Pioneer soap carving

Hands-on activity for soap carving
Hands-on activity for soap carving
A Land Remembered, inspired by Patrick Smith’s novel by the same name, includes a replica pioneer cabin, original artifacts, and a hands-on discovery center.


Long ago, in the pioneer days, people used the same type of soap for many purposes, including house cleaning, laundry, dishes, and hygiene. The soap was handmade using tallow, lye, and water.
Lye is made from wood ashes usually gathered from the fireplace and put in a wooden hopper. They typically needed about one wooden barrel of ashes to make the lye.

The pioneers poured about 4 liters of water over the ashes to soak them. The water that seeped out was the lye water!

Next, the lye and tallow were boiled together to make a mixture. This mixture was then poured into old dishes or anything the pioneers could find to make a mold.

After the soap was left out to harden, the soap was removed from the molds, then carved into squares. This soap was used to wash everything!!

Soap carving is a fun craft you can do with a parent! Let your imagination go crazy and carve your soap into something fun! You could make your own fish, a heart, or your favorite animal! Below are the supplies and directions to make your awesome soap sculpture!

  • bar of soap
  • popsicle stick
  • pencil