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LYE soap


friendlyMOM
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Okay I know soap cannot be soap without lye, but my friend bought some soap that they claimed to be old time lye soap, now what I was wondering is.... Is there a difference in the homemade soap we make today and the LYE soap our grandmothers used to make? I told her I did not know and the lady insisted there was and told her that the plain lye soap she was selling would help with chiggers and poison ivy and to rub it on the spots and just leave it! Not sure if there is any trueth to that and figured I would ask you all if there was any trueth to anything she said. Thanks

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Different oils, mostly. And now we can calculate just how much lye to use so our soap might be milder. (for poison ivy a harsher, perhaps slightly lye-heavy) might be ok.

In the "old days", (at least outside of the mediterranean area) people soaped mainly with lard or with tallow - fats they had easy access to. These are not particularly conditioning either.

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Is she making her own lye, I do know someone out there does make her own lye for the soap. (I wish I could remember her name, it's a lot of work & I give her a lot of credit) I think there is a way to measure how "strong" the lye water is by putting an egg in the lye water & seeing how much it floats but I do not know what I'm talking about. IMHO this would be the most "natural" soap you could get. (depending on what you then add to it)

Karen B

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Yep, I've had to test this out growing up, so I can vouch for the lady. Lye soap (meaning 0% superfat or even lye-heavy by 1-2%) can offer some relief from poison ivy if lathered up REAL GOOD and left on to dry. It's quite possibly the nastiest, slimiest, most gross feeling in the world, to have this greasy "gook" layered over top of itchy blisters that already feel bigger than they look, but it does seem to help dry it up. I'm assuming that it's 'eating' away at it by drying up the oils, but that's just my perception. I'm highly allergic to poison ivy and poison oak, so I find myself testing this theory at least once every year. It's never failed me yet and now I pass it on to my daughter who's also highly allergic. Calamine lotion does nothing for either of us except 'stir up' the itchies by rubbing it on. So it's lye soap and nothing else for us. My step-mother uses it on her psoriasis and swears it gives her relief for that as well. Results will vary depending on the soap recipe and the individual. OH...and using it anywhere else on the body will cause noticeable dryness of skin almost immediately! (learned that the hard way) So whatever ya do, don't get em mixed up in the shower, lol.

Karen B, that's incredible that someone makes her own lye! How fascinating! I'd read up on the process of doing that some time back and there's a LOT to it! Bravo for her!

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Thanks all, I will ask her if she does make her own lye, she had just some small chunks they were unscented and white as snow, that was all she sold soap wise, and said it would help the poison ivy, she sold it as lye soap and that was all, gonna check next time and thanks for the help. Guess I will try it tonight

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what I just thought about was, they did not even have a label on it with any ingredients, its just nekid, no business card, label nothing, was gonna check for list of ingredients and nothing, I used it last night and to me there was no difference than in some I have made, it was not super hard or nothing, it has zero smell and does not lather well, I am gonna go back and see if I could get the ingredient list or something, that does not seem right, she has a large amount of this stuff not to have put ingredients on them or in the bag.

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what I just thought about was, they did not even have a label on it with any ingredients, its just nekid, no business card, label nothing, was gonna check for list of ingredients and nothing, I used it last night and to me there was no difference than in some I have made, it was not super hard or nothing, it has zero smell and does not lather well, I am gonna go back and see if I could get the ingredient list or something, that does not seem right, she has a large amount of this stuff not to have put ingredients on them or in the bag.

Since it's soap, she is not required to label the ingredients. However, since she is making a claim other than "it will get you clean" by saying it will help with the poison ivy, she really should have the ingredients on there. That's the only time you are required to label soap, is if you are making cosmetic claims. :)

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The problem with making your own lye solution by soaking hardwood ashes is you don't know the exact strength. This is why some old-fashioned soaps were lye-heavy. Personally, I'd rather be able to get estimates on SAP values and calculate my lye exactly than to take chances with a rain barrel. :)

Also, I agree with the previous poster on fats ... the old-fashioned soaps typically used rendered tallow or lard, not olive, palm & coconut!

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The problem with making your own lye solution by soaking hardwood ashes is you don't know the exact strength. This is why some old-fashioned soaps were lye-heavy. Personally, I'd rather be able to get estimates on SAP values and calculate my lye exactly than to take chances with a rain barrel. :)

Also, I agree with the previous poster on fats ... the old-fashioned soaps typically used rendered tallow or lard, not olive, palm & coconut!

Edited to add: Forgot to say that I also make a "Grandma's Old-Fashioned Lye Soap" and sell it to customers wanting something to get rid of poison ivy oils. A good friend claims it's the only soap that helps his oily skin feel clean too, so he uses it every day in the shower. LOL At any rate, it's basically a lard soap with a titch of coconut for improved lather. I go 1% on the superfatting (I don't like teetering near the edge of the precipice at 0% superfat since SAP values do vary).

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