Much of the toilet and laundry soaps in the market are adulterated with injurious, and, to some persons, poisonous sub-tances, by which diseases of the skin are occasioned or greatly aggravated, and great suffering results, which is rarely traced to the real cause. The fat tried from animals which have died of disease, if not thoroughly saponified, is poisonous, and sometimes produces death. If in making soap the mass is heated to too high a degree, a film of soap forms around the particles of fat; if at this stage resin, sal-soda, silicate, and other adulterations are added, the fat is not saponified, but filmed, and if poisonous or diseased, it so remains, and is dangerous to use. A bar of such soap has an oily feeling, and is unfit for use. If it feels sticky, it has too much resin in it. The slippery feeling which belongs to soap properly made can not be mistaken. Another test of pure soft or hard soap is its translucent or semi-transparent appearance. Soft soap that is cloudy is not thoroughly saponified, or else has been made of dirty or impure grease. It is not only safer but more economical to buy pure soap, as the adulterations increase the quantity without adding to the erasive power. Some of the brown soaps sold in the market are seventy-five per cent, resin, and the buyer gets only twenty-five per cent of what he wants for his money. Fifteen per cent, of resin improves the quality, but any excess damages it, and is worse than useless. Almost any family may make excellent soft soap with very little expense by saving grease, and using lye from pure hard wood ashes or pure potash. Never use concentrated lye.
To set the leach, bore several auger holes in the bottom of a barrel; or use one without a bottom; prepare a board larger than the barrel, set barrel on it, and cut a groove around just outside the barrel, making one •groove from this to the edge of the board to carry off the lye as it runs off, with a groove around it, running into one in the center of the board. Place two feet from the ground, and tip so that the lye may run easily from the board into the vessel below prepared to receive it. Put half-bricks or stones around the edge of inside of barrel, place on them one end of sticks one or two inches wide, inclining to the center; place straw to the depth of two inches, over it scatter two pounds slacked lime; put in the ashes about a half bushel at a time, pack well by using a pounder, spade, or common ax; continue to pack until barrel is full, leaving a funnel-shaped hollow in the center large enough to hold several quarts of water. Use soft or rain-water, and boiling hot. Let the first water disappear before adding more. If the ashes are packed very tightly, it may require two or three days before the lye will begin to run, but it is much better as it will be stronger. If a large quantity of lye is needed, prepare a board long enough to hold two or more barrels, one back of the other, with a groove in the center the entire length of the board; on this place the barrels prepared as above.
Sun or Cold Soap is made by adding one pound of cleansed grease, spoiled lard or butter, to each gallon of lye strong enough to float an egg. Set the vessel in the sun and stir thoroughly each day until it is good soap. This gives it a golden color, and produces an excellent soap for washing. It may be used in washing even laces and fine cambrics with perfect safety.