Aunt Nell’s Lye Soap Recipe

Always heard of lye soap but have no idea what it is? The following was written out for us by Miss Nellie Jones in 1978. Nellie remembered making a lot of soap in her day!


Place two quarts of water, one can of lye, and five pounds of grease in a wash pot or enameled vessel. (Never use aluminum for the lye eats it up.)

Let this mixture boil until all fat is consumed and mixture gets about as thick as the gooey for banana pudding.

Put in three quarts of cold water and boil about ten minutes. Remove from fire and stir with a paddle until it is too thick to stir.

Let stand in cool place overnight and cut out in squares.

We always made three cans of lye at least and it is hard to guess at the amounts here. Good Luck to you.

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About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for and marketing small-town Texas.
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2 Responses to Aunt Nell’s Lye Soap Recipe

  1. missy jones says:

    Miss Nellie Jones, the dear aunt of my husband, Darrell Ross Jones. Nellie was an early day school teacher, and no, she did not have a college education. But, she told me once, “You give me a shade tree, some books and some kids and I will teach those kids.” Seems to me we need more people like her. Re: her making the lye soap, she wrote out this recipe, and it sounds about what my mother made. I do remember it was in a black wash pot, and I do remember having to stir the mixture a lot with a wooden paddle.

    The lye ate up the grease, the bacon rinds, etc., and after you had stirred it and it looked kind of like banana pudding mix, then my mother would lift up some on the paddle, drop it on a rock or a piece of wood, and let it cool, to see if it was going to congeal, in other words, would it make a solid piece of soap.

    When it was ready, we pulled away the fire from the wash pot, let it cool, and then my mother took a long butcher knife, cut it in rows, and took it out of the pot. The lye soap smelled so good and clean, we used it for washing clothes, washing our hair, (and we never had head lice, ugh), and after she finished washing clothes in the big wash pot, we put that soapy water in buckets, brought it into the house, and scurbbed the kitchen floor. That floor was clean enough to eat off of it, and no trouble with the water standing, it just drained through the cracks in the floor.

    By the way, my mother never used burned up grease, and so her lye soap was a beautiful tan color. I do remember this so well.

  2. Nancy Trotter says:

    Amazing we made it the same way in a wash pot in the backyard i don’t remember the color but Mother & Grandmother made it the same way

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