One of the major ingredients in soap making is Caustic Soda or Lye. Most soap-makers use industrial grade Sodium Hydroxide as their Caustic Soda but really any strong base would work in the soap making process. One such caustic that can be produced at home is Caustic Potash, or Potassium Hydroxide. While potassium hydroxide is often used to make softer bars of soap or even liquid soap, the type of wood ashes that are used can be selected to impart extra properties to the soap that would not be available to industrially purified chemicals. What every lye you choose to use the metaphysical farms lye calculator lets you choose either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide when making soap. If you want to know how to make your own lye you will need the following equipment:
The first ingredient you will need is soft water. You can obtain this by buying soft distilled water (no mineral water), getting water from a dehumidifier or the traditional way is to collect rain water in a barrel. This ingredient by far is the most important to get right to ensure a good leaching of lye. Next you will need a container with a spout at the bottom. Traditionally this has been a wooden barrel with a hole drilled on the bottom big enough for a cork but if you don't have access to wooden barrels, you can easily use a cooler with a spout at the bottom. You will also need rocks and straw or cheese cloth to filter the ash. The final ingredient you need is wood ashes. The best ashes to use are hardwoods and you want to avoid evergreens (like pine and fir). Other things you can use are ashes of herbs and flowers to add a special touch to your lye.