ETA: Most of the bad things you hear about lye are urban legends born from misunderstanding. When people talk about old fashion country soaps that "took your skin off," they were probably talking about old fashioned cleaning products that people made and called soap. My husband's grandmother's mother often made a soap-like concoction involving Comet & Borax. That WOULD take your skin off!
Well I think country folks did make soap that took they're skin off... father always talks about when he used to live in remote rural Brazil in the middle of nowhere in the 50's. I always here the story about the way people made soap using old random grease they found and lye, using no scale and just kinda mix it together. Apparently sometimes the soap was so greasy it didn't wash anything and some other times you'd loose your finger nails using it. On top of it they wouldn't wait 4 weeks to use it.... That's what my father used to think about my soap until he tried it... now he raves about it... anyways.