These widespread practices in the Far West demonstrate how very wild the times were
Soap, a luxury product
When the inhabitants of the Wild West had the opportunity to take a bath, they did not have shower gel or bubble bath to help them wash and smell good. Having a good smell was not a priority. In the glorious era we live in, there are various kinds of soap to choose from. Even though there were few viable alternatives, soap was readily available in the Wild West due to the simplicity of its ingredients. It is incredible that we now have different soaps and scents to choose from in the store. This is another advantage that people that lived in the Wild West missed out on.
At best, soap in the Old West was a coarse slab made mostly of animal or plant fat. It was so unrefined and so corrosive, in fact, that it could even cause skin irritations that were often very painful. It was the price to pay for having any semblance of cleanliness at the time. If you wanted to smell good in the Wild West, you had to put up with the pain and bite through your teeth because your skin became red and irritated. Soap and cosmetics were scarce and expensive. What you see in the Westerns movies isn’t totally wrong after all.