Does Lye Soap Make Good Laundry Soap?

Lye Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

That’s what Autumn of Autumn Asks Why set out to discover. I sent her three bars of my Old-Fashioned Lye Soap several weeks ago for her experiment. Autumn’s recipe is a combination of washing soda, borax, oxygen booster, and grated bar soap. She has tried four different types of bar soap for in her quest for the best laundry soap, and the results are now in! I may be tweaking the next batch just a little when I make it next week (yes, it’s currently out of stock!). Click here to read her review and find out what might need to change.

Two Soaps Now Available

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap

Oatmeal, Milk and Honey handmade natural soap is now available for purchase at It is made with fresh goat’s milk, pulverized oats, and local honey, and it’s one of the most moisturizing soaps you can use. If your skin is all dried out from the winter air, give it a treat with some Oatmeal, Milk and Honey soap! It has been fragranced with a scent to match the ingredients. A long-time favorite for many Great Cakes Soapworks customers since 2004. (In fact, the first batch of Oatmeal, Milk and Honey soap was made on July 2, 2004. It was the 15th batch of soap that I had ever made and I totally ruined it by using quick oats instead of regular oats. I made another batch just 10 days later with regular oats that turned out MUCH better!!)

Old-Fashioned Lye Soap

Old-Fashioned Lye Soap

The Old-Fashioned Lye Soap is also available for purchase today. This is the soap I told you about a couple weeks ago. There are many uses for old-fashioned lye soap, but the one my customers requested it for the most was for treating poison ivy. It won’t be long now until all the plants – desirable and undesirable – will be green and growing again, so you might want to be prepared if you are susceptible to poison ivy.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the Handmade Soap Combo Deal to get all $5.95 regular priced soaps 4 for $20.

On the Curing Rack: Old Fashioned Lye Soap

Old Fashioned Lye Soap

Old Fashioned Lye Soap

After receiving many requests for old fashioned lye soap, I started making it almost three years ago. Old fashioned lye soap is the only soap that I make with animal fat. I use 100% lard for this recipe, with a bit of borax added to help soften the water. This is also the only soap that I make without any superfat. All of the other soaps that I make are superfatted at 4-6%, meaning that 4-6% of the finished soap is excess fats that have not been chemically altered by the lye to form soap. This, in addition to the glycerin that is formed from the saponification process, helps contribute to the moisturizing effects of the majority of my handmade natural soaps.

So, why no superfat in the old fashioned lye soap? There are three different uses of this soap that make superfatting unnecessary:

1. Laundry soap. Of course, back in the day, lye soap was all that was used for laundry soap. Some people still like to use it and declare that it’s way better than the commercial detergents that most people use today. If there was excess fat in the soap, it would leave oil marks on clothing.

2. Poison ivy remedy. You can read more about how to use old fashioned lye soap to treat poison ivy by clicking the link. Because the soap has a drying effect without the superfat, it can help heal up those pesky – perhaps “miserable” is a better word – outbreaks.

3. Facial soap for oily skin. An elderly lady was talking to me at the farmer’s market one day about growing up using old fashioned lye soap for everything – including skin, of course. She was convinced that people had fewer acne problems back then because of the soap. One of my customers gave me this testimonial: “After buying your lye soap this summer, I have noticed that my teenage son’s acne has cleared and my hands aren’t nearly as dry as usual in the winter. My family’s skin has always been sensitive and your soap has been a true blessing!”
—Kathy B., Olathe, KS

Now I’ve heard from other soapmakers that this soap really doesn’t need to cure all that long, since the longer a handmade soap cures, the milder it gets. The purpose of this soap isn’t to be mild at all, but to be somewhat drying. However, I will be leaving this one on the curing rack for two weeks anyway, so it will be available on March 10th.

I will be following up tomorrow with information about the differences between old fashioned lye soap and the handmade natural soap that soapmakers create today.