Grandma’s lye soap was used as a pre-wash to help get dirt and grime from the laundry. Dampen the spot and rub the bar on the area. Then throw the item in the wash. In the old days it was claimed that lye soap made the clothes come out cleaner and brighter. The whites were whiter. You can grate a few tablespoons of lye soap into hot water and let sit to liquefy the soap and use that instead of commercial laundry detergent. I have tried this for stain removal myself and it works on those little stains from cooking.
This soap was used every day as a body soap and said to help with acne, eczema and psoriasis. People who have changed back to lye soap say their skin is softer, it makes hair shine and helped eliminate dandruff.
Hunters and sportsmen used it to bathe as they said it helps eliminate the human scent and does not add any scent. Did you know that the commercial brands of soap that say they are unscented actually are? They add scent to cover the smell of the chemicals to a point that we can’t smell it.
They used it when someone got into some poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac. Lather up the area and let the lather dry on your skin. It will eliminate the burning and itching. This application also works for mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, sunburn and athlete’s foot. They claimed it also killed head and body lice. Our ancestors also used it on their pets to kills fleas and reduce dander.
Grandma also used it in various other ways. She would tie a bar into and old sock and hang it near the porch to keep bugs away. The scrapings from the big iron kettle in which she made the soap, were spread around the outside of the home to keep ants and termites away. Boy I can use that around here! Our house sits on the edge of the woods and ants are a problem. Hate putting down poisons to stop them.
Some men swore that homemade lye soap made good fish bait, and that it would keep snakes, spiders, and roaches away from the house. They used soap as a degreaser when they worked on equipment. A little lye soap rubbed on the bottom of drawers made them open easier. Door hinges would get lye soap rubbed into them to stop squeaking. Grandma stuck her pins into it when sewing to make the pins glide into the fabric. I have even done that. Can’t get a ring off a finger rub the bar of soap on that finger.
I am sure there were more uses for this wonderfully simple soap. After a request for us to make it we started doing some research while it was curing. Then I began to wonder, why did we run to the store over and over and buy all that stuff to do all the things above and pay out a lot of money on some of that stuff, when we just had to have one bar of old fashioned lye soap?
If you have any further uses for old fashioned lye soap please leave a comment below.