From As the Crow Flies
I usually use the no wash method of cleaning up but sometimes I end up with a frying pan or dishes to wash. I never use soap because it takes a lot of water to rinse the soap off. Instead I use baking soda.
One time I ran out of baking soda for awhile so I used wood ash instead–it worked. To make soap you need grease and lye. Lye is made from wood ash. So, mix the grease from the pan with wood ash and you have essentially made soap.
Baking soda works under the same principal but it is safer on your skin. Wood ash in water releases lye so you don’t want it getting in your eyes or sitting on your skin.
I had never made the connection that ashes would de-grease pans, but it makes sense doesn’t it? Carrying a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in your camping kit is always a good idea. In addition to washing dishes baking soda can be used as
Antacid – 1/2 teaspoon in water to settle an acid stomach.
Mouthwash – Gargle with a bit of baking soda to freshen breath.
Toothpaste – Not too tasty but effective
Deodorant -Deodorize just about anything that smells; sprinkle in boots, sleeping bags and on yourself.
Topical ointment – Make a paste to relive itching or insect bites or a solution for rashes
Shampoo – Comb a solution of baking soda through your hair to degrease and freshen.