Lyemaking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a common tradition among early pioneers. Lye soap was known to "get clothes as clean as new and make them smell as fresh as spring rain" and was also used as a prevention to a poison ivy rash for "no germ or bug could live in its presence."
Relive fall tradition in Cades Cove at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the 3rd Saturday in October with demonstrations of lye soap and hominy making from 10 am. - 3 pm.
Follow the long process of making a "run of soap" by leaching lye from wood ashes, combining the lye with fat, and cooking the mixture until it blends together to form soap. Lye soap was known to "get clothes as clean as new and make them smell as fresh as spring rain" and also used as a prevention to a poison ivy rash for "no germ or bug could live in its presence."
The making of hominy was not an easy undertaking, but it was another way in which the taste of common corn could be changed to add variety to the Appalachian diet. Imagine boiling dry shelled corn and lye (again from wood ashes) to create a delicacy that, as some have said, "could be eaten right out of the kettle."
The demonstrations, scheduled at the Cable Mill area, approximately half way around the 11-mile loop road, are conducted with the generous help of volunteers and sponsored by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association.