Do you remember Grandma’s lye soap?

Posted by | November 23, 2016

“Hog killing was a value for rendering out your lard and make your cracklings and we use the scraps to make soap out of. The way we made lye was everybody had an ash hopper. It’s a big square box and you put all your ashes in it that you take out of the fireplace.

“You put it where you tilt it just so water runs in and drips out at one side and it makes lye. We use lye to render the husks from hominy and also to make lye with. And when the men folks decide to tan a hide, to make leather, the lye was used to remove the hair and everything off of it.

“Lye was a very important thing. You’d use tallow to waterproof stuff with. You’d do your washing on a washboard with lye soap. I can remember Octagon soap and powered soaps…they were the first ones I could remember.”

Hazel Farmer
Union County, GA
Interviewed by Martha Clement June 2005

It’s in the book (Grandma’s lye soap)
John Standley and Art Thorson, 1952 (BMI Work #744156)

Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights recorded this piece in the UK; it was released by Capitol Records there in December of 1952 on a 10″, 78 rpm disk. Side A of the record opened with a comic monologue about Little Bo Peep, partly sung, partly spoken in the style of a preacher. Side B featured Grandma’s Lye Soap. It was a number one hit on the Billboard Chart that year, and was recorded live. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disk.


Do 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

Then let us all sing right out of grandma’s
Of grandma’s lye soap
Used for, for everything
Everything on the place
For pots and kettles
The dirty dishes
And for your hands and for your face

Shall we now sing the second verse
Let’s get it with great exuberance, let’s live it up
It’s not raining inside tonight
Everyone, let’s have a happy time
Are we ready
All together, the second verse

Little Herman and brother Thurman
Had an aversion to washing their ears
Grandma scrubbed them with the lye soap
And they haven’t heard a word in years

Then let us all sing right out of grandma’s
Of grandma’s lye soap
Sing all out, all over the place
The pots and kettles, the dirty dishes
And also hands and also f…..
(clapping fades)

Well, let’s sing what’s left of the last verse
Let’s have a happy time, everyone
The last verse, al-l-l-l together
Ev-v-v-very one

Mm-m-m-m, thank you kindly, kindly
M-m-mrs, O’Malley, out in the valley
Suffered from ulcers, I understand
She swallowed a cake of grandma’s lye soap
Has the cleanest ulcers in the land

Then let us all sing right out of grandma’s
Of grandma’s lye soap
Sing right out, all over the place
The pots and, the pots and pans, oh dirty dishes
And the hands.


Related posts: “Hometown wisdom in time of war” (lye soap)

One Response

Leave a Reply

− 2 = 3

↑ Back to top

This collection is copyright ©2006-2018 by Dave Tabler. All visuals are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107) and remain the property of copyright owners. Site Design by Amaru Interactive