Octagon Soap is made of lye, which is an alternative name for sodium hydroxide, caustic soda or potassium hydroxide. The chemical compound of lye is NaOH, and it is extracted from the ashes of logs of oak and bushes that grow fruit.
Octagon Soap was made by the Colgate-Palmolive Company in the early 1900s, but it was discontinued because of decreased demand. Some bars of Octagon Soap are still available today, and the soap is sought after because of its basic ingredients, powerful cleaning capability and nostalgic value.
Lye can be dangerous because of its caustic qualities. It can be poisonous and may corrode metals, paint and even skin. However, lye soap, like Octagon Soap, is not dangerous because it has been neutralized. Lye is a base, and when it is used to make soap, it is mixed with an acid.
Octagon Soap was originally marketed as laundry soap and used by shaving flakes of it into a wash basin, in which clothes were then soaked and scrubbed against a washboard. It was also used as a hand soap, acne soap, clothing stain remover, and itchy rash or bug-bite remedy. The soap also has various household uses, such as cleaning stoves, bathtubs and tile.