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Thread: Soldier's Soap ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Kenosha Wisconsin
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    572

    Default Soldier's Soap ?

    What type of soap ( if any ) would a soldier have typically carried while in the field or used for every day camp life ?

    Would it have been a small bar of Lye or Pine Tar ? I am aware that the washings were infrequent, but when they did, what would they have used ?
    Richard Schimenti

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    33

    Default

    Not sure why you think they bathed infrequently. There are plenty of accounts of soldiers availing themselves of opportunities to clean themselves and their clothing. Hygiene was taken very seriously in the period. Lye soap was one very common form.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Bedford, Virginia
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    451

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    Almost all soap is lye soap, some bar "soaps" sold in stores are some sort of detergent but even they will have some strong base chemical. Pine tar soap is a specialty product made for skin conditions and may not have even been in use at the time. It is a commissary issue item with a daily allowance that is pretty close to the amount found in a hotel bar. Not that they only gave you one day's worth at a time but the amount issued would have been noted by weight and as so many days' worth. You can use any plain soap such as Octagon, Felsnaphta (sp) or some of the Mexican laundry soaps showing up in stores. Get an undyed, unscented and if it has a name molded in then scrape it out or use it some to wear that off. Wrap it in a dry cloth to keep it from giving an unwanted flavor to your other rations if you carry it in your haversack. Castile soap is often seen mentioned in connection with items sent to hospitals, it is a better quality soap with mostly if not all vegetable oils, olive oil is what makes it true castile soap but other oils get in there due to price, coconut oil improves the lather and is found in not just castile but also other bar soaps. That is of course today and is correct for period higher quality soaps, soldiers got mixed animal fat soaps that would have been produced with poor quality control, better soaps were lighter coloured (white rather than brown or tan) but even they will turn so once again if you are not making your own you are back to the laundry bars, cut in half and share it with a friend.
    If you are an officer then you can use almost any soap including perfumed and coloured milled soaps, not the craft show soaps with added leaves and twigs but the kind of stuff you would find in high end department stores or the Dollar Tree.
    Boyd Miles

    I dream of a world where a chicken can cross a road without having its motives called into question.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Bedford, Virginia
    Posts
    451

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    You can also go deeper and start looking at soaps for every purpose, shaving soap is not the same as toilet soap which is not the same as laundry soap which is not the same as soft soap and so on. As a soldier you had the one kind and used it for everything.
    Boyd Miles

    I dream of a world where a chicken can cross a road without having its motives called into question.

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