Soap making was a big deal back in the old farm days of Americana. It is still made, even today, and sold through various retail and online outlets.
Our ancestors didn't have a lot of money, perhaps, but they had a lot of ingenuity, or "smarts" to make do with what they did have.
How Did They Make Lye Soap?
At the annual hog-killing time, the lard was saved and mixed with lye and water to form the soap.
Ashes from the wood stove were used to make lye. The ash was heated until it became white, and was then mixed with water. The resulting liquid was then processed to make lye.
Huge old fashioned kettles were used for the mixture of lard and lye, and this was heated over an open fire. The amount of lye used determined the strength (or harshness) of the soap.
After the mixture was cooked, it was often poured into a metal pan to dry and harden - a process that often took 2-4 weeks or more. Then it was cut into bars and used for about anything you can think of!
Uses for Lye Soap
Our farming ancestors used lye soap for laundry, dishwashing, cleaning floors and bathing - to name a few uses!
According to who you talk to, you'll hear of amazing claims of the usefulness of Grandma's old fashioned lye soap.
Among them are:
poison ivy treatment (it is a drying soap)
prevention of bug bites
Of course, you could try to make your own lye soap. But if that isn't something you really want to do, Click here to visit Soaps Gone Buy, an online resource that sells soaps and cleaning supplies just like Grandma used to use!
Listen to Grandma's Lye Soap
This classic Johnny Standley recording from 1952, has 2 old funny favorites for your listening pleasure. To hear Grandma's Lye Soap sung, move the bar below on the video to minute 3:25. Enjoy!
Grandma's Lye Soap Lyrics
This song was recorded on old "vinyl records", long before the days of either tapes or CDs.
"You remember Grandma's Lye soap,
Good for everything in the home -
And the secret was in the scrubbing - It wouldn't suds, and couldn't foam!
O sing, O sing of Grandmas Lye Soap
Good for everything, everything in the home,
The pots and pans, the dirty dishes-
And for your hands, and for your face.
Little Herman and brother Thurman
Had an aversion to washing their ears Grandma scrubbed them
with the lye soap Now they haven't heard a word in years!
Mrs. O'Malley, down in the valley
Suffered from ulcers, I understand
Swallowed a cake of Grandma's Lye Soap-
Has the cleanest ulcers in the land!
ROUSING CHORUS (often accompanied by clapping and dancing)
O Sing, O sing! O! Of Grandma's Lye Soap
Good for everything, everything in the home
The pots and pans, the dirty dishes!
And for your hands and for your face!"