Most of the people who are in a survival situation, do not think about hygiene at all. But the main point is that it is really important because if you keep your body clean, you can avoid all the diseases and infections. These ailments can kill you or make your life tough in that situation. Another thing to note here is that making through the survival situation is not that tough as you might think. Importantly, you would be requiring your material used in usual survival activities like grease, ash or animal fat.
Making soap in survival situation
One of the most common way to make a cleaner is to mix wooden ash into grease. This method is really quick and easy to make. The only problem here is that the cleaner which will be formed can be used to clean kitchen utensils, tools etc. and is not suitable to use on human body. So if you want to create homemade soap while using the common material you find in the wilderness, follow the below mentioned steps
1. First you have to start with removing pearl ash (which is a purified version of potash) or potash itself, which are basically different forms of potassium based alkali present in wood material or plants. You can do this by leaching. Next you need to make a container having small holes present in the bottom
2. Form the first layer by placing small gravel. This layer will form at the bottommost part of the container
3. Then above the layer of gravel, place sand or straw. Basically the use of sand or straw is because they function as a filter. Do not worry, if you cannot find them, you can use any kind of filter
4. Now you would have to fill the rest of the container with the ashes. These ashes have to be of a cooled campfire which makes it easy to obtain.
5. Now you have to place a cooking container below the first container so that you catch the runoff.
6. Start now with pouring about a gallon of water onto the ashes. Doing this will allow the brownish-grey water (also called lye) to pass through the hole present at the bottom of the container. Then it will pass on to the second water underneath the first. You should pour slowly, like 2, 3 ounces in a minute. Do note that if the ashes have started to swim, then you should slow down the pace of pouring. During the leaching process, if you notice that lye is losing colour, then you can add more ash too.
7. After this boil the lye water using the cooking container. It should be done until half of the water has been evaporated. The mixture thus formed may froth or foam. Small bubbles will also rise from the sides of the pot. The solution thus formed is called potassium carbonate or potash
8. Now add grease, animal fat and half a cup lard to the boiling mixture and keep cooking for about 30 minutes. Note that if you are using animal fat (which could be the case if you are making soap in the wilderness, and that is the most easily available option) then do ensure that it is free meat, blood or food particles. But if the animal fat is not pure, then it may spoil the soap in the drying process.
9. Now it’s time to place the mixture into molds. Do not worry about the shape of the mold as it does not matter. You can use a deep dish or wooden mold carved from tree wood would also do. Large mold can also be used and once the soap is hardened, cut the bars into pieces.
10. Leave the mixture to dry for 1-2 days. After that remove the soap from the mold.
11. If you have used larger mold, cut it into pieces
12. Now you need to place the soap in a well ventilated area for about 10-14 days. If you have a lot of soap bars, it is better not to stack them up but to lay them which would help in the drying process.
Additional notes to be taken in consideration
Animal fats used in soap making process
You can clean the animal fats used in the soap making with a process called rendering. With this process you can remove all the animal meat tissue which surrounds the animal fat. Add the fats (chopped into small pieces) with cooking grease in a container having a small amount of water. Do not stop boiling the mixture until all the fats and grease is completely melted. Now remove the mixture from boiling and add more water to it. Let the solution cool overnight and the next day you will see all the animal fat solidified at the bottom of the container. That layer would be a clean layer of fat.
Softness and hardness of resulting soap
After the whole soap making process, if the resultant soap is too soft then you can put more salt on top of it. Once you do that, the soap will absorb the water and will harden it, giving it the texture similar to the commercial soaps. Another thing to consider here is that the type of water which you use in the soap making process also determines the end product. If you use rain or spring water, then it would be a best case scenario as they do not contain any acidic chemicals or metallic substance present. You can also use river water but for that you would also require baking soda or salt to harden the soap.
Making the soap smell good
You can make your soap smell good by adding natural fragrances to it. For example you can use wintergreen or oil squeezed from lavender which would make the soap smell as the commercial soap. Another substances which can be used are lemon juice or vinegar which can make the soap free of any kind of pungent or undesirable smell
Other uses of lye water
You can also use lye water to sanitize latrines and outhouses as it kill the bacteria and it would be quite beneficial when you are in the wilderness.