In the beginning .....Months of saved Hardwood Ashes from numerous colonial wood fires were collected. The ashes were then steeped and boiled in water to leach out the Lye. Fats and oils from saved scraps of beef or pork were cooked to a liquid form.
When the desired quantities and proportions were right the Lye and Fats were combined in a large cook pot and boiled over an outdoor wood fire. It would take hours of stirring and boiling until this mixture was reduced and became thick and foamy.
The smell from this whole process was said to have been horrific and lingered for days. There was also no guarantee that the percentages of lye to oil were correct, resulting in many failed attempts.
Today's soapmaking has become far more sophisticated. Pure refined oils and butters can now be purchased from your local grocers and Lye can be purchased from a reputable supplier. The whole process can take place in your kitchen with literally no odour. Our colonial ancestors were certainly a hardy bunch to have endured this process in days past.
With the ever growing slow realization of how chemically laden our environment is, many are now seeking safer and healthier options. Handmade Soap is another step in the right direction. The creativity and ingenuity of today's soapmakers has taken this craft of necessity to a whole new level from the simplest of bars to ones filled with colour, texture and exotic aromas creating mini works of art.