A Good Way to Take Out Spottes Out of Woollen (Lye & Alum) – 2014

This recipe also comes from A Profitable Booke and describes mixing the ash water with alum and using that as a spot remover.  I think the reason this recipe states it is OK for woolens is the addition of Alum which seemed to make the solution much more neutral than the very basic cold lye solution.  The cold lye solution tested with a pH ~13 and the solution with alum tested around a pH of 7.

A Good Way to Take Out Spottes Out of Woolen (Lye & Alum)

A good way to take spots out of woolens.

Take ash water and alum powder together, then take of the ashes thereof and place upon the spots on the cloth, and when it is dry, sponge it off and it will be clean.


  • ½ quart Lye solution as made in recipe for cold lye solution
  • 1 tsp alum

Dissolve alum in solution.  Apply solution to stains.  Let dry.  Sponge off with clean water.


The results for this solution were a mixed bag.  I think he addition of the alum, which decreased the pH made the solution not as good at removing stains; however, was probably safer to use on woolen fabrics than the cold lye solution by itself.  Longer treatment or multiple treatments with this solution might give better results.

A. Olive Oil – Gone

B. Red Wine – OK

C. Mustard Sauce – Not Good

D. Green Sauce – OK

E. Blood – Mostly gone

F. Mud – OK

G. Beeswax – Not Good

H. Iron Gall Ink – Not Good


Gone No noticeable trace of stain remaining
Mostly gone The stain has mostly been removed but there is a slight discoloration
OK The stain has been lightened but there is still a noticeable discoloration.
Not Good No change or the stain is still very noticeable.
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