To Make Lye

Provide a large tub, made of pine or ash, and set it on a form, so high that a tub can stand under it. Make a hole, an inch in diameter, near the bottom, on one side. Lay bricks inside about this hole, and straw over them. To every seven bushels of ashes add two gallons of unslack-ed lime, and throw in the ashes and lime in alternate layers. While putting in the ashes and lime, pour on boiling water, using three or four pailfuls. After this, add a pailful of cold soft water once an hour, till all the ashes appear to be well soaked. Catch the drippings in a tub and try its strength with an egg. If the egg rise so as to show a circle as large as a ten-cent piece, the strength is right; if it rise higher, the lye must be weakened by water; if not so high, the ashes are not good, and the whole process must be repeated, putting in fresh ashes, and running the weak lye through the new ashes, with some additional water. Quick-lye is made by pouring one gallon of boiling soft water on three quarts of ashes, and straining it. Oak ashes are best.

To Make, Soft Soap

Save all drippings and fat, melt them, and set them away in cakes. Some persons keep, for soap-grease, a half-barrel, with weak lye in it, and a cover over it. To make soft soap, take the proportion of one pailful of lye to three pounds of fat. Melt the fat, and pour in the lye, by degrees. Boil it steadily, through the day, till it is ropy. If not boiled enough, on cooling it will turn to lye and sediment. While boiling, there should always be a little oil on the surface. If this does not appear, add more grease. If there is too much grease, on cooling, it will rise, and can be skimmed off. Try it, by cooling a small quantity. When it appears like jelly on becoming cold, it is done. It must then be put in a cool place and often stirred.

To make cold Soft Soap, melt thirty pounds of grease, put it in a barrel, add four pailfuls of strong lye, and stir it up thoroughly. Then gradually add more lye, till the barrel is nearly full, and the soap looks about right.

To make Potash-Soap, melt thirty-nine pounds of grease, and put it in a barrel. Take twenty-nine pounds of light ash-colored potash, (the reddish-colored will spoil the soap,) and pour hot water on it; then pour it off into the grease, stirring it well. Continue thus till all the potash is melted. Add one pailful of cold water, stirring it a great deal every day, till the barrel be full, and then it is done. This is the cheapest and best kind of soap. It is best to sell ashes and buy potash. The soap is better, if it stand a year before it is used; therefore make two barrels at once.

To Prepare Starch

Take four table-spoonfuls of starch; put in as much water, and rub it, till all lumps are removed. Then add half a cup of cold water. Pour this into a quart of boiling water, and boil it for half an hour, adding a piece of spermaceti, or a lump of salt or sugar, as large as a hazelnut. Strain it, and put in a very little bluing. Thin it with hot water.


Send a junk-bottle to the butcher, and have several gall-bladders emptied into it. Keep it salted, and in a cool place. Some persons perfume it; but fresh air removes the unpleasant smell which it gives, when used for clothes.