Recipe to Make Lye

Making soap required grandparents to first make lye.

| Good Old Days

Grandmother not only had to make her soap, first she and Grandpa had to make lye. In this old recipe for making it, it was spelled "ley."

"Bore a hole in the bottom of a barrel; place an earthen vessel under the hole to catch the ley; place straw in the bottom of the barrel using ten bushels of ashes and one bushel of unslacked lime. (Ashes should be kept dry and they should be strong ashes-hickory ashes are best.)

"Pour into the barrel one layer of ashes and on top of that sprinkle lime and add water (rain water is best). Continue alternating the ashes and lime and adding water until all the ashes and lime are used up.

"The ley is ready as soon as it is strong enough to bear up an egg with only the top visible above the water. The top area should be the size of a dime above the ley. If the ley is not strong enough, keep pouring the ley back through the ashes and adding more water as necessary."

Lucille Kelly
Ewing, Mo.

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: October 13-14, 2018
Topeka, KS

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!