One of the reasons many people avoid making hand-made soaps at home is a fear of lye. It’s true, lye is a dangerous substance that can cause severe burns, blindness and if ingested can kill you. Have I sufficiently scared you even more? Good and well…
There is no need to really fear lye, but there are plenty of reasons to greatly respect it. It’s a necessary component to making your own beautifully crafted soaps at home but needs to be addressed so you know how to properly work with it.
To start, only buy pure lye from a reputable soap supply store or website. Do not purchase drain cleaner as it may have other ingredients that can ruin your soap and possibly harm your skin!
When working with lye, be sure to protect yourself by wearing hard close-toed shoes, long rubber gloves and eye protection.
Some soapers avoid wearing long sleeve shirts or pants when making soap. This may seem counter-intuitive but if you were to spill lye on your shirt, it’s harder to wipe away the lye when your clothes are soaking it up. It’s best to use gloves that will cover as much of your arm as possible. Eye protection is also an essential component to making soap. Lye can blind you so don’t take chances – just wear the darn goggles.
Always use a heat resistant container when mixing your lye water. I prefer to use a glass Pyrex container. The lye, when mixed with water approaches temperatures near boiling so be sure to use something heat resistant that isn’t made from tin, zinc, or aluminum. Just use a glass container with a handle… again, glass Pyrex containers with a handle work beautifully.
When you mix your lye, ALWAYS add the lye to the water – DON’T ADD WATER TO THE LYE. Adding the water to the lye can cause the lye solution to splatter out of the bowl or even explode out! Don’t let that happen and be sure to ALWAYS ADD LYE TO THE WATER.
When adding the lye to the water, add it a little at a time while gently stirring the mixture.
It’s a good idea to perform this step (mixing the lye) in a very well ventilated area. As the water and lye mix, fumes will produce that youREALLY DON’T WANT TO BREATHE IN. I often mix my lye outside or on the stove top where I can turn the ventilation fan on. If you choose to mix your lye outside, be sure to keep critters and other people safe from the mixture. If you choose to mix your lye solution inside, also be sure to keep it out of the way, labeled and far outside of the reach of children and pets. Don’t leave it for a second or this could happen. I never make soap when my daughter is home or when my dog is in the kitchen. Please consider the above link when making soap.
All soapers need to have vinegar on hand when making soap. Vinegar is an acid and will neutralize lye if there is ever a spill. ALWAYS have a gallon of vinegar incase of a spill.
- -Wear long gloves, eye protection and close-toed shoes.
- -Always add the lye to the water NOT the water to the lye. Add it slowly.
- -Be sure to have proper ventilation as the lye solution will emit hazardous fumes.
- -Always have a gallon of vinegar on hand in case of a spill.
- -Read as much as you can about soap making and ASK QUESTIONS if you have them before trying to make soap at home for the first time. I’m happy to respond to questions – SO PLEASE ASK ‘EM IF YOU HAVE ‘EM!