Need Soap? Make Your Own             

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.


One of the best ways to protect yourself and other people from getting sick is to wash your hands with soap. To make soap, you need three main things: oil, water and lye.


 [PS] (1)  lye 鹼液


The oil can come from animal fat or plant sources like avocado, coconut or sunflower. Lye can be found at markets and other stores that sell cleaning products. Lye -- spelled l-y-e -- is also called sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.


 [PS] (1) avocado 【植】鱷梨;鱷梨樹  (2) coconut 椰子;椰子肉[C] 

(3) sunflower 【植】向日葵     (4) Sodium hydroxide 氫氧化鈉  

(5) potassium hydroxide【化】氫氧化鉀


Be very careful. Lye can cause serious burns. It can also blind a person if it gets into the eyes. Do not breathe lye and do not let small children near it. And do not store lye in containers made of aluminum. The lye will eat through the metal.


 [PS] (1) blind <vt>使失明  (2) breathe <vt>呼吸;吸入 (3) aluminum【化】鋁



But the owner of a soap making business in California says on her blog that there is no lye present in the finished soap. Diane Longacre says the lye and oil molecules combine and chemically change into soap and glycerin. Her blog is at


 [PS] (1) molecule【化】分子  (2) glycerin【化】甘油


Some people make soap with potash lye. You boil ashes in water until only dry black salts remain. Once the salts melt, a gray-white substance is left. This is potash.


[PS] (1) potash鉀鹼  (2) boil烹煮 (3) ashes 灰燼  (4)substance 物質


One simple way to make soft soap requires nine kilograms of potash. You also need twelve kilos of any kind of oil and twenty-six liters of water. Mix the potash well with the water. Add it to the oil in a wooden bucket.


[PS] (1) wooden木製的 (2) bucket水桶


For the next three days, mix the materials well with a wooden stick or spoon. Do this several times a day for about three minutes at a time. Then let the soap sit in the wooden bucket for about a month. After that, it will be ready to use.


 [PS] (1) stick 棒子  (2) spoon湯匙


In Mali, women's groups make and sell soap produced with jatropha seeds. In Rwanda, a group of people living with H.I.V./AIDS began making soap from local materials like palm oil and avocados. They developed a business with a loan from the aid organization Africare.


 [PS]  (1) Mali 馬利共和國  (2) produce 製造  (3) jatropha 白油桐樹

       (4) Rwanda盧安達  (5) palm棕櫚()  (6) loan 借款


Healthier members of the group meet four times a week to mix the soap and cut it into pieces. An American organization called InterAction says the soap makers produce one thousand pieces each day. The soap is sold to the local health center, to a prison and to people in the community.


 [PS]  (1) healthier健康的  (2) meet 集合  (3) prison監獄

       (4) community 社區


And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Karen Leggett. More information about the soap making process can be found at Click on Practical Answers and enter "soap" as a search term. We will post helpful links at I'm Mario Ritter.


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