The ashes should be of hardwood (hickory is best), and kept dry. When put in the hopper, mix a bushel of unslacked lime with ten bushels of ashes; put in a layer of ashes; then one slight sprinkling of lime; wet each layer with water (rain water is best). A layer of straw should be put upon the bottom of the hopper before the ashes are put in. An opening in the side or bottom for the lye to drip through, and a trough or vessel under to receive the lye. When the lye is strong enough to bear up an egg, so as to show the size of a dime above the surface, it is ready for making soap; until it is, pour it back into the hopper, and let it drip through again. Add water to the ashes in such quantities as may be needed. Have the vessel very clean in which the soap is to be made. Rub the pot over with corn meal after washing it, and if it is at all discolored, rub it over with more until the vessel is perfectly clean. Melt three pounds of clean grease; add to it a gallon of weak lye, a piece of alum the size of a walnut. Let this stew until well mixed. If strong lye is put to the grease, at first it will not mix well with the grease. In an hour add three gallons of strong hot lye; boil briskly, and stir frequently; stir one way. After it has boiled several hours, cool a spoonful upon a plate; if it does not jelly, add a little water; if this causes it to jelly, then add water to the kettle. Stir quickly while the water is poured in until it ropes on the stick. As to the quantity of water required to make it jelly, judgment must be used; the quantity will depend upon circumstances. It will be well to take some in a bowl, and notice what proportion of water is used to produce this effect.
To harden it: Add a quart of salt to this quantity of soap; let it boil quick ten minutes; let it cool. Next day cut it out. This is now ready for washing purposes.