In your prepping efforts, you are bound to forget something. There just isn’t a way around it because you can’t accurately predict every situation that can happen, and there is already a large number of items to stockpile and skills to master. So, you could be forgiven for forgetting about soap, but, believe me, you would be missing it if you didn’t have enough stockpiled and didn’t know how to make more.
Fortunately, making soap doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal, especially if you are a “normal” homesteader working to live off grid and live off the land. You can make a basic, crude soap out of two ingredients that most homesteaders and dedicated preppers have or will have access to: hard wood ash and left over animal fat. In fact, Robin Marri Miller gives these simple instructions if you simply need to clean a pan:
For all the campers out there, many likely have already discovered that by just throwing some white ashes into the hot frying pan, the lye from the ashes will combine with the fat or oil in the pan to form a crude soap.
But, if you’re like most of us, you’ll want more soap than just that little bit so that you can bathe occasionally (or more than occasionally, if you’re like me). In that case, you’ll want to plan ahead and make sure that you have goggles and gloves and non-aluminum pots for this process due to the lye which comes from the wood ash. Miller says to boil hardwood ashes in soft water (Miller suggests rainwater). After this time, skim the lye from the top and save it in a container until you have enough for the soap. You’ll want to also collect leftover lard from cooking and leftover animal fats.
Next, you’ll boil the lye until it is more solid. At the same time, you’ll boil the animal fats until the water renders out. Then, with the animal fat still hot, slowly mix the animal fats into the lye.
Finally, pour the mixture into a container covered in grease (so that the soap doesn’t stick) and let it cool.
And now you have a basic soap. Admittedly, this is lye soap, so it’s not likely to be as comfortable as using your grocery store bar soap. Still, this is a convenient way to get clean when you’re off grid.