothiazide without rx forum online cheap alavert buy fast crestor deleviery buy generic zanaflex online no prescription female cialis 40 mg pharmacy side effects of depakote er 500mg Purchase propecia 5mg order bactrim on line canada ortho tri cyclen side effects mood swings trandate medication order nitrofurantoin sale how to take liv 52 innopran xl tablets side effects 123 reg voucher code reliable online pharmacy no rx citalopram generic equivalent benfotiamine phone orders buy lithium ion battery pack pyridium overnight delivery generic aldactone usa pharmacy chloromycetin overnight pharmacy long term side effects of prednisone steroids buy neurontin online india no prescription antivert for purchase lasix iv push nursing buy biaxin with e check generic drug for detrol la code red pill veterinary drugs no prescription buy pilex with visa prilosec online usa buy bactroban online reviews is it illegal to order antibiotics online best pharmacy to order finast proventil pills buy online over the counter phenergan in australia is viagra professional real liquid ponstel review long term side effects of fincar generic viagra echeck buy eurax without rx med cab styplon viagra australia fast delivery propranolol clorhidrato 40 mg tableta is pulmicort legal in uk crestor online can you buy remeron over the counter order ginseng coffee generic proscar finasteride discount coupon for cymbalta what is ginseng used for in energy drinks can you buy moduretic in ireland buy generic trandate online female cialis delivery london aciclovir 200 mg dispersible tablets buy generic fosamax very cheap topamax canada drugs fucidin with prescription what gas is produced when calcium carbonate caco3 s reacts with hydrochloric acid best mail order for viagra liv cost comparison order viagra soft online uk can you order aldactone orlistat costa rica ordering reglan order exelon tablets canadian pharmacy viagra scam suprax pharmacy online atarax over the counter drugs 25mg pletal by mail order craigslist manchester united tickets craigslist new york city motorcycles plavix women buy albenza tablets for purchase buy nizagara from india generic zyban smoking cessation tenormin online overnight shipping best weight loss supplement for women over the counter what is the price of levaquin 500 mg lynoral prices where can i buy panera acai berry tea use of inderal medicine what is elimite drugs stromectol woldwide shipping brand flagyl er buy arimidex tablets alcohol flagyl us pharmacy piroxicam dosagem buy imuran boots pharmacy advair diskus costco amantadine refill pack purchase generic methotrexate lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide tablets usp nitroglycerin drug class avodart medication generic buy proventil without a subscription duphalac online usa no prescription yasmin prescription coupon prilosec results forum vpxl on line buy cefixime online uk augmentin pill shortage albendazole treatment abilify side effects rash order asacol online with visa how to order desyrel online buspar brand order bactroban reviews cost of alli diet pills cytotec sale baguio generic zyban side effects does alli work by mail up comprar periactin online what is the normal dosage of zoloft for anxiety tadalis sx refill pack tinidazole tablets and alcohol citalopram and diet pills top pharmacy schools europe buy nymphomax online with mastercard ordering cialis prescription lowest prices how to order kamagra oral jelly online do you need rx geriforte syrup 10 off drugstore.com code kamagra soft usa sale zanaflex dose in children effexor xr online in uk midamor without prescription is anafranil a prescription drug side effects of lamictal overdose how good is cialis for women viagra without prescriptions uk augmentin australia companies only buy zocor online no prescription usa buy benfotiamine online pharmacy altace prices cvs premarin online ordering order phenergan online canada sale erexin-v top 100 otc meds levothroid mail order janssen cilag products egypt what does zanaflex show up as on a drug screen liv 52 dose cheapest antabuse in the uk sarafem costco tenormin medication order retin a micro gel 04 reviews zovirax mexico companies only what is prevacid 30 mg buy bactrim tablets usa prozac side effects duration a good web page to buy aciphex with no script morning after pill over the counter walmart can order betoptic online buy nimotop in ireland avapro over the counter 300mg pharmacy acquistare lady era in italia ortho tri cyclen lo missed 3 pills over counter paxil buy cytotec 200 is there a generic for lipitor in canada viagra professional 40 mg dose buy online lamictal generic non generic dapoxetine erexor prix en pharmacie en france paroxetine prescription cheap generic paxil best place buy accutane online levlen billig kaufen order zyprexa cheap buy online zantac generic atrovent discontinued citalopram hydrobromide 20mg tablets atarax 100mg vidal alli weight loss product information where to buy prevacid online usa how to take toprol xl mg fast acting herbal viagra actoplus in usa cialis super active from india international pharmacy from india cheap alli 84 pack medicine online no prescription needed over the counter femcare viagra commercial 2012 aciphex 20 mg reviews strattera canada no prescription strattera daily use reviews where purchase xeloda phone in order for suprax generic hydrea cost reviews on geriforte finpecia sale trandate usa pharmacy femara comprar buy tinidazole astrailia buy kamagra jelly online uk generic viagra roxithromycin brand order nizagara india clomid pregnancy success what types of beconase aq are there what is viagra for women in hindi what is zithromax for cats cheap generic keftab buy genuine cialis jelly uk what is fexofenadine-pse er 60-120 tab meclizine tablets fast snovitra super power deleviery is lyrica better than neurontin for nerve pain how to get pulmicort in australia betnovate pharmacy prices list keppra prescription coupon atorlip 10 mg what does levaquin cure best price for depakote is there a drug comparative to albendazole buy cheap xenical using pay pal boots pharmacy online australia purchase clomid australia robaxin from europe fincar from usa benzac ac wash priceline paroxetine shoppers drug mart prevacid dose for 3 month old rhinocort online legally cheap zerit buy online florida cytotechnologist licensure where to buy acai berry fruit prescription acne medication differin unisom in the uk comprar luvox 100 mg floxin mexico antibiotic bacterial infections bupropion usa sale where can i buy prednisone tablets without prescription in the netherlands top 10 online bystolic sites purchase levaquin 750 mg keftab women buy where was broadchurch filmed itv buy venlor uk maxaman prescription coupon buy tadapox pills online cheap generic promethazine order xenical in canada heartworm meds for dogs online cefadroxil side effects joint pain no prescription terramycin orlistat 60 mg fingras order keflex pill ampicillin generic 2013 drugs cheap saw palmetto no prescription lioresal echeck suhagra for purchase buy cefadroxil hong kong purchase tetracycline yasmin birth control pills review what is allopurinol medication used for side effects clomid price in india over counter cefadroxil onde comprar methotrexate finax finasteride side effects what is pfizer vgr 100 used for holistic medicine low back pain what is lynoral made of metoclopramide pregnancy class can you buy hyzaar drugs losartan where do i buy alesse carafate comprare pharmacy online propranolol actos pharmacy type diabetes pioglitazone do you need rx colchicine how much will aygestin cost buy astelin pills online atrovent nasal spray australia can you take zyrtec d daily erection packs 20 drugs pills x 20mg how long does viagra side effects last do you need prescription anxiety pills promethazine order in the us side effects of claritin d 24 hour para que se usa el carafate is nitroglycerin an over the counter drug best place buy exelon is maxalt generic available depakote sales 2007 best otc inhaler asthma purchase flagyl 500mg online zyban barato mail order aleve asacol side effects hair loss norco aurum 1 is there anything like viagra for women levaquin online sales plavix 75 mg 90 film tablet cheapest drug medrol januvia prescribing information uk nizoral shampoo side effects onde comprar levitra em recife can you order accutane can i get diclofenac kamagra coupon code what is doxycycline use for where purchase caverta alesse mail order buy zithromax pills betnovate 1 5 cream side effects anthem blue cross california mail order prescriptions herbal viagra ann summers januvia delivery london motilium to buy in the uk without a prescription levitra for sale in canada buy seroquel 5 zentel 200 mg 10 tabletas buy triamterene hctz no prescription buy generic vasotec online generic viagra reviews forum 100mg online pharmacy is prilosec sold over the counter to buy atarax 10mg 25mg celexa 100mg tablet cheap online viagra australia tetracycline acne results what is cleocin prescribed for is accutane a prescription drug diclofenac diethylammonium gel india feldene tablets side effects order allopurinol canada where to buy ed pills online lisinopril 20 mg w 941 moduretic 20mg tab list of vipps pharmacies compazine lawsuit can you buy albendazole canadian prescription can i buy ginette 35 over the internet baclofen trigeminal neuralgia reviews buy levitra professional 80 mg online comprar forzest original buy plavix online from usa buy azithromycin single dose for chlamydia motilium over the couter order viagra online canada pill how much is accutane in canada european pharmacy students association what does prevacid contain tinidazole for giardia dosage cheap pilex 40 mg buy tamoxifen pills in the us cheapest place to buy hyzaar what is the generic medicine for nexium where do i valtrex in india encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine nursing and allied health book buy augmentin patch what does clomid do to eggs us online pharmacy no prescription clonidine indian generic version of viagra can you buy suprax over the counter cafergot online usa no prescription comprar viagra generico portugal reviews on ciplox reviews on lotensin liv for sale australia protonix 20 mg tablets maximum safe dose of viagra lipothin doctors online can you buy mg lopressor online how long to use evista toprol xl purchase in canada no prescription lerk umbra is the generic form of lexapro the same triamterene side effects rash where can i buy suprax in canada solu medrol 100
Know how

Article categories

Grow your own

Whatever the scale of your ambitions or plot you'll find something useful here.

Make your own

Reduce your footprint by making your own, from knitting to soap-making to adorning your home.

Livestock and pets

Find out about rearing livestock from the farm to the garden, and doing the best for your pets.

Energy efficiency and construction

Discover how to adapt, change and even build your own home to enable you to tread more lightly upon the planet.

Cooking, preserving and home brewing

From the home brewery to ambitions of chefly grandeur. Find out how to do it all here and really taste the difference.

Wild food

Subsidise the larder in a sustainable way. From fishing, to shooting, to foraging safely, find it among these articles.

Conservation and the environment

Conserve our world for future generations. See how you can help in these pages.


From shopping with a conscience to building your own enterprise. Find advice and encouragement among these pages.

Everything else

Sometimes the diversity of downsizing can throw up an unusual topic.


Past editorial items from the downsizer front page.

You are here: Home arrow Articles arrow Make your own arrow Making soap from woodash lye


Making soap from woodash lye

Written by sally_in_wales

Please note, this article is offered primarily as a novelty. Whilst you certainly can make soap successfully from woodash lye, it is a slightly hit and miss process and you may find it faster and more reliable to make soap using a commercially available lye carefully weighed to convert exactly the right amount of fats into high quality soap. Please also note that any form of soapmaking involves working with highly caustic substances, and all sensible precautions should be taken. In the photos I am not wearing gloves and goggles- I really should be.

Stage one: Collect your ash.

Ashes for soapmaking have historically come from a wide range of sources including seaweed and bracken, but for our purposes the ashes you want come from burnt hardwoods. Softwoods don't give nearly as good a result. You need far more than you might think, so save up your ashes over the winter, preferably from fires that haven't involved firelighters, masses of paper or other rubbish, and keep them somewhere dry and airtight until you need them. Mine were from a mix of primarily beech, oak, ash and a bit of other typical British woodland trees, and the cold ashes went into a plastic lidded dustbin where they sat for a year waiting for me to get round to this.

Stage two: Set up your lye barrel.

Traditionally, one uses an old wooden barrel or lye hopper for this, even hollow treetrunks in some areas, but in this day and age the trusty plastic dustbin is probably the most accessible container. Drill a hole near the bottom and fit a bung so you can draw off the lye later.

In the bottom, put a filter made from a couple of inch depth of twigs, and the same again of straw or hay. This helps ensure the lye comes off moderately clear.

Stand the lye barrel up high enough to get a container underneath (plastic, glass or stainless steel is usually best, be aware that lye will eat through aluminium), make sure it is stable, and fill it up with those ashes.

Add water. It will take far more water than you think, I had to come back a couple of times and add more as it soaked into the ashes.

Tasty looking isn't it! Anyone for cindersoup? Leave it all overnight. In my case, my bung isn't a perfect fit so it was already dripping nicely into my container when I got up, but if yours is watertight, draw the bung and let the lye run out into your container.

At this point learn from my mistakes! I came down to half a bucket of what looked very much like cold coffee, and whilst I was expecting it to be alkaline, I forgot just how strong it was likely to be at first run, so I put a drop of the slick, soapy feeling liquid on my tongue to test the relative alkalinity. Bad move, it was painfully strong, and I was lucky not to do myself a mischief. Whilst cautiously taste testing lye and soap is a time honoured way of estimating strength, its not necessarily the most sensible, and using ph papers wouldn't be a bad move instead.

I decanted this off into a storage jar and put the bucket back to catch the next batch as it dripped out.

Stage three: check your lye strength

A lot of the old soapmaking texts say lye is strong enough for soap when you can float a fresh egg in it with a good portion showing above the surface. Mine from the first run of lye floats an egg with a small amount showing above the surface. (Its got to be a fresh egg, because an old, stale egg will float anyway.)

From here, I could boil down the lye to concentrate it, but as its not that far off strong enough I decided to carry on and adjust the soap as I went with more oil or lye as needed.

Stage four: make your soap!

I'm using olive oil for my batch, I want a soft soap that can be used for a variety of household tasks. Other fats work fine, but your batch may look a bit different to mine.

In this picture I have added a pint of oil (transparent and faintly greenish gold in colour) to a pint of lye (looked like black coffee)and whisked it together. I immediately got this milky looking slightly emulsified concoction, and yes, those are a few soap bubbles on top! This is with cold ingredients and about 2 minutes whisking.

I'm expecting to need to heat this up for the reaction to work properly, and I'll almost certainly need to add more lye or oil later on. For now though, it can have a few hours sitting quietly and being whisked every time I walk past it until we put the stove on later.

2 hours later it visually looks about the same except there are more bubbles when its whisked. I put it on the edge of the stove at this point to warm it up gently.

After 2 hours on the edge of the stove barely simmering away, we have trace! This is the point at which you can see the trail left by the spoon in the soap for a few seconds, and its always really encouraging. Its still a long way from done and the alkalinity is very high still, but I'll leave it settle overnight now and will test and adjust in the morning. That dark colouration has just about gone as well, doesn't look much different to soap made with granulated lye at this point.

The next morning, we have a thick creamy mass in the pan similar in texture and appearance to thick yogurt. Its still highly alkaline by the pH papers (although interestingly, soap does odd things to pH papers and they aren't always fully accurate on soap for some quite complicated reasons, soap is often a higher pH than the papers indicate), but it is neutral on the tongue and there is a lot of oil left when its rubbed between the fingers. So, another pint of lye is going in, and it will get warmed up at lunchtime and we shall see what happens.

It might seem odd to be adding more lye when it is still showing as more alkaline than finished soap should be, but whatever is still in there is no longer doing its thing to create soap, so topping it up will hopefully bring the conditions back up to a point where the reaction starts up again. Soap is pretty much always alkaline even when finished unless you add things to get it close to neutral, but there is a point where its definately alkaline but not enough to create more soap from any fat that hasn't been converted yet. I won't pretend to completely understand the chemistry at this precise point in the conversion from fat and lye to soap, I'm just doing it according to the old methods and using touch and taste to indicate what needs doing next- without the indicator paper, the taste and touch tests would have suggested it was more or less 'neutral' in the broadest sense of the word even though the actual ph is still quite high.

After a couple of hours more very gentle cooking, during which time we have had the full repertoire of 'boiling goo' 'imminent volcano' 'bloop bloop gloop' and other interesting visual effects, the pan looks like this. (Best description I can offer is to say it as the colour and texture of those strange butterscotch puddings that come in packets and which you add milk to, the sort of thing you may have had for pudding when you were about 5 or so). It also now comes away from the side of the pan when you tip it.

With normal soft soap, I would expect it to be turning darkly transparent about now, but possibly due to impurities in the lye, its staying opaque.

A sample mixed in water now does this- bubbles! It now feels and acts like any other soft soap, the ph of the bubble mixture is down to about 9, thats only a little bit higher than a plain handmade soap that hasnt been superfatted, and it has stopped 'biting' when tasted. This may also come down a little bit with time as soap continues to finish for several days after making.

The soap now gets to cool down very slowly in a warm place, but essentially that worked. Twice the volume of lye in which you can float an egg to oil, and a lot of slow steady cooking = soap.

The finished product:

This is the soap potted up the next morning, a good pint or so of finished soft soap.

and this one is the empty pot getting washed up, those bubbles are all from the soft soap residue in the pan. They feel lovely and creamy on the skin and have a pH (by indicator papers, so may be off slightly) of about 8. This batch of soap will probably mostly get used for scrubbing down woodwork and washing greasy fibre.